Thursday, July 18, 2024

Libraries phased reopening plan from 6th July

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Libraries phased return starts from Monday 6th July.

What To Expect In Libraries  

Libraries will begin to reopen with a limited number of services from Monday 6th July.

Four libraries, Braunton, Chudleigh and Honiton in Devon and Brixham in Torbay, will reopen from Monday 6th July as pilot libraries with public access to choose books from the shelves and use the computer facilities.

A ‘Choose and Collect’ service starts from Monday 6th July, at most libraries, telephone or email your local library and arrange a collection date for titles selected for you.

Devon Mobile Library service will restart from Monday 13th July running a reduced service.

The Home Library Service and Books on Wheels in Torbay will resume from some libraries from Monday 13th July.

A Book Delivery service – Books by foot, bike and post is available at some libraries.

Book reservations using the Devon Libraries and Torbay Libraries website are currently unavailable, but you can contact your library to see if a book is available for Choose and Collect.

Here’s what libraries are doing to welcome you back safely:

Library Services:

Choose and Collect  
To use the new free of charge ‘Choose and Collect’ service telephone or email your local library, staff will select your books or DVDs and you can collect them from the library entrance at a pre-arranged time.

Digital Library 
Download and stream free eBooks, eAudiobooks and eMagazines from the extensive collection. You can use the online resources from home and access to Ancestry Library Edition has been extended to Devon Libraries and Torbay Libraries through to the end of July.

Book Delivery – Books by foot, bike and post (available from select libraries only) 
The local Book Delivery service allows you to borrow books, DVDs and other library stock from your local library if you live nearby. Simply email or telephone your library, staff will select items based on your discussion and staff will make a delivery to your home.

Library Service at pilot libraries
From Monday 6th July, libraries will offer a limited service at four pilot libraries (Braunton, Brixham, Chudleigh and Honiton) and will roll out opening across Devon and Torbay over the following weeks.

What to expect in the Pilot Libraries:

Opening Times
Libraries will initially offer limited opening times and reduced services.

Opening times will vary for each library and may change over future weeks, so do check opening times for your local library before you make your journey.

Signs and queue management

To keep everyone safe libraries have installed safety signage throughout their buildings.  Safe queuing will be in place to enter the library. There will be 2m social distancing measures, hand sanitisation stations and one-way systems to help the safe flow of customers through libraries.

Customer Numbers
All libraries vary in size, and there will be a limit on the number of customers at any one time.  Factors such as layout, number of floors, staffing and services available may play a part in the safety management.

Hand sanitiser and cleaning
Libraries Unlimited has invested in hand sanitiser stations for each library, enabling you to sanitise when entering the library. Cleaning will be in place for services such as public computers and self-service kiosks.  Each library has been cleaned in advance of reopening and regular cleaning will be in place.

Social distancing
Each library has changed layouts to ensure adequate space for you to move around in safety.  Your library will have marked up the  floor space to support social distancing and libraries request that 2m social distancing is observed by all staff and customers.

Quarantining returned books

For safety reasons libraries may initially be offering a more limited selection of stock for people to choose from. All books and items returned to the library will undergo 72 hours quarantine before they are discharged from your account and returned to the library shelves. Your library will be asking you to place returned items into a box near the library entrance to keep them separate for quarantining.

Browsing books – quarantining
Libraries Unlimited recognises that libraries are places where you enjoy browsing and that glancing through a book before is often an integral part of the experience.

In the event you change your mind, your library has installed ‘browsing trolleys or boxes’ where you can safely leave a book or item you have handled and no longer wish to borrow. At the end of each day, stock on the browsing trolleys will be safely stored away for 72 hours to quarantine them from coronavirus transmission. This system is in place to support safety in libraries.

Booking computers
Services such as computer access, printing and photocopying will be available in the pilot libraries with a view to rolling-out these services as more libraries reopen.

Computer sessions may be limited to 1 hour and are bookable by phone, email or in person at your library.  Please speak to library staff if you think you may need extra time.

Please have the exact money to pay for any printing as there is currently no change available.

Computers are situated to allow for 2m social distancing and will be cleaned between every use. The numbers of computers available at your library will be reduced because of this safety measure.

Computer support
Please see the new links available on the public computer desktops for help with computers and IT queries.  Staff will not be able to give assistance with the computers at this time.

Children’s libraries
Children and families are very important and Libraries Unlimited want to make sure children continue to have a positive experience from their local library.

The pilot libraries are trialling two approaches to help Libraries Unlimited understand how libraries can best encourage a love of reading amongst the youngest customers.

Braunton and Chudleigh will be offering a ‘Choose and Collect’ service for children and families.  Parents and carers are encouraged to call or email in advance so these libraries can offer you a contactless service outside of the library. Due to the space limitations these libraries will not be able to invite children into the library at this time.

Honiton and Brixham will invite families to use the library, however the children’s areas will remain closed at this time. Some stock will be available in the main library and staff will be able to bring you any items that you require from the children’s library. Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult in the library.

Libraries encourage parents and carers to speak with their children before they visit the library, about social distancing and also to let them know that whilst the library experience will feel different their library still loves them and wants them to enjoy reading and learning! Libraries very much look forward to the day when they can restart children’s events and activities and hear the sound of happy children enjoying the library once more. Please visit Devon Libraries and Torbay Libraries social media and websites for details of the online events programme that will be available over the next few months.

Customers are encouraged to give feedback about their library experience.

Events in libraries will remain suspended for now but you can still enjoy the activities and events that will be streamed and shared online.

Devon Libraries and Torbay Libraries will continue to develop the online digital offer so you have plenty of choice from the comfort of your home.  Find out more via or

Online reservations via the websites are currently unavailable. The full reservation system will be reintroduced after all libraries reopen.

If you have already placed an online reservation, please note this will not be satisfied until 31st August 2020 at the earliest due to the system closure, unless your library contacts you.

Account limits
You can now borrow a maximum of 24 books. This is a temporary measure and will be reviewed in December 2020.

Returning items
For all items borrowed prior to lockdown, Libraries Unlimited has extended loan dates through to the end of August 2020 in order to phase book returns. Libraries request that you continue to hold onto books, CDs and DVDs. You do not need to make a special visit to your local library to return items and you will be able to return them from when your library reopens throughout July and August. There will be no fines as your current loan period has been extended.


Libraries encourage you to make payments via the self-service kiosks, and in libraries where we have contactless payment via card.  You will need to pay with the exact cash as libraries will not be able to offer change.

Library cafes will reopen with a limited offer when Exeter Library, Passmore Edwards Centre and The Hayridge open.

Other Facilities

  • Customer lifts will be limited to one person, or one family group at a time.
  • Customer toilets will remain closed until further notice to maintain a safe environment.
  • Seating areas in most libraries will be limited or removed due to space restrictions and social distancing.

Visiting your library for the first time?
If you are visiting libraries for the first time please join online in advance. You will be able to use the digital services immediately. When you visit the library please bring your temporary [UNREG] number and staff will provide you with your library card.

StaffThe safety of both staff and customers are important to Libraries Unlimited, and they are working hard to ensure libraries provide a safe and protective environment.

Following government guidance staff are provided with safety equipment and you may see staff wearing gloves, masks or visors.  All members of staff have completed Health & Safety training on how to work safely in this new environment.

When libraries will open:

‘Choose and Collect’– from Monday 6th July at most libraries.

Please visit your local library page on Devon Libraries or Torbay Libraries websites to check availability.

Devon Libraries 

Pilots: Braunton, Chudleigh, Honiton

Phase one: Crediton, Dartmouth, Exmouth, Ilfracombe, Kingbridge, Okehampton, Sidmouth, South Molton, St. Thomas, Tavistock

Phase two: Barnstaple, Bideford, Dawlish, Exeter, Hayridge, Ivybridge, Ottery, Passmore Edwards Centre, Seaton, Teignmouth, Tiverton, Totnes 

Torbay Libraries

Pilot: Brixham

Phase two: Paignton, Torquay

Dates and additional libraries not listed above will be confirmed phase by phase and are subject to change.

Meeting Room Hire
Libraries are taking bookings for meetings starting from 1st September.

Libraries Unlimited is keeping a close eye on any changes to Government guidance, so please understand that if this changes, they may need to be in touch to advise you if this affects your booking.

To make a booking or for room hire enquiries please call 0333 2342123 or email [email protected]

For general information and advice please visit

Libraries Unlimited is the charity responsible for running Devon and Torbay Libraries. Libraries Unlimited believes in the unlimited potential of library services to make a positive difference to people’s lives and communities through a shared love of reading and access to high quality information, facilities and events.

For more details about Libraries Unlimited, visit or search /Libraries Unlimited on Facebook or @LibrariesUnLtd on Twitter.

Boost News Desk
Boost News Desk
Robert Haylor has 14 years of web development experience, starting out as a web developer whilst still in his university dorm room at Birmingham City University. With a background and a strong interest in website design & development he is skilled in a variety of programming languages including PHP, MySQL, CSS3 and HTML5. As Managing Director of Boost Digital Media, he regularly jumps on to client projects on a daily basis as well as ensuring the company strategy is being implemented and is delivering results.

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