Following Parliamentary agreement on the new government lockdown regulations, Suffolk Libraries has announced how its services will look over the next month.
Unlike the first lockdown, many libraries in Suffolk will be open, providing limited access to some of the most valued services ensuring vulnerable and isolated people are not cut off. This reflects the government’s acknowledgment, in the new regulations, that libraries represent an essential service to communities.
All libraries are now closed until Sunday 8 November to give staff the rest of the week to prepare for providing these services. Many will then reopen again during the week of 9 November, offering access to computers and enabling people to collect library loans they’ve pre-ordered via the reservation or select and collect service. This approach has been approved by the government and Suffolk County Council.
As is already the case, libraries will be operating under strict safety regulations. People will only be allowed inside for pre-booked computer appointments for important tasks such as job-seeking or applying for benefits. There will be no browsing in libraries and the mobile library service and home library service will also be suspended.
Suffolk Libraries will maintain limited services for those who really need them but will also be making it easier for people not to visit. There is no rush to return books as loan and reservation collection dates will be extended until 16 December with fines also suspended until 16 December.
The following libraries will reopen on Monday 9 or Tuesday 10 November: Aldeburgh, Beccles, Brandon, Bury St Edmunds, Broomhill, Bungay, Capel St Mary, Clare, Debenham, Eye, Felixstowe, Framlingham, Gainsborough, Glemsford, Great Cornard, Hadleigh, Halesworth, Haverhill, Ipswich, Ixworth, Kedington, Kesgrave, Kessingland, Lakenheath, Lavenham, Leiston, Long Melford, Lowestoft, Mildenhall, Needham, Oulton Broad, Rosehill, Saxmundham, Southwold, Stowmarket, Sudbury, Thurston, Wickham Market, Woodbridge.
A few of these libraries may not be able to offer computer access and opening hours may differ during lockdown. For full details please check the information on the COVID-19 information page and and the specific library pages.
Stradbroke Library remains open this week and throughout lockdown as it hosts a post office. Newmarket Library will remain closed until 24 November as essential work to upgrade the lighting has been rearranged to coincide with lockdown. All other libraries will remain closed during lockdown for logistical reasons.
Suffolk Libraries will continue to offer its popular interactive online service during lockdown which includes the extensive eLibrary and library staff will stream and share storytelling sessions for young children and other video content. Staff will also resume the highly valued Lifeline service, making calls to older and isolated customers.
Bruce Leeke, Chief Executive of Suffolk Libraries, said:
“Suffolk Libraries is committed to ensuring that the most vulnerable are not cut-off from support during this challenging time. People can still use computers for job-seeking, updating CVs or applying for benefits. Books are vital for wellbeing and education and people can still request and collect books too. Our team are also committed to entertaining, engaging and inspiring through our online offer.
"The safety of our staff and customers is always our number one priority and we would not be keeping many of our libraries open unless we were confident we could do so safely. As we provide essential services to so many we want to be there when our communities need us most. Over the last seven months people have realised the vital role played by their local library and this is reflected by the decision to allow us to maintain some of our most important services. We also have so much on offer online which thousands of people enjoyed during the last lockdown. The pandemic might mean constant change but we are committed to being there for the people of Suffolk whatever the circumstances.”
Suffolk Libraries is asking anyone thinking of visiting a library during lockdown to check the website or call the library first. Anyone coming to a library must wear a face covering and follow the safety procedures and anyone coming inside the building has to take part in test and trace.
The Suffolk Libraries customer service team will be still be available to help with any customer queries during lockdown and can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01473 351249 from Monday to Friday.