Following the government’s announcement this week about the new national Covid-19 restrictions, the reopening of Lower Earley Library has regrettably had to be paused so that Wokingham Borough Council can ensure measures are in place to protect existing services for the borough’s most vulnerable.
We realise how important libraries are to our residents and communities so are keeping the service under constant review as to what we can and cannot do at this time in line with government guidelines. Lower Earley Library had been due to reopen this week after solving the health and safety issue of creating enough space to quarantine returned books.
Wokingham town centre and Woodley libraries have been successfully operating with Covid-19 public health measures since reopening in the summer, plus an expanded range of digital books, magazines, music streaming and virtual events are available for residents free of charge online.
Wokingham Library will continue to be open Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 1.30pm, and Woodley Library, also weekdays, 9am to 1pm, for returning and borrowing books and for collecting waste bags (which must be pre-ordered online on our council website). However, other services such as public computer use, study space, and newspaper and magazine browsing are not available.
Hand sanitiser stations are now at the entrances at Wokingham and Woodley for people to use as they enter and leave, and face coverings must be worn inside the buildings. People must also follow the one-way systems as well as social distancing at all times.
We urge people to minimise handling of books while browsing. If a book is touched, but not booked out, it must be taken to the returned books area where it will be put into quarantine for 72 hours before it can be returned to the shelves.
All books being returned to the libraries will need to also be quarantined in this way. Overdue charges are currently suspended there is no need to rush to return books straight away.
“We know it’s disappointing that Lower Earley’s and the return of our other libraries have had to be paused, but we must make sure our resources are deployed to keep our most vulnerable residents safe,” said Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment and leisure.
“Wokingham and Woodley have been running well since reopening. Between them some 2,500 residents have visited and borrowed a book, and more than a 1,000 of these residents have made return visits. Just under half of the outstanding books have also been returned during this time.
“Remember, if you’re a member of any borough library, you can use Wokingham and Woodley if you wish, and you can also use our online services for e-books and audio, and search our catalogue although this will always lag by 72 hours until returned items go back on the shelves. And many events and groups that moved online during lockdown are still happening there.”