You may like to make a cuppa to get you through this long document! But please read on carefully as it does contain a lot of important information.
After the Government announcement of 23rd June, we are delighted to say that Morrab Library will be taking its first tentative steps towards opening again from Wednesday July 15th. The necessity to keep staff, volunteers and members as safe as possible is our first priority, and we will need to work within the context of health and safety legislation and best practice guidelines for libraries to achieve this. So please bear with us as we take a careful and steady approach over a period of time to try and get everything back on track.
We need to take gradual steps, offering more services over a number of stages. In this way, we can trial each step, and make sure it’s working effectively, before moving on to the next level.This takes into account factors such as staffing levels and extra time needed for additional tasks.
Sadly of course, this means that things can’t be as they were, at least initially, before we closed. But we hope you understand and will be patient with us as we take these actions, to both mitigate risk and ensure that we’ll be able to get things back on track, as far as possible. We are working within a constantly evolving situation, and the service we can offer will change alongside this.
From current thinking, COVID-19 is transferred via respiratory droplets, and breathing these in presents the biggest infection risk. The more people in an area and the longer they stay, the greater the risk of passing on the disease. Therefore, we will need to limit the number of people in the building, so entry at this stage will be by appointment only.
It needs to be said that while the staff will do all it can to make the library as safe as possible, we cannot of course guarantee it 100%, so each member will need to make their own decision about whether they feel they can visit.
At this stage, it won’t be possible for volunteers to help us at the front desk – this goes against guidelines and best practice around safeguarding and multiple people handling the same objects, in our case items such as the loans cards, date stamps, sharing desks etc. so the staff will be extra busy – we ask for your patience.
The following outlines our first stage on the path to one day being fully operational, explaining the action we are taking. Once we have tested the process and see how things work, we’ll then be able to move on to the next stage, and offer more.
Opening hours and access
- The library will open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10.00 am to 3.00pm. This reflects staff capacity, the necessity to spend more time cleaning the library each day, and completing essential tasks when less people are about .
- At this initial stage, the library will only be open for book loans, returns and books sales.
- Entry will be by appointment only. We need to be very strict about how many people can safely be in the library and share spaces at the one time. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01736 364474 and leave a message with your name and contact entails – staff will contact you to arrange an appointment.
- We’ll be able to take bookings for appointments from 10.00am on Wednesday 8th July. We do envisage a busy first rush, so we may need to beg your patience as things settle down.
- Please don’t try to visit unless you have received confirmation of your appointment time. We do not want you to have to queue outside for any lengthy period, especially if the weather proves as erratic as it has been of late.
- Please book for an appointment as far in advance as you can to avoid disappointment.
- You do not need to make an appointment if you are only returning or collecting books and do not wish to enter the building beyond the entrance foyer.
- Initially, we will be able to welcome you for a visit of 30 minutes. This will hopefully allow enough time to select books to borrow. We need to keep the permitted time short so we can allow as many members as possible to access the building safely over the course of the day. Our statistics show that 75% of all of our loans are from our fiction collections, which is centred in one room, so we need to be aware of how people will be in that room at the same time. Numbers and timings will be constantly reviewed.
- If you are isolating as a household, a couple or family can come in together.
- Only library members (or members of their household) will be able to access the building – we will sadly not be able to welcome any visitors at this stage, unless they are expressly wishing to join as a new member.
- We cannot accept any book donations at this time.
- The Photo Archive will not be open to visitors on Thursday mornings at this time, but please email email@example.com, or call the library and we can pass on any enquiries.
While you are with us
- It will not be possible to remain in the library beyond choosing or returning books.
- Hand sanitiser will be on offer at the front door, and we will ask that you make use of it BEFORE entering the building. Alternatively, you are very welcome to wear your own gloves and masks. There will be additional hand sanitising stations throughout the building.
- Social distancing practices will be in place (working to the 2 metre rule) and staff will be working behind a temporary screen. We don’t relish this latter prospect, but it is sadly a necessity at this time in order to mitigate any risk to staff.
- We will be aiming to start opening up the rooms upstairs by appointment for those who wish to work or read in the library within a couple of weeks. We just want to get the initial access issues up and running and make sure our procedures are as safe as they can be, before expanding services.
Loans and Returns
- If you are returning library books, please bring them in a bag (preferably one you don’t want back), and include a note with your name on it. There will be special boxes in the foyer where you can leave them – in keeping with health and safety guidelines, they will need to be quarantined for 72 hours before staff can process them.
- The lifting on restrictions on the number of loans will remain, meaning you can borrow more than six books at a time. If you don’t feel comfortable coming to the library yourself, you can nominate a fellow member, friend or family to borrow and collect books on your behalf.
- We will be offering a collection service. If you send us a list of titles you are seeking, we can check our holdings and the shelves, and if they are available, we can bag them up and leave them for you or a friend or family member to collect from the foyer, so you won’t have to come into the rest of the building.
- The magazines and newspapers normally located in the Reading Room will be moved to the tables in the Jenner Room, and be available for loan.
- The ground floor toilet will be available, but we ask that it be accessed only if completely necessary. Please leave the space as clean as possible after use. A hand sanitising station will be located just outside.
- Sadly, the kitchen will be closed to members, and not accessible.
- Lockers will not be in use. Bags must remain with you. They cannot be left at the desk or elsewhere. Again, we are obliged to avoid multiple people touching the same objects.
- The till will be in operation for book and other sales, donations and new memberships and renewals. Payment by card is our preferred option, although we will accept cheques and cash. Appropriate hygiene measures will be in place for using the till.
- The photocopier will only be available for the use of library staff, but we will happily copy anything you need on your behalf.
- The lift will be in operation and hand sanitising stations will be available in the foyers on each floor.
- Parking at the library should generally be possible during this time, although if you would like to be guaranteed a parking spot, please let us know when you make your appointment.
- Library staff will carry out regular cleaning of ‘hotspots’ around the building throughout the day, such as door handles, stair bannisters and the toilet.
- We will also undertake a deep clean of the library after hours each day.
- Desks, chairs and other items will need to be cleaned in between different people using them.
Please contact Lisa (firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a message on 01736 364474 and I’ll call you back) if you have any questions or concerns. A detailed reopening plan is available on request for those who might like to see it.
We would also like to offer my assistance to any of you who will need to continue to self-isolate and won’t be able to visit, or do not have anyone who can borrow books on your behalf. Please get in touch so we can find a way to help you if we can.
I know this is not an ideal situation, but hopefully this is just the beginning of a gradual return to the normality of the Morrab Library we all love so much. Thank you so much for your wonderful support throughout lockdown, and as we move forward into this rather unknown territory!
Lisa Di Tommaso