Kent County Council will start a phased reopening of its libraries from Monday, July 13, with a new ‘Select and Collect’ service temporarily replacing bookshelf browsing.
The reopening will initially start with 12 of the county’s libraries – including one in Thanet – and will focus primarily on the Select and Collect service, as well as free PC and WiFi use, which will be bookable in advance.
Broadstairs Library is one of the 12 scheduled for reopening.
James Pearson, KCC’s Head of Libraries, Registration and Archives, said: “Our priority is to make Kent’s libraries as safe as possible, so not all of our services will be available initially.
“Our Select and Collect service will provide a book-borrowing service where orders can be made both online and over the phone, allowing customers to pick their items up from one of the 12 libraries at an agreed date and time. Crucially, the Select and Collect service will avoid the need for physical bookshelf browsing – keeping our customers and staff as safe as possible.”
KCC plans to launch the Select and Collect book ordering service from July 7. Customers who order items from that date will be contacted and given a time slot to pick up their items when libraries reopen from July 13. From that date, the book collection service, along with pre-bookable PC and WiFi usage, will be available from each of the 12 libraries 10am-4pm, Monday to Saturday.
“We know many of our customers have lots of books and other items that they borrowed before the lockdown,” said Mr Pearson. “We can reassure everyone that there will be no overdue charges for any items for this period and we are renewing all items taken out before lockdown until 31 December.”
Customers will be able to return borrowed items to any of the 12 libraries listed to a drop box or a return bin outside one of the 12 open libraries from Tuesday 7 July.
In addition, KCC has already restarted its Home Library Service deliveries, along with its postal loan service to the blind and partially sighted – ensuring it continues to provide crucial services to its most vulnerable cusomers. KCC expects to restart the mobile library service in late July.
These services complement the various digital library offers currently available online at www.kent.gov.uk/libs – including free online joining, e-books, e-audio books, e-magazines, and e-newspapers.
Customers can start using the Select and Collect service from July 7 by visiting www.kent.gov.uk/libs or by calling 03000 413131.