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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Michael Kenwood

Phased reopening of libraries across NI later this month

Libraries across Northern Ireland will start a phased reopening for the public later this month.

And to facilitate the new services and help prepare for reopening, customers are being told they can return their books to all libraries from this week.

Libraries NI has announced that, as part of the pilot scheme for reopening libraries, 90 libraries will start to provide customers with a “Book and Collect” service from Monday July 20.

The service will enable library members to phone their local library to request a selection of books and arrange contactless collection. This will remain in place until such time as their library reopens.

Banbridge, Dungannon, Warrenpoint and Larne libraries have already started operating a trial service for “Book and Collect” from July 6.

The pilot also will have five libraries reopen in a fuller capacity, allowing customers access to the branch for book browsing, and limited access to IT.

The five are Omagh and Lisburn City libraries, reopening on Tuesday July 21, and Belfast Central, Bangor Carnegie, Derry Central libraries, reopening on Thursday July 23. They form part of the first phase of a larger pilot to test NI Libraries new approach to service delivery.

A customer charter has been developed to help staff and customers understand the new safety operational measures that will be in place.

There will be controls on the number of people allowed in libraries at any one time and each customer will be asked to limit themselves to 30 minutes browsing and/or 30 minutes’ computer use. Toilet facilities will be closed during the pilot phase and printing or photocopying will also be unavailable.

Staff will be equipped with PPE, screens will be installed at customer desks, hand sanitiser will be available for all customers entering the library and a high level of cleaning will take place throughout each of the libraries.

Returned books will also be stored for a period in each library before being returned to the shelves. As public health guidance changes, this preliminary service offering will be reviewed.

All members can start returning books now - to find out hours visit the website.

No returns will be taken during the public holidays on Monday and Tuesday July 13 and 14.

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