If you’re trying to find how your local library service is reopening, please see the list here.


After digitally checking all of the services in the UK over the last week, it is possible to say that at least five-sixths of all English library services will have some sort of physical service to the public by the end of July, with more library openings being announced each day. Some library services are starting their second round of service extension after “successfully” trialling a few libraries since the start of July.

I put “successfully” in quotes because it’s really hard to tell if a library is passing on infection or not. We may never know if any public library has, even with track and trace in operation. Indeed, being that this may mean that a library has been a epicentre of an infection, perhaps its better if we never formally know. This isn’t just me being nit-picky: a new report on public libraries pointedly says “covid-safer”, not “covid-safe” and this is not an accident. Taking this into account though, valuable lessons are being learnt which will help make later library openings easier.

So what about the sixth that aren’t opening in July? Well, with some it is frustratingly hard to tell. Even in 2020, there are services with terrible communications, poor websites and opaque social media out there. Others are being cautious for good reason, notably Leicester and Milton Keynes, which have both had local outbreaks.

National news

  • 2020 Silly Squad summer reading challenge launched today – Western Telegraph. “I’m really pleased the Welsh Government can support libraries with this year’s challenge. The scheme has become an annual event for many children, who look forward to taking part every year”
  • Can gardens, libraries and museums improve wellbeing through social prescribing? – CEBM. “The research identified three key concepts that underpin the potential of garden, library and museum activities for improving health.”
  • Covid 19 Safer Spaces: Helping public libraries to reopen safely – If_Do / Libraries Connected. “The Covid-19 Safer Spaces project is developing a series of free-to-access and easy-to-use design guides, to support people who work in those places to understand how adapt them to enable their safe reopening and operation. The first guide to be published, Covid-19 Safer Libraries, is available to download below, with others coming soon.”
  • Libraries could be leaders once again – BookSeller. Tim Coates: No clear way to be covid-safe yet “those who open aren’t being brave; they are being stupid and placing other people at risk”; reputation with public has declined; 3000 English libraries in “mostly quite big” buildings; libraries have lost local connection and interest in books; “There is no reason why libraries could not get the reputation back. Like many things, if the public believe that is what you do well, it doesn’t take long to revive their faith. Eighty percent of library use is about books and nearly all of that is for printed work.”
  • Libraries in Lockdown – Activisit Group / Youtube. “Over the last few months, Activist have been finding out how public library services have been responding to the coronavirus epidemic and the interesting new roles their teams have been taking on.  They’re celebrating the surprising (and often heroic) work that library staff are doing, especially where they have taken on new roles that have allowed them to demonstrate the extraordinary range of skills and knowledge that Council library staff have.  They’ve just uploaded the final episode in the 6-part series of short YouTube videos capturing these conversations”
  • National Lottery Project Grants – What’s new? – Arts Council England. Funding available for libraries, amongst others. “The portal is reopening for applications from 22 July, with a budget of £59.8 million available until April 2021.  “

“As part of this process, public libraries can now apply for a wide range of activities that support, enhance and enrich libraries’ work, and develop the role of libraries as cultural providers in their communities, ie: relating to the four Universal Offers (Reading, Health and Wellbeing, Digital and Information, and Culture and Creativity).”

Arts Council England
  • Navigating Change and Uncertainty – British Library / Living Knowledge Network. Webinar Thursday 23 July 11 am. “This webinar will explore strategies for maintaining personal and professional resilience. Back by popular demand, Creative Consultant, Lawrence Becko will lead the session, which will include plenty of opportunity for interaction and reflection.”
  • Re-opening libraries – An international and UK perspective – Libraries Connected. Webinar 20 July. Including presentation from If_Do.

International news

“The library is arranged vertically, with a cinema and 200-seat auditorium in the basement, and a cafe, restaurant and newspapers and magazines on the ground floor … The first floor contains fiction and children’s books, while the second and third floor contains more books and several enclosed areas that include recording studios, a mini cinema and gaming rooms.”

  • USA – Summersville Public Library issues statement following incident – WVVA. Man deliberately coughs around library after being asked to wear mask. “This is not the first incident of aggression our staff has endured since we opened the library on Monday.” Due to the safety of the staff and members of the community, the library has resumed operating with curbside service only.””
    • America’s libraries are essential now — and this beautifully renovated one in Washington gives us hope – Washington Post. “If you want to understand the abject failure of America, look to its libraries. All across the country, it is libraries that have become a haven for the homeless when it is too hot or too cold to live outdoors. They offer free Internet service for families who can’t afford the vital connection, and they’re an essential educational resource for parents who can’t pay for preschool. In some cities, libraries have evolved into social service hubs, for the mentally ill, the jobless and the victims of domestic abuse. Libraries do all of these things because our society has failed to meet the basic needs of its people.”
    • How Libraries Are Stepping Up as a Front Line of Resilience – Governing.

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