From Monday 12 April, Bedford Borough libraries will begin to reopen on a phased basis in line with the "next step" of the Government's Coronavirus roadmap out of Lockdown.
Bedford Central and Kempston libraries will open from 12th April 2021, with Putnoe Library opening from 19th April 2021. Bromham and Wootton libraries will open from 26th April 2021, with a Select and Collect service available at these two sites for some hours between 14th and 26th April 2021. You can check the website for opening hours and further service updates on the Virtual Library website.
Initially the libraries will be open for managed browsing, allowing you to select your own books. Essential computer use will also be available and people are encouraged to book a session in advance if they can, as fewer computers are available due to social distancing. You can book a 45 minute session at https://bedford.imil.uk/.
Safety remains the priority and measures are in place to ensure that customers feel comfortable, confident and safe in using library services. There will be a maximum capacity allowed for each library, so you may need to queue at busy times, and during this initial period of reopening customers will not be able to sit or study while visiting the library.
Changes have been made to the layout of the library to make it as easy as possible to browse the shelves and choose your own books. Some other services will not be available for the time being and LibraryPlus hours will not be in operation during the initial period.
Please wear a face covering when you visit the libraries, unless you have a legitimate reason not to, and remember to make space between yourself and other people and to regularly wash or sanitise your hands. Customers will also be asked to use the NHS Test and Trace app, or if you are not able to your contact details will be taken for the same purpose.
With libraries opening, the current Select and Collect service will reduce. Staff selected bundles will no longer be available, but you can request individual titles for free using the library app or by calling the library. The books will be issued to your card when they are ready, so all you need to do is pick them up from the collection shelves in the relevant library.
The exception to this is that the full Select and Collect service will be offered at Bromham and Wootton libraries only from 14th April 2021 up to the point these libraries open on 26th April 2021. Details about this service can be found via the Virtual Library.
During this initial period of reopening, please don't worry if you are unable to visit a library - loans have been extended for a further period plus you can renew your books online or by telephone.
The Mobile Library will also be returning from the week beginning 12th April 2021. Due to the small space, customers will not be able to browse the shelves on the vehicle, but will be able to request books using the Select and Collect service and collect them from a Mobile Library stop. A temporary change to routes will be in place and details will be available shortly via the Virtual Library.
Councillor Doug McMurdo Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture said "The staff have done a fantastic job providing a much-needed service throughout this difficult year, ensuring people could still access books and other library stock while we have all been staying at home much more than we normally would. Now we can start to get our libraries reopen in a COVID-safe and responsible way, and we look forward to welcoming you all back."