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No firm date for libraries to reopen as Camden works on safety plans

Council says announcement will come very soon

07 July, 2020 — By Richard Osley

Swiss Cottage Library

LIBRARY users will have to wait a little longer as Camden Council continues to work on its reopening plans following the coronavirus lockdown.

Like pubs and restaurants, the government allowed libraries to reopen on Saturday but branches in Camden remained shut. Items out on loan have been automatically renewed so users will not face penalties for late returns.

A council spokesperson said: “Following the most recent guidance from government, we are working on plans to make sure Camden’s libraries can be opened safely. This will include a phased approach to reopening, with limited computer access available at two libraries first. This approach will be followed in the remaining venues over the summer period.

“During this time we will continue to offer our digital library and expand our range of online events and resources. During the coronavirus outbreak, the Home Library Service (HLS) has delivered books to residents on the government’s shielded list. Over the summer, the service will resume deliveries to its existing housebound customers with an aim to expand its offer to new clients.

They added: “Protecting residents and staff remains our priority and we are working to make sure that safety measures are in place before reopening. This includes completing full risk assessments of all our libraries in consultation with our union colleagues. We will release more information on our steps to reopening with dates very soon and look forward to welcoming residents back to Camden’s libraries.”

In 2011, Camden’s then leisure chief, Tulip Siddiq, now the MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, handed control of three council-run libraries to volunteers to save money: Keats Library in Hampstead, Belsize Library in Belsize Park and Primrose Hill Community Library, previously known as Chalk Farm Library.

Keats Library said it was waiting for the green light from its landlord – Keats House – to reopen, but desks, sofas and computers will not be available when it does.

“We will open for 2 days a week to assess demand, check our procedures and train the team in this strange new world,” it said on its website.

Primrose Hill Community Library said it was waiting for guidance for Camden but was expecting the service to not include computer use or seating when it did reopen.

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