A further eight libraries across County Durham will once more open their doors from next week.
Durham County Council has already reopened three-quarters of its libraries since lockdown restrictions were introduced in March, allowing visitors to choose their own books straight from the shelves or access public computers.
From Monday 2 November, Annfield Plain; Ferryhill; Willington; Horden; Pelton; Sacriston; Shotton and South Moor will also reopen.
These join the 29 libraries that opened in September, including Barnard Castle; Wolsingham; Chester-le-Street; Consett; Stanley; Crook; Newton Aycliffe; Peterlee; Seaham; Easington; Woodhouse Close and Bishop Auckland Town Hall in Bishop Auckland; Sedgefield; Shildon; Spennymoor; Thornley and Belmont, Clayport and Newton Hall, in Durham, as well as Bowburn; Blackhall; Brandon; Chilton; Cornforth; Lanchester; Langley Park; Murton; Trimdon and Wingate.
Work has been carried out by the council’s building and facilities maintenance team to put measures in place to make the venues as safe as possible. Weekly checks will be carried out and any changes implemented where necessary to keep people safe and in response to any modification to Government guidelines. Arrangements for libraries may also be reviewed should there any be change to the level of coronavirus restrictions in place for the North East.
Cllr Tracie Smith, Durham County Council’s Cabinet support member for transformation, culture and tourism, said: “It is fantastic to see more of our libraries reopening across County Durham. From Monday, 37 out of 39 libraries will have opened their doors to welcome back our customers and I’d like to thank our staff for their hard work in making this happen.
“Things may continue to look a little different because of measures in place to ensure customers can return to libraries safely, and some services are still not on offer. However, we are working hard to reintroduce as many well-loved features as we can as soon as possible.”
It is hoped that the reopening of libraries will encourage more people to visit the county’s towns and villages, supporting local businesses and helping towards the county’s economic recovery from coronavirus.
The only libraries not scheduled to reopen at this time are the community libraries at Esh Winning and Coundon. Because these libraries are co-located within a primary school and medical practice, the decision has been taken to delay their reopening for safety reasons.
All other library services, including printing, photocopying, study tables, easy seating and soft furnishings, children’s toys and jigsaws; along with meeting rooms, community room access and events, will remain suspended for the time being.
Library users in County Durham will still be able to access online services, with an extended digital offer including more eBooks, eMagazines and eAudiobooks titles and free access to research tool Ancestry.
These services will continue alongside Doorstep Book Delivery service, which was introduced during the lockdown period to provide books for isolated and vulnerable Books on Wheels library users.
Library opening hours may differ at each library and will not be in line with their former opening hours.
Anyone can become a member of the library service by visiting Library Online or calling one of the libraries that are reopening.
For more information, including contact details for participating libraries, visit www.durham.gov.uk/libraries or call 03000 260 000.
Follow the library service’s Facebook or Twitter accounts at https://twitter.com/DurhamLibraries and https://www.facebook.com/CountyDurhamLibraries/