Libraries set for early phased reopening

Libraries in the Borders will begin to reopen this month as part of an accelerated reopening plan by Live Borders.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 2:17 pm
Councillor Euan Jardine at Galashiels library.

Four libraries – in Galashiels, Hawick, Eyemouth and Peebles – will reopen on a phased basis with limited opening hours to measure public demand for the services.

Galashiels library will open on July 5, Hawick on July 12, Eyemouth on July 21 and finally the library and Tweeddale museum in Peebles on July 26.

The facilities at Galashiels, Hawick and Peebles will initially open for 10 hours a week with Eyemouth opening for a total of seven hours. These will be reviewed on an ongoing basis as communities begin to re-engage with face-to-face library services.

Full details, including opening hours of the sites, can be accessed at www.liveborders.org.uk/culture/libraries/our-libraries

Councillor Euan Jardine, executive member for wellbeing, sport and culture at Scottish Borders Council, who last month called for the facilities to reopen, said: “The pandemic has outlined the importance of facilities like libraries as a vital community hub for people of all ages.

“They act as a focal point within our communities, offering access to a wide variety of vital services like books and computers and this announcement comes as welcome news.

Libraries have a significant part to play as our communities begin to recover post-pandemic and their gradual reopening is an important first step in a return to normality.”

Members of the public will have the opportunity to browse and borrow books and access digital facilities including PCs and printers.

A pre-booking system, which will go live seven days before re-opening, will be in place for all libraries.

Visits will be limited to 20-minute slots to allow as many users as possible to access the service, whilst the wearing of masks will be required in all the buildings.

A pre-booking system will also be in place for use of computers and printer/photocopying facilities. Users can pre-book online, or can telephone library staff on who will make the booking on their behalf.

The ‘Get Into Summer’ programme will support activities around the reduced opening hours.

There will also be a programme of activities such as Bookbug events for early years children at alternative venues while libraries open up more fully.

All other activities including book groups will continue to take place online, whilst room bookings for meetings and group activity will not start again until August.

Public library services that have continued to operate throughout the pandemic, including the mobile and connect and collect services, will continue to serve all main towns across the region as the council and Live Borders work towards a plan for full reopening of library facilities in August.

Ewan Jackson, Live Borders chief executive, said: “I know how important it is to ensure that we get as many people as possible to connect safely with the possibilities and opportunities that reading and wider library services can bring.

"I am delighted we are now able to accelerate the reopening of the four libraries.

“Our digital, mobile library and connect and collect services have played an extremely important part over the course of the pandemic in helping people stay connected and I’m delighted that we are now able to welcome members of the public back in person.”

Contact centres and integrated centres will continue to operate via telephone and online, with emergency face-to-face contact accommodated when necessary.