Libraries to open next week – but don’t browse too long!

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New Forest libraries
Libraries like the one in Lyndhurst will open next week

BOOKWORMS will be free to browse their New Forest libraries as Hampshire County Council announced they are reopening on Monday after more than three months’ closure.

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Customers will have to observe safety measures such as social distancing, limiting visits to 30 minutes, and using hand sanitisers. They are also being asked to use the Spydus app to check out and return books by mobile phone.

Outstanding fines can be paid online at or by using contactless kiosks inside the library. Late fees will remain frozen until the start of August.

People will be able to use shared computers free of charge, but they must be booked in advance either online, or by calling 01962 454747.

Cllr Sean Woodward, HCC cabinet member for recreation and heritage, said: “We’ve seen an enormous increase in the number of people using our digital library services.

“Our staff have also been delivering online workshops and activities and staying in touch with our most vulnerable customers.

“These new and enhanced schemes offer new opportunities for people to access a wide range of library services, demonstrating a shift in the way people are using library resources.”

He said for those who still wished to visit a library they would be ‘Covid-secure’, adding: “We would ask people to use the self-service kiosks as far as possible and expect to wait sometimes, as there will be reduced capacity in the buildings due to social distancing.”

Sessions for a place to study can be also be booked online, or by ringing the same number. Groups, such as mother and baby, are still not able to meet in the libraries but are holding online sessions. Toilets at all the libraries will remain closed.

During lockdown libraries in the county have been operating a digital service including Ready Reads where staff select books for customers to collect from their local branch. This has been used 3,000 times.

Christchurch library will be among the first in the BCP Council area to reopen. A wide range of services will be available from Monday although some changes have been made to ensure the safety of public and staff.

There will be a one-way system and protective screens, and customers are being warned to expect queues at busy times. It is hoped all the council’s libraries will be open by August.

Opening hours will change temporarily to allow staff to safely restock and to manage the order and collect service. Further information can be found at www.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/libraries.

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