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Our phased return to libraries starts Monday 6th July (Updated 5th August)

Posted on 08 Aug 2020

What To Expect In Our Libraries  

Libraries will begin to reopen with a limited number of services from Monday 6th July.

The following libraries are open with public access to choose books from the shelves and use the computer facilities:  Braunton, Brixham, Chudleigh and Honiton

Crediton, Dartmouth, Exmouth, Ilfracombe, Okehampton, Sidmouth, St Thomas, South Molton and Tavistock will be open for public access from Monday 20th July.

From w/c 27th July the following libraries will be open for public access
Barnstaple, Bideford, Exeter, Hayridge, Ivybridge, Moretonhampstead, Paignton, Passmore Edwards Centre, Princetown, Teignmouth, Tiverton and Torquay.

Dawlish, Ottery St Mary and Seaton will be open for public access from Monday 3rd August.

From w/c 10th August Axminster, Bovey Tracey, Budleigh Salterton, Chagford, Combe Martin, Holsworthy, Kingkerswell and Stoke Fleming will be open for public access.

A ‘Choose and Collect’ service starts from Monday 6th July, at most libraries, telephone or email your local library and arrange a collection date for titles selected for you.

Devon Mobile Library service will restart from Monday 13th July running a reduced service.

The Home Library Service and Books on Wheels in Torbay will resume from some libraries from Monday 13th July.

A Book Delivery service – Books by foot, bike and post is available at some libraries 
Book reservations using our website are currently unavailable, but you can contact your library to see if a book is available for Choose and Collect.

We are pleased to let you know that our libraries are starting the phased reopening plan.  Here’s what we are doing to welcome you back safely:

Our Services:

Choose and Collect  
To use our new 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.

Digital Library 
Download and stream free eBooks, eAudiobooks and eMagazines 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 September.

Book Delivery – Books by foot, bike and post (available from select libraries only) 
Our local Book Delivery service allows you to borrow books, DVDs and other library stock from your local library if you live nearby. Simply telephone your library, we will select items based on our discussion and we will make a delivery to your home.

For books not currently stocked in your local library please contact Exeter Library on 01392 407027 or for our Books by Post service (please note due to a kind donation we are able to offer this postal service for free until further notice).

Library Service at pilot libraries
From Monday 6th July, we will offer a limited service at four pilot libraries (Braunton, Brixham, Chudleigh and Honiton) and will roll out opening across Devon and Torbay over the following weeks.

What to expect in our Libraries:

Opening Times
Libraries will initially offer limited opening times and reduced services.

Opening times will vary for each library and may change over future weeks, so do check opening times for your local library before you make your journey.

Signage – Honiton Library

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 2m social distancing measures, hand sanitisation stations and one-way systems to help the safe flow of customers through our libraries.

Customer Numbers
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 stations

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.

Test & Trace
You can voluntarily provide Libraries Unlimited with your name and telephone number to support NHS Test and Trace. Please speak to a member of staff if you wish to do so.
For more information about NHS Test and Trace
Click here for full details of Libraries Unlimited’s Test and Trace privacy policy



Social distancing
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.

Face coverings

The government announced on Friday 31st July that members of the public must wear face coverings in libraries from Saturday 8th August.  Unless a customer is exempt from wearing a face covering, we would ask that everyone complies with this as soon as possible to keep everyone safe.  Always maintain social distancing in our libraries and follow our 2m guidance.  For government guidance on face coverings click here.

Revised layout – Honiton Library

Quarantining returned books
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 discharged 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.

Browsing books – quarantining
We recognise that libraries are places where you enjoy browsing and that glancing through a book before is often an integral part of the experience.

In the event you change your mind, we have installed ‘browsing trolleys or boxes’ where you can safely leave a book or item you have handled and no longer wish to borrow. At the end of each day, stock from our browsing trolleys will be safely stored away for 72 hours to quarantine them from coronavirus transmission. This system is in place to support safety in our libraries.

Public access PCs

Booking computers
Services such as computer access, printing and photocopying will be available in our pilot libraries with a view to rolling-out these services as more libraries reopen.

Computer sessions may be limited to 1 hour and are bookable by phone, email or in person at your library.  Please speak to us if you think you may need extra time.

Please have the exact money to pay for any printing as there is currently no change available.

Computers are situated to allow for 2m social distancing and will be cleaned between every use. The numbers of computers available at your library will be reduced because of this safety measure.

Computer support
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’s libraries
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 and website for details of the amazing online programme we have available over the next few months.

Events in libraries will remain suspended for now but you can still enjoy the activities and events that we are streaming and sharing online.

We will continue to develop our online digital offer so you have plenty of choice from the comfort of your home.  Find out more via or

Online reservations have been reintroduced and are available via Devon Libraries and Torbay Libraries.

Account limits
You can now borrow a maximum of 24 books. This is a temporary measure and will be reviewed in December 2020.

Returning items
For all items borrowed prior to lockdown, we have extended loan dates through to the end of August 2020. We welcome your visit to your local library and you can return books, CDs and DVDs.  Please check your local library opening hours on the Devon Libraries and Torbay Libraries websites.  For libraries currently offering the Choose & Collect service you will need to email or telephone to arrange drop off. There will be no fines as your current loan period has been extended.

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.

The Hayridge Café reopens on Monday 27th July and will be open Monday – Friday, 9.30am-3pm and Saturdays, 9.30am-12.30pm. Exeter Library café reopens on Monday 27th July and will be open 10am-4pm Monday – Saturday.  Passmore Edwards Centre café reopens on Monday 3rd August and will be open 10am-3pm Monday – Saturday.

Our cafes have signed up to the Eat Out To Help Out Scheme giving customers a 50% discount on food and non-alcoholic drinks to eat or drink in (up to a maximum of £10 discount per diner) every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in August.

Other Facilities

Our customer lifts will be limited to one person, or one family group at a time.

Our customer toilets will remain closed until further notice to maintain a safe environment.

Seating areas in most libraries will be limited or removed due to space restrictions and social distancing.

Visiting us for the first time?
If you are visiting us for the first time please join online in advance. You will be able to use our digital services immediately. When you come to the library please bring your temporary [UNREG] number and we will provide you with your library card.

The safety of both our staff and our customers are important to us, and we are working hard to ensure libraries provide a safe and protective environment.

Following government guidance our staff are provided with safety equipment and you may see us wearing gloves, masks or visors.  All members of staff have completed Health & Safety training on how to work safely in this new environment.

Which libraries will open?

‘Choose and Collect’  – from Monday 6th July at most libraries. Please visit your local library page on Devon Libraries or Torbay Libraries websites to check availability.

Devon Libraries 

The libraries listed below will be open with reduced opening hours, limited capacity and service.  Opening hours may change so we recommend that you check individual library pages before you visit.

w/c 6th July

w/c 13th July
Mobile Library Service
Home Library Service

w/c 20th July
St Thomas
South Molton

w/c 27th July
Hayridge (Library and Cafe)
Passmore Edwards Centre

w/c 3rd August
Ottery St Mary

From w/c 10th August
Bovey Tracey
Budleigh Salterton
Combe Martin
Stoke Fleming

Torbay Libraries

w/c 6th July
Pilot: Brixham

w/c 27th July

The following libraries are currently closed – Ashburton, Buckfastleigh, Salcombe and Totnes.  Totnes will reopen from Monday 10th August offering our Choose & Collect service.  We are working on the reopening date and will confirm details as soon as possible.

Dates will be confirmed phase by phase and are subject to change.

Join the Digital Library
You can join the library by visiting this page. 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.

Meeting Room Hire
We’re looking forward to welcoming people back to our meeting rooms, and we are taking bookings now for meetings starting from 1st September.

We’re keeping a close eye on any changes to Government guidance, so please understand that if this changes, we may need to be in touch to advise you if this affects your booking.

To make a booking or for room hire enquiries please call 0333 2342123 or email

Contact us

  • Devon Libraries website / Torbay Libraries website
  • General telephone enquiries (For Devon Libraries only) 0345 155 1001
  • Contact your local library by email for assistance with renewals or any other enquiries.
  • Please bear with us, at this time, as we are receiving an increased number of enquiries
  • We can also answer general enquiries and/or forward on general enquiries to the relevant member of the team from our info@ inbox. Please email Please note that 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.