• For a guide on when public libraries in the UK are reopening, and the current situation, see this page.
  • For a guide on how libraries around the world are coping with the crisis, and the various health and safety precautions that are being used, see this page.


Up and down the country, staff are preparing for reopening to some extent or another. Risk assessments are being done, plastic shields are going up, markings on the floor are going down and there’s a bunch of training and (if not done already) consultation going on.

But, you know, there’s only so much that can be done to prepare. A lot of it is down to the public and how they will behave. And in this, signs are horribly mixed, with many behaving wonderfully but some others seeming even to take offence at the PPE being worn to protect them. As almost all of us at some time or other have been frontline workers, if not now, this difference in public attitudes will not be a surprise to us but the stakes are higher now than ever before. It may be worth factoring in zero tolerance and how to successfully remove people from libraries (without touching – that’s going to be challenging), into those risk assessments.

Anyway, a real test will come this week, when “non-essential” shops are reopened. Will there be spitting in Primark? Kerfuffles in John Lewis? We will see and make adjustments to our plans accordingly but, in the end, how fast and far we reopen will be down to things like the behaviour of the public and (not unconnected) infection rates. We can just make sure we are as prepared as possible …

… and watch out for curveballs like suggestions libraries can be taken over by schools to be used as classrooms.

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National news

“We now need a proper plan for education along the lines being developed by the Scottish Government. It should cover all possible scenarios and focus on blended learning, with greatly increased support for disadvantaged children. Is the Secretary of State planning, as Scotland has done, to use public buildings, such as libraries and council offices, to relieve pressure on classroom space?”

Carol Monaghan, Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Armed Forces and Veterans), House of Commons 9 June.
  • Restart of library service proves popular in Torfaen – South Wales Argus. “More than 70 people have used a new “request and collect” service from Cwmbran Library within days of it being set up. Torfaen council launched the service on Thursday, June 4, with 73 residents requesting 340 books by Monday afternoon.” … “Books will be placed in a 72-hour quarantine prior to distribution, in line with Public Health Wales guidance.” … “Newport City Council said it is finalising plans for a phased re-opening of the library service.” … “Caerphilly council is also set to start re-opening services through a phased approach.” … “Monmouthshire council would also look at a click and collect or delivery service in the future.” … “Aneurin Leisure Trust, which runs libraries in Blaenau Gwent, has previously said it is developing plans to re-open libraries in the county borough.”
  • Statement on the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, USA – CILIP. “Library, information and knowledge professionals have a key role to play in dismantling racism. The CILIP BAME Network calls on professionals to pro-actively deliver collections, services, space and teaching with the objective of creating an anti-racist society. We ask everyone to personally reflect and take action.”
  • When will libraries reopen amid easing lockdown measures? – Metro. “Under new lockdown rules, retail spaces in libraries in England can reopen form 15 June along with other non-essential retail stores provided they ensure the branches are safe for customers.” … “As for being able to borrow books from a library, at the time of writing, fully opening libraries in England is part of the third phase in the Government’s plan for easing lockdown.”
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