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Lockdown update: Our Choose & Collect service resumes (Updated 14th January 2021)

Posted on 14 Jan 2021

National Lockdown updateWith cases rising across the country it is vital that Libraries Unlimited support individuals and communities to stay at home to keep themselves and others safe.

In early January the Prime Minister announced the current lockdown and updated guidance enables library services across England to make local decisions about delivery of limited services during national lockdown.

We have reviewed local information and will resume lifeline library services to support the health and wellbeing of our communities from Monday 18th January.

Research shows that reading can reduce stress, boost your mood and alleviate feelings of isolation, so some libraries will be offering our Choose and Collect service as a lifeline to anyone who would benefit during lockdown.

We can also support families by providing books to support home learning and reading for pleasure.

Not everyone has a computer, device or internet at home and some libraries will offer vital access to essential online government services through bookable computer sessions.

Lifeline library services are offered by appointment only and customers are advised to contact their local library via email or phone to book based on local availability.

Most of our library staff are working from home, with minimal numbers of staff going to the library to deliver our lifeline services. If you cannot get through to the library team via phone, then please email. Anyone without access to email can call the Customer Service Centre on 0345 155 1001. They will forward your contact details to your local library team, who will then call you back.

Our lifeline library services are COVID secure and contactless. If you need our services during lockdown we’d encourage you to book at a time when you’re leaving your home for other essential reasons such as collecting your shopping or taking exercise. Please continue to follow social distancing rules, wear a face covering in public places, and wash your hands regularly.

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.

Mobile Libraries

Our mobile libraries will not be on the road, but the mobile library team will be providing a targeted response to isolated individuals within rural communities.

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.

Tabitha Witherick, Head of Library Service and Customer Experience said

We know that library services are a lifeline and we’ve valued heartfelt feedback demonstrating how reading and library staff have made the last few difficult months more bearable. 

Take up of our digital library has been extremely high since the first lockdown, but we recognise that some customers are unable to access eBooks and our digital events. We believe offering our Choose and Collect service will offer lifeline support for people’s mental health and wellbeing. We are also proud to be able to support families who are home learning, as reading is such an important contributor to educational attainment.

In line with the national directive to stay at home, to only leave your house for essential reasons, we would recommend collecting your books when you are making journeys for other essential items such as shopping, collecting medication or taking your daily exercise.  We are not suggesting that you need to make extra journeys from home.

We will continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates 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. Items that were due back between 4th January and 15th February have been automatically extended to 29th March 2021.

If you do need to return items please contact your local library in advance to confirm arrangements.

Renewals, reservations and charges

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

  • Items that were due back between 4th January – 15th February have been auto extended to 29th March 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 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, 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 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 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 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. Many library staff are making phone calls to vulnerable and isolated customers, offering social support and information about our lifeline services.

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
  • 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 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, eAudioBooks, eMagazines 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. 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?

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.