Manchester City Council will begin the phased process of safely welcoming residents back to their local libraries from Saturday 4 July.
Eight of the city’s libraries – including City Library, on the lower ground floor of Manchester Central Library – will be open to all users on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, from 11am – 3pm. Children aged 12 and under must be accompanied by a parent, carer or older sibling.
The eight libraries which are reopening at this stage are Chorlton Library, City Library (at Central Library), Didsbury Library, Gorton Library, Longsight Library, Newton Heath Library, Withington Library and Forum Library, Wythenshawe.
With the exception of City Library, all of these libraries will open at 10am on Tuesdays and Thursdays, reserving the first hour as a special slot for residents aged over 60.
Users will be allowed a window of up to 30 minutes to browse for books, or can select and reserve up to six books at a time for collection in advance by using the Libraries’ online catalogue.
A limited number of computers will also be available for use by the public at each site. Due to limited availability, people wishing to visit the library to use a computer are encouraged to call in advance and book their slot.
From Monday 29 June, library users can start reserving books to be picked up when their chosen library is open, using the online libraries catalogue. Options are to Ring and Read – get help to find books which you might enjoy by calling one of the libraries that are opening – or Click and Collect, using www.manchester.gov.uk/libraries.
Books which were borrowed before libraries were forced to close because of the coronavirus pandemic have been renewed until the end of July, meaning that fines will not have been accrued during this period.
To help ensure social distancing, the numbers of users allowed inside each library at one time will be limited, so it may be necessary to queue outside the library for safety reasons at busy times. Hand sanitisers will be available at each entrance for visitors’ use.
The Books To Go service for housebound residents restarted earlier this month and will continue to deliver books to its customers every four weeks.
Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Luthfur Rahman, said: “Since the pandemic forced us to close our libraries in March, we’ve done everything possible to connect residents with books, information and activities online. However, we’ve really missed seeing them and are keen to welcome them back to their libraries in person.
“This is only the start of the reopening process, which needs to be done in a careful and gradual way, but it is nevertheless an important step forward and one we’re looking forward to.
“Social distancing is still very much a requirement at all times. This is why, at this stage, we’re only able to open selected libraries for restricted numbers of visitors at a time, but we will be keeping this under review over the course of the summer.
“Nevertheless, this does mean that residents will be soon able to access our fantastic catalogue of books and free computer facilities once again. We will provide further updates as soon as we are able to safely reopen more libraries and extend opening hours.”
For more information about the libraries which will be reopening on July 4, visit www.manchester.gov.uk/libraries.