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Council reaches new chapter on libraries reopening

Posted on 18 Sep 2020

Please note that we have had to postpone the scheduled reopening of Largs and Irvine libraries which were both due to reopen this afternoon (Tuesday 22 September).  This decision has been taken as a precautionary measure in advance of anticipated announcements from both the UK and Scottish Governments. 

North Ayrshire Council is set to reopen the doors at two libraries next week as part of a ‘Browse and Borrow’ pilot.

Irvine and Largs libraries will open to the public next Tuesday (22 September) for the first time since they closed in March due to lockdown.

The two branches will be available for residents to enter, browse and borrow books on Tuesdays, 2-6pm and Fridays, 9:30am-1pm, as part of the pilot.

However, the Council is advising residents that while the doors may be open, the library experience will be vastly different to what it was before lockdown.

That’s because a number of measures have been put in place to keep both staff and customers safe.

This includes limiting the number of people allowed inside each building at one time, as well as the amount of time each person can spend browsing.

Following national guidelines, face coverings will be mandatory as well as social distancing and there will also be a one-way system in place.  Screens and hand sanitising stations will be positioned throughout each library, soft furnishings have been removed and toilets will be out of use.

Any books returned will be quarantined for 72 hours before becoming available for borrowing again.

No library activities or groups are planned at this stage of the pilot, however many of these remain available online.

If external factors allow, computer access will be available in Largs and Irvine libraries week beginning 28 September. Access will be in one-hour slots and advance booking is essential. Bookings can be made now by calling the branch.

Councillor Louise McPhater, Cabinet Member for Participatory Democracy, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming our residents back into Irvine and Largs libraries – we’ve missed them.

“While this is exciting and long-awaited by many, we must stress that the experience won’t be the same as it was before as we’ve got to ensure we keep everyone safe and follow national guidelines.

“This means that there will be a number of safety and hygiene measures in place which our residents must adhere to while browsing, but it’s a step in the right direction and we hope that, while different to before, our libraries still offer the escapism and enjoyment that they have always done.”

If successful, the Council may look to expand the pilot into other libraries in due course.

Residents who cannot get to Irvine or Largs libraries will continue to have access to physical books through the Council’s ‘Call, Click and Collect’ service.  Simply call the nearest participating library or visit the Council’s online library portal and make a genre selection.  An allocated collection slot will then be given to pick up the books.