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Library service during lockdown (Updated Tuesday 5th January 2021)

Posted on 05 Jan 2021

Service announcement Jan 2021

Library service during lockdown 

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday 4th January, Libraries Unlimited has decided to temporarily close our buildings in Devon and Torbay from the end of Tuesday 5th January. 

 Libraries Unlimited is committed to the wellbeing of staff, customers and volunteers during the pandemic. 


Our Choose & Collect and computer services have been suspended until further notice.  

Alex Kittow, Chief Executive of Libraries Unlimited said: 

We have made the decision to temporarily close our buildings and to suspend our Devon Mobile Library service, Home Library Service in Devon and Books on Wheels in Torbay.  We are committed to keeping our staff, volunteers and customers safe and will continue to evaluate the local picture with Devon County Council and Torbay Council. 

We know how valuable our library services were to people during the lockdown in 2020 and we will continue to support our local communities.  Our digital library remains open, online activities will continue on social media and we will find ways to support those that may be isolated or vulnerable.” 

Whilst our physical libraries are closed, our library staff will be home working and our library service will continue online. Our staff will support our digital library, provide online content, manage customer queries and will provide the important service of keeping in contact with our library customers.  

We have suspended our Devon Mobile Library Service in line with our physical building closures. We have also suspended our Home Library Service in Devon and Books on Wheels in Torbay 

Any updates will be shared on our website and via social media. 

Returning Items 

Please can we request that library customers hold onto books, CDs and DVDs and return them when we re-open our doors. Loans are extended to 29th March 2021 and you can return once the buildings re-open.  Please do not return items to drop boxes / through letter boxes either as staff will not be in the buildings at this time. 

Renewals, reservations and charges 

 To assist our customers, we have put the following temporary arrangements in place: 

  • Existing loans have been extended to week to 29th March 2021. 
  • You can review loans online or by contacting your library via email. 
  • Suspended our reservation charges through to 29th March 2021 as items may take longer than usual to become available. 

Our digital library remains open, you can download and stream free eBooks, eAudiobookseMagazines 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 March 2021.  In addition, there is remote access to Business Information databases.  Find out more at


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. 

Reservations & Account Limits 

Online reservations are available via our websites. 

During this time, online reservations will temporarily be unavailable for collection. If you have already placed an online reservation we will contact you when it is available for collection.  

You can now borrow a maximum of 24 books. This is a temporary measure and will be reviewed regularly. 


In line with our temporary building closures, our cafés will be closed. 

Meeting Room Hire 

Meeting room hire across libraries in Devon and Torbay is suspended.

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: 

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. Library staff will remain in contact and provide a library service during our library buildings closure.

Business support 

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 to 29th March 2021 
  • You can borrow up to 24 books 
  • Suspended our reservation charges through to 29th March 2021

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, eAudioBookseMagazines and e-newspapers. 

 – We have added 3,500 titles to Overdrive (eBooks and eAudiobooks)
– We now have 1,000 unlimited use eAudiobooks through RB Digital
 A selection of eMagazines and eNewspapers are available on RB Digital
 Access eAudiobooks via BorrowBox
 Access the ‘Reading Well’ collections on our digital platform Devon Online Reference and 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. As and when our libraries re-open we will process all temporary memberships registered during this closure period and we will issue a library card to you. 

How do I get in contact? 

Library contact details are on the Devon Libraries and Torbay Libraries webpage. 

Contact your local library by email for assistance with renewals or any other enquiries. 

For general enquiries email 

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 and fast-moving national picture, we cannot guarantee this. 

Information and advice 

Reliable and up to date information about the coronavirus situation is available from:  

Libraries Unlimited believes…

…in the unlimited potential of library services to make a positive difference to people’s lives and communities through a shared love of reading and access to high quality information and facilities.