Today Libraries Connected publishes its toolkit to help libraries to reopen in July and to reintroduce their services gradually, in line with the latest public health advice.
Placing the safety and health of staff, volunteers and users at the forefront, the toolkit was developed in partnership with heads of library services and their teams. The set of resources will support their planning for service recovery as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
The toolkit is designed to meet the practical needs and concerns of library services and covers issues such as risk management, who should return to work, social distancing, behaviour management, cleaning and hygiene and communications to staff and users.
This new guide comes in the middle of a series of online consultations with library managers, workers and users in partnership with the online journalism organisation Tortoise Media. These have looked at the issues libraries need to consider now, and in the future, to operate safely and to further develop their services as their community needs shift due to the current crisis.
Isobel Hunter, Chief Executive, Libraries Connected:
‘This toolkit is a vital first step to ensuring that libraries have the information and support they need to gradually reopen their services safely. I am especially pleased that we have been able to consult with staff, users, volunteers and unions to ensure that we address their range of concerns. This will be an ongoing dialogue because, only together can we recreate our services to meet the challenges of our new reality.’
Caroline Dinenage, Libraries Minister:
‘The way public libraries have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and continued to work for their communities has been remarkable. From hosting virtual versions of groups like Rhyme Time to making more of the most popular titles available for loan as ebooks, our libraries have stepped up and adapted to meet their users’ needs. Many people will be looking forward to re-visiting their libraries when it is safe to do so, and this important guidance will help public libraries prepare for reopening at that time in a way that will ensure that staff, volunteers and visitors are kept safe.’
Sue Williamson, Director Libraries, Arts Council England:
‘Working with a group of Heads of Service and in consultation with key sector stakeholders, including DCMS, LGA, CILIP, PHE, HSE and Union leaders, Libraries Connected has brilliantly fulfilled its remit as an Arts Council Sector Support Organisation by pulling together this toolkit swiftly and efficiently. It will enable library services to develop robust risk assessments to support a safe phased reopening of individual libraries and help Heads of Service and their staff as they navigate the tricky waters of reopening their service points.’
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Chair of the LGA’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board:
‘Library staff have responded and adapted brilliantly to COVID-19 by transferring services online and they continue to provide services to their communities. However, visiting libraries in person brings many other benefits including access to free Wi-Fi and digital support. While it won’t happen right away, councils are keen to begin restoring services and reopening buildings safely. This guidance provides library services with a clear set of advice and robust measures to help them to reopen in line with the latest public health information.’