After four months of lockdown, six of Greenwich’s largest libraries have reopened this week, Monday July 6.
The reopening will provide residents with access to books and computers once again, but a new system is now in place to ensure those using them are kept safe.
Greenwich Council have revealed that the libraries now open are in Woolwich, Eltham, Blackheath, New Eltham, West Greenwich, and the Greenwich Centre.
As part of the post Covid-19 plans, some furniture has been removed, strict cleaning regimes introduced as well as shorter sessions.
Adel Khaireh, the council’s cabinet member for culture, communities and equalities, expressed his “delight” at the the libraries starting to reopen again, and said they were “valuable and vital resources” for the local community. ”
“Of course, we can’t operate the libraries in the same way we did previously, and we’re not sure how long it will be until everything is back to normal, so in the meantime, please do bear with us as we all get used to a new way of working.
“You’ll also need to make sure you continue to social distance at all times while in the libraries. We want to give everyone the opportunity to make use of our libraries again, but need to do so in a safe and considered way.
“It’s been hard for lots of people at home during lockdown I’d like to thank the Better library team for stepping up and continuing to provide an online alternative while we’ve not been able to open the physical libraries.”
The libraries will initially open from 10am to 2pm on their usual days, with reduced 30 minute computer sessions to ensure more people can access them.
All of them will have strict cleaning regimes, including a 72 hour quarantine on all books returned. The remaining smaller libraries in Greenwich will likely open in August instead as they are much more difficult to socially distance in.
There will be a maximum number of people allowed in the libraries at any one time, and you may be required to queue if we’re at capacity when you arrive.
Diana Edmonds, MBE, National Libraries Director at Better said: “We’ve been working behind the scenes readying our Greenwich Libraries for the welcome return of customers from 6 July.
“We’ve maintained our online offer during lockdown and this has been popular with library users stuck at home.
”But there’s no denying the social benefits of a library visit and as a social enterprise Better are keen to get back to serving our lovely library users, helping them find what they want and ensuring they get the most out of their visit.”
While the libraries were physically shut, Better, the social enterprise that operates the libraries on behalf of the Council, continued to provide much of its services online, including sessions such as Baby Rhyme Time which will continue online.