Libraries Unlimited announces their roadmap for reintroducing in-person library services (Updated 19th April 2021)Posted on 01 Apr 2021
Libraries Unlimited announces the roadmap for reintroducing in-person library services, based on the 4-step plan set out by the government. Throughout the pandemic our focus has been keeping customers, staff and volunteers safe and this will be our continued focus over the coming months.
Library services currently available at your local library are:
- Choose & Collect – offered by appointment only and customers are advised to contact their local library via email or phone to arrange collection.
- Some libraries will offer essential access only to bookable computer sessions. Contact your local library via email or phone to book your session.
- Home Library Service in Devon and Books on Wheels service in Torbay will be offered where the volunteer is comfortable providing this service.
- Our mobile libraries are not currently on the road, but the mobile library team are providing a targeted response to isolated individuals within rural communities.
- In line with our temporary building closures, our cafés are currently closed.
- Census support is available at 23 libraries until 4th May – Find out more.
Additional library services available from Monday 12th April include:
- Book browsing will be available in most libraries.
- Free access to computers and you can book in advance.
- Our mobile libraries will be back on the road offering book browsing for one bubble at a time.
- Outdoor café and takeaway service at Exeter Library and The Hayridge, Cullompton.
Our library services are COVID secure and contactless. The government’s messaging has moved from ‘Stay at Home’ to ‘Stay Local’. We encourage you to minimise your travel and use your local library at this time. Please continue to follow social distancing rules, wear a face covering in public places (including our libraries), and wash your hands regularly.
The Prime Minister announced a 4-step plan to ease lockdown in England. outlining the detail and dates for each step. Although there are dates given for each step, the government has warned that they are subject to change as the plan will be guided by data rather than dates, so some stages of reopening could be delayed.
Alex Kittow, Chief Executive said
“We welcome the government’s roadmap and structure for reopening. This is still a time to adhere to covid-19 guidelines and to continue to follow the ‘hands, space, face’. We encourage our customers to continue to follow the stay at home guidance (until 29th March) and to stay local (from 29th March) visiting your local library rather than making bigger journeys.
Our library staff have served our communities in Devon & Torbay throughout the pandemic and have responded to the rapid change. We have continued our library services even when our physical buildings have been closed. We’ve appreciated the feedback, messages and gratitude expressed by our customers. This has helped us to fine-tune our offer and it has been morale boosting for staff to know what difference they are making in these challenging times.
I know staff are keen to open our doors and to welcome customers back into our libraries. With the roadmap we have a plan in place and hopefully we can be offering our in-person library service from late Spring/early Summer. Our library spaces are covid secure and in the lead up to reopening we will update risk assessments and ensure our covid protocols are in place.
We have lots of great events and activities in the planning that we can hopefully offer over the summer including the Summer Reading Challenge, Reading Friends 1:1 sessions, Lost Librarian escape room challenge, reading groups, FabLab workshops, BIPC events and so much more.
We will continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates on our website and via social media. We’ll publish full event details as soon as we receive the government green light.”
Libraries Unlimited Roadmap for reintroducing in-person library services
Step One from 29th March, our Choose and Collect service restarts and some libraries will offer computer access for essential access. This will need to be booked by contacting your local library by phone or via email. From this date the government messaging moves from ‘Stay at Home’ to ‘Stay Local’. We encourage you to minimise your travel and use your local library at this time.
Step Two from 12th April, we will offer phased library reopening for book browsing, computer sessions, mobile libraries will be back on the road offering book browsing for one bubble at a time, our outdoor café spaces at The Hayridge and Exeter Library will open. Please see our website nearer the time for opening hours. All our Covid-secure working practices will remain in place at this time and ongoing.
Step Three from 17th May, the rule of 6 will apply meaning that we can reopen our café indoor spaces and meeting rooms for small groups of 6.
Step Four from 21st June, based on the government’s roadmap we should be able to expand our in-person offer, start to introduce events and offer meeting rooms for bigger groups.
Our timetable is subject to government guidance and potential change. We will continue to keep customers updated.
We continue to offer a wide range of eBooks, eAudiobooks, digital magazines and newspapers on our website, as well as a vibrant programme of digital events via our social media.
What to expect in our libraries from Monday 12th April
Our libraries, except Salcombe, will reopen for public to choose books from the shelves, use the computer facilities and in some libraries use our study areas. Buckfastleigh and Chulmleigh will be offering Choose and Collect only at this time.
Bideford Library has scaffolding in place whilst ceiling repairs take place. Customers are encouraged to use our Choose & Collect service and from Tuesday 20th April we are offering book browsing appointments (1 household at a time) and limited computer use by appointment. Please email or telephone Bideford Library to arrange.
We will maintain the Covid secure arrangements within our libraries including 2m social distancing measures, hand sanitisation stations, limiting the numbers of customers at any one time and one-way systems to help the safe flow of customers through our libraries.
Our mobile libraries are welcoming customers back on board their vehicles, one bubble at a time, from Monday 12th April and the Home Library service will continue to run as normal.
Our Services from Monday 12th April
Choose and Collect
Some libraries are offering our free of charge Choose and Collect service. Telephone or email your local library, we will select your books or DVDs and you can collect them from the library entrance at a pre-arranged time.
Computers will be available in our libraries for public use. Sessions may be limited to 1 hour and are bookable online, by phone, email or in person at your library. You can also “drop in” to most libraries.
Home Library Service
Our Home Library Service in Devon and Books on Wheels service in Torbay will be offered where the volunteer is comfortable providing this service. Our volunteers will order items from the library, collect and then transport to the customer for contactless doorstep delivery. Please contact your local library or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
From 12th April, our mobile libraries will be back on the road offering book browsing for one bubble at a time. Covid secure arrangements will be in place. Please see our mobile libraries timetable to see when we are stopping near you. We are unable to visit schools, nurseries and care homes for the time being.
Exeter Library only. Our local Book Delivery service allows you to borrow books, DVDs and other library stock from Exeter Library if you live within 5 miles. Simply telephone or email, we will select items based on our discussion and make a delivery to your home.
For books not currently stocked in your local library or if you live further than 5 miles from Exeter Library please contact us regarding our Books by Post service. Due to a kind donation we are able to offer this postal service for free until further notice.
What to expect in our libraries
Library opening times may vary so please do check with your local library before you make your journey. For libraries offering Choose & Collect only, contact your library directly to pre-arrange.
Signs and queue management
To keep everyone safe we have installed safety signage throughout our libraries. Safe queuing will be in place to enter the library. We have 2 metre social distancing measures, hand sanitisation stations and one-way systems to help the safe flow of customers through our libraries.
Our libraries vary in size, and we will limit the number of customers at any one time. Factors such as layout, number of floors, staffing and services available may play a part in our safety management.
Our libraries vary in size, and we will limit the number of customers at any one time. Factors such as layout, number of floors, staffing and services available may play a part in our safety management.
Hand sanitiser and cleaning
We have invested in hand sanitiser stations for each library, enabling you to sanitise when entering the library. Cleaning will be in place for services such as our public computers and self-service kiosks. Each library has been cleaned in advance of our return and has regular cleaning in place.
NHS Covid-19 app
The NHS Covid-19 app launched in 2020 and each of our libraries will be displaying the QR code poster for our customers to scan and self-register for Test & Trace. The app does more than the QR code check in, it also allows you to:
Trace – For contact tracing, the app detects and logs other nearby app users using random unique IDs.
Alerts – When you register for the app you supply the first part of your postcode, it then alerts you to the risk in your area. Symptoms – If you feel unwell, you can use the app to check if your symptoms could be related to coronavirus (COVID-19).
Test – If you have symptom it will allow you to book a test. Isolate – If you have been advised by the app to self-isolate, the app provides a countdown timer so that you can keep track of how long you need to self-isolate. As libraries are supporting the Check-In scheme by displaying QR codes you may receive enquiries specifically about this. We can inform customers that: The app stores all your check-in data locally on the phone and does not send it to a third party.
Your check-in data will be deleted after 21 days. You will receive an alert if somebody who has tested positive for Covid-19 has been in the same venue as you.
Each library has changed layouts to ensure adequate space for you to move around in safety. We have marked up our floor space to support social distancing and we request that 2m social distancing is observed by all staff and customers.
The government requires all members of the public to wear face coverings in libraries.
Using the library
Browsing and returning books
Our libraries are open for public access to choose books from our shelves.
We recognise that libraries are places where you enjoy browsing and that glancing through a book before choosing to take it home is often an integral part of the experience.
In the event you change your mind about an item you have picked up, we have installed ‘browsing trolleys or boxes’ where you can safely leave it. At the end of each day, items from our browsing trolleys will be safely quarantined for 72 hours. This system is in place to support safety in our libraries.
Any loans can be returned to your local library. We have extended loans to allow you more time and you can manage renewal dates via our website or by contacting your local library for assistance.
For safety reasons libraries may initially be offering a more limited selection of stock for people to choose from. All books and items returned to the library will undergo 72 hours quarantine before they are removed from your account and returned to the library shelves. We will be asking you to place returned items into a box near the library entrance to keep them separate for quarantining.
Computers, printing and photocopying
Computer sessions may be limited to 1 hour and with less computers available (in order to maintain social distancing) booking is advisable, particularly in smaller libraries. Computers are bookable online, by phone, email or in person at your library. Please speak to us if you think you may need extra time. Every computer is cleaned between customers.
Please have the exact money to pay for any printing as there is currently no change available.
Please see the new links available on the public computer desktops for help with computers and IT queries. We will not be able to give assistance with the computers at this time.
Children and families are very important to us and we want to make sure children continue to have a positive experience from their local library.
Our offer for children and young people will vary from library to library, based on space and local arrangements.
Please visit our social media for details of the amazing online programme we have available.
You can access our activities and events that we are streaming and sharing online. Find your local library on social media (Facebook and Twitter) to enjoy these events.
We will keep reviewing the government’s guidance and we are hoping to re-introduce in-person events over the summer.
Reservations & Account Limits
Online reservations are available via our websites and we will email you when your items are ready for collection. You will then need to contact your library to arrange a collection time. If you have already placed an online reservation we will email you when it is available for collection.
You can borrow a maximum of 24 books. This is a temporary measure and will be reviewed regularly.
Renewals, reservations and charges
To assist our customers, we have put the following temporary arrangements in place:
- Items that were due back before 4th April have been auto extended to 28th June 2021.
- Extended our loan period to 10 weeks on anything borrowed from 18th January 2021
- You can review your loans online or by contacting your library via email or phone
- Suspended our reservation charges temporarily as items may take longer than usual to become available.
Our digital library remains open, you can download and stream free eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines and e-newspapers from our extensive collection. You can use our online resources from home and access to Ancestry Library Edition has been extended to 30th June 2021. In addition, there is remote access to Business Information databases. Find out more at BIPC.librariesunlimited.org.uk.
Please can we request that library customers hold onto books, CDs and DVDs and return them when we re-open our doors from 12th April. Items that were due back before 4th April have been automatically extended to 28th June 2021.
If you do need to return items prior to 12th April please contact your local library in advance to confirm arrangements.
We encourage you to make payments via our self-service kiosks, and in libraries where we have contactless payment via card. We will only take cash payment where card payment is not possible and will not be able to offer change.
From 12th April, our outdoor café spaces at The Hayridge and Exeter Library will reopen.
The Hayridge Café in Cullompton is open Monday – Friday, 10am-4pm.
The Owl and the Pussycat Café at Exeter Library is open Monday – Saturday, 10am-3pm
From 17th May, the rule of 6 will apply meaning that we can reopen our café indoor spaces at Exeter Library, Newton Abbot Library and The Hayridge, Cullompton.
From 21st June, based on the government’s roadmap we should hopefully be able to expand our café offer.
Meeting Room Hire
Meeting room hire across libraries in Devon and Torbay is currently suspended.
From 17th May, the rule of 6 will apply meaning that we can reopen our meeting rooms for small groups of 6.
From 21st June, based on the government’s roadmap we should be able to offer meeting rooms for bigger groups.
If you have a meeting room booking, our room hire team will be in touch to discuss your booking.
We’re keeping a close eye on any changes to Government guidance and will keep customers up to date regarding changes to their booking.
To make a booking or for room hire enquiries please call 0333 2342123 or email: email@example.com
First time visitors
If you are wanting to use the library for the first time please join online in advance. You will be able to use our digital services immediately. If you wish to use the physical library please contact your local library by phone or email with your temporary [UNREG] number and we will arrange a library card for collection.
Vulnerable and older customers
We provide invaluable social contact for many of our older and more vulnerable customers. Many of our Home Library Service volunteers are remaining in touch with customers. Many library staff are making phone calls to vulnerable and isolated customers, offering social support and information about our library services.
Download and stream free eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines and eNewspapers from our extensive collection. You can use our online resources from home and access to Ancestry Library Edition has been extended to Devon Libraries and Torbay Libraries through to the end of June 2021.
We have a range of online business support, events and information available via our Business and IP Centre.
Library Services FAQs
How borrowing has changed
To provide a flexible service at this time and to help our customers we have put the following temporary arrangements in place:
- Existing loans have been extended to week commencing 28th June 2021
- Anything borrowed from 18th January will be issued for a 10 week loan period
- You can borrow up to 24 books
- Suspended our reservation charges temporarily as items will take longer to become available.
You will be able to view your new return date online by signing into your Devon or Torbay library account and proceeding to “My loans”. If you have forgotten your PIN please click the ‘Forgot PIN’ option to get a PIN reset sent to your registered email address. If you need assistance please email your local library stating your name and library card number.
What is available digitally?
Digital Library Download and stream free eBooks, eAudioBooks, eMagazines and e-newspapers.
- Use Overdrive to access eBooks and eAudiobooks.
- RB Digital – the home of free, online magazines and newspapers – is moving to OverDrive. You can still access online magazines and newspapers through RB Digital until Friday 30th April, but from Wednesday 24th March you’ll be able to start accessing RB Digital’s catalogue through OverDrive and Libby.
- Access eAudiobooks via BorrowBox.
- Access the ‘Reading Well’ collections on our digital platform Devon Online. Referenceand Torbay Online Reference resources.
- Access to Ancestry Library Edition has been temporarily extended to library members at home, courtesy of ProQuest and its partner Ancestry.
- For online content and live streaming events, check out individual library Facebook pages for more information.
Join the Digital Library
You can join the library by visiting Devon Libraries or Torbay Libraries website. Once you have completed the online joining form, you will be given a temporary [UNREG] number which will enable you to access our digital library immediately. If you wish to access our books or other physical items available for loan please contact your local library by email with your UNREG number and we’ll be able to transfer it to a physical library account.
How do I get in contact?
Contact your local library by email for assistance with renewals or any other enquiries.
For general enquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please bear with us, at this time, as we are receiving an increased number of enquiries.
We aim to respond to all enquiries within 5 working days, but due to the current high level of enquiries, we cannot guarantee this.
Information and advice
Reliable and up to date information about the coronavirus situation is available from:
- Current NHS guidance
- NHS 111 COVID-19 advice service
- Current Public Health England guidance
- Devon County Council
- Coronavirus advice in Devon
- Torbay Council
- Digital Unite
- Translated resources – Coronavirus (COVID-19) (devon.gov.uk)
Translated videos in a variety of languages (Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, British Sign Language, Bulgarian, Farsi, French, Gujarati, Hindi, Hungarian, Japanese, Korean, Kurdish (Sorani), Latvian, Lithuanian, Nepali, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese) and a range of information including about the vaccine and information for tourists – for when lockdown restrictions ease. To request information in different formats or languages email email@example.com.