When will the libraries reopen in the UK - and what will be different?

A complete return to normal life might be some way away, but things are set to change…

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With the lockdown measures put in place back in March now beginning to ease, many book-lovers will be eager to return to our libraries as soon as it is safe to do so.

The 15th June has seen non-essential retails stories allowed to open, provided they are able to ensure the branches are safe for customers. In line with these new lockdown rules, the retail spaces in libraries are now allowed to re-open.

Avid readers need not fear, though, as the plan is currently for libraries to fully re-open in the third phase of lockdown easing, with the 4th July stated to be the earliest possible date for this.

This phase is dependent upon official data that suggests that COVID-19 cases are declining and so governmental decisions regarding libraries, restaurants, pubs and other non-essential services are subject to change.

What precautions will libraries be put in place before reopening?

If the current plans remain in place, libraries will be required to ensure social distancing measures are observed.

Whilst the government has not yet outlined any specifics regarding distancing rules to maintain the safety of staff and visitors alike upon re-opening, the suggestion is that re-opening will happen in phases.

Based on risk assessments, the availability and number of staff members and government advice, there could be a limit on the number of people allowed in libraries at any one time.


Click-and-collect services, which have been used to great effect in various sectors throughout lockdown, could also be put into practice here.

Library members would be able to arrange to collect a particular book at a specific date and time. In this way, they will be able to minimise the contact people have with others.

This policy is already being implemented at some libraries in Wales, with library services partially reopening to offer this ‘reserve and collect’ service.

One-way systems for entry and exit and staggered opening times are also currently being considered in light of the two-metre distancing rules.

Looking for some ideas to help you choose your next book? We love this list of inspirational books on how to raise a strong girl. Youngsters will also love the ideas on this  list of best new kids' books (including David Walliams latest book) - and, these books are perfect for Father's Day.

When might we know about libraries reopening?

The government have not yet announced how long the social distancing measures will continue.

However on 13th May they unveiled five new ministerial-lead taskforces devoted to vulnerable sectors of the economy after the publication of the UK’s roadmap to rebuild Britain.

These taskforces are intended to liaise with unions and others to determine how each sector can safely resume with these distancing measures in place.

With this soon to be underway, readers can rest assured that before long, they will be able to access their library’s bounty of children's books safely once more.

Emma Shacklock
Senior Lifestyle Writer

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home, Goodto.com, and My Imperfect Life.