Kingston libraries reopen after six months

Libraries in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames have reopened after being closed for six months during the pandemic.

Across the borough, five libraries have opened as Covid-19 secure environments, allowing the community to browse for books.

A spokeswoman for Kingston Council said: “As we reopen libraries the experience is not the same as customers are used to but giving customers access to book stock is essential and can be a lifeline.”

The libraries which have opened are Kingston, Surbiton, New Malden, Tudor Drive and, Hook and Chessington.

All have reduced opening hours with a limited browsing time of 25 minutes – Tudor Drive Library also requires residents to book an appointment for their visit.

Resident Ann Gibbons visited Kingston Library recently to return books and said: “I am very glad they are reopening the libraries. I like to borrow books rather than buying them.”

Libraries are operating at reduced capacity, and visitors must socially distance, wear face coverings and use the hand sanitiser provided.

Visitors are also required to submit their name and contact details for track and trace purposes under government guidelines.

All borrowed books are quarantined for 72 hours before being returned to the shelves.

The libraries can offer computer access for residents but study spaces, newspapers and magazines remain unavailable.

Library services moved online in March as a result of the lockdown resulting in e-book and audiobook usage doubling.

“Kingston libraries have been recognised at a national level for their digital presence during lockdown being one of the first services to offer events online,” said a Kingston Council spokeswoman.

Old Malden and Tolworth libraries remain closed for the time being.

Staff are happy to assist members of the public, and Covid-19 measures within the libraries are reviewed weekly.

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