You may have seen that libraries in Staffordshire have begun to open again following temporary closure due to Covid-19. As a Community Managed Library, we will be watching closely how the County Council Managed Libraries get on with their carefully-planned reopening operations and will be following in their footsteps, based on valuable lessons learned by the professional librarians.

This is all with a view to being able to safely manage the relaunch of the service we offer, with the health of both the public and our volunteers paramount. Please watch this space for an exact date, but we are likely to embark on the first part of a phased approach in early September.

Phase 1, at much reduced hours, maybe on two or three days a week, will look rather different from usual. There will be no access into the library itself. Business will be conducted at the doorway with the requisite social distancing measures in place and two facilities will be offered:

(a) Drop-off of books that were issued before lockdown. No fines will be incurred and books will be quarantined for 72 hours before being reshelved;

(b) Pick-up of books that have been chosen for you via a free ‘order and collect’ service – please follow this link Order and Collect for further details and to order online, or pick up an order form or phone us on 01384 872348 once we are open. The opportunity to reserve specific books will not be available initially, but you can indicate your preferred authors and/or genres, and the format (hardback, paperback etc) and the volunteers will choose books for you, up to a maximum of eight, then contact you when they are available to collect.

Phase 2, following around a month of the first phase, will allow access into the library for use of some of the public computers, again socially-distanced, with booked timeslots.

Phase 3, clearly some time off, will look more like ‘business as usual’ with browsing allowed and the return of paid-for services such as photocopying.

The timing of all of this will be dependent on developing conditions, and there may be changes, always with an eye on minimising risks. Initially our range of popular groups and activities will remain on hold but in time these will hopefully all be reintroduced.

Thank you very much for bearing with us while we plan to reopen safely. There will be new ways of working for us to get to grips with and much to prepare. Meanwhile, there’s a huge range of electronic material available via the eLibrary. The volunteers look forward to running the library again for the community, even though our service is going to look rather different in the early stages. And remember, there’ll be no fines incurred on pre-lockdown books.