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​Browsing returns to Suffolk’s libraries in September

Suffolk Libraries is pleased to announce that browsing is returning to libraries during September.

This is the latest step in the careful reintroduction of services in Suffolk’s libraries. Around half of libraries have reintroduced browsing already, with one-way systems in place and limitations on the number of customers allowed in library buildings in any one time.

Libraries are now offering PC access and printing/copying and the aim is for all of them to offer browsing by the end of September.

The Home Library Service is also being reintroduced this month, with safety measures in place to ensure customers can safely receive books at home. Volunteers will be dropping books on people’s doorsteps rather than entering homes and all items will have been quarantined beforehand. The Home Library service provides a home delivery service for older and disabled people who cannot visit a library.

Krystal Vittles, Suffolk Libraries Head of Service Delivery, said:

“This is another big step for us as it means libraries are opening up more and we know people love visiting the library to browse and choose books. We’re also delighted to reintroduce the home library service again as we know the people who benefit from it are likely to be those who have been particularly isolated during lockdown. Of course they are also more likely to be vulnerable to COVID-19 so we have introduced strict procedures to keep everyone safe. Events elsewhere in the country show why it’s important for us to plan these steps carefully as we all still have to be very vigilant.”

As of Tuesday 8 September, it’s possible to browse books and other items in the following libraries:

Aldeburgh, Broomhill, Chantry, Clare, Debenham, Eye, Felixstowe, Framlingham, Gainsborough, Halesworth, Haverhill, Kesgrave, Ipswich, Lavenham, Lowestoft, Long Melford, Needham Market, Rosehill, Stowmarket, Stradbroke and Woodbridge.

  • Other libraries will be introducing browsing as follows:
  • 14 September – Bungay
  • 15 September – Hadleigh and Stoke
  • 20 September – Sudbury
  • 21 September – Beccles
  • 22 September – Kessingland, Leiston, Oulton Broad and Southwold
  • 28 September – Bury St Edmunds
  • 29 September – Newmarket.

So far people have been able to reserve items or use the new select and collect service to borrow books and other items from the library. The use of Suffolk’s libraries has steadily grown since they reopened at the start of July. Nearly 3k people borrowed over 13k books and other items the first week of reopening and this has now grown to more than 6,000 customers borrowing over 25k items last week.

People are advised to check with their local library or visit our COVID-19 information page for updates on when their library will introduce browsing and other services. Home Library Service customers will be contacted by volunteers ahead of their service resuming. The intention is to relaunch events and activities from November onwards with all these plans dependent on local infection rates.

Meanwhile people have continued to enjoy online activities and use Suffolk Libraries eLibrary services which have been so popular during lockdown. Suffolk Libraries contribution and positive impact before and during lockdown was recently highlighted in a new wellbeing report.