KCC says it is working to a full service restoration of its Libraries, Registration and Archives service across the county over the next few months.
However, the rate of progress will depend on a number of factors, including government guidelines on Covid restrictions, ensuring those libraries that have remained closed for many months are ready for use again and the availability of staff.
The council’s “roadmap” to full recovery of the LRA service was outlined briefly yesterday by Mike Hill, the Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services.
He told the Growth, Economic Development and Communities Cabinet Committee that the service was proposing a phased recovery programme, beginning with the immediate return to face-to-face birth registration appointments together with essential library computer use also returning from 15th March.
April sees the libraries currently open, being fully open for browsing and study space. Initially this will be 35 libraries but KCC will work to reach 43 while social distancing is still in place. April also sees the return of the Archive search room for bookable appointments.
Weddings and other ceremonies can recommence from 29th March with the numbers who can attend only increasing in line with the government’s roadmap.
- KCC hopes to return to a full service over the course of the summer. But this is dependent on the progress of the government’s roadmap and the ending of all restrictions. Once all restrictions are lifted we will see a return of our events and activities. Alongside our physical services LRA will continue to develop its virtual library and Archive services which have been the backbone of the service during the restrictions.
- KCC will continue to prioritise customer and staff safety. The virus is still in circulation and there are a number of key dependencies that must be kept in mind:
- KCC will work with whatever the Government roadmap allows.
- National government advice and dates may change, and while social distancing will remain, more staff will be needed in our libraries to manage numbers and facilitate the service.
- Corporate Infrastructure’s capacity and timeline to reopen the buildings must be taken into account.
- LRA has held vacancies across this financial year and will need to recruit staff to deliver this plan.
This plan represents an optimistic, positive recovery back to the delivery of a comprehensive service.
Initial libraries reopening
|Deal||Cranbrook||Fleetdown||Total Libraries open = 35|
Both Folkestone and Larkfield are currently asymptomatic testing centres so our ability to reopen these libraries will depend on the wider plans for the continuation of this programme which is a key part of the county response to the pandemic. We will look to reopen both sites as soon as possible but just to highlight that these two dates are subject to change.
Additional 8 libraries aiming to open by end of April
|Lenham (Maidstone but close to Ashford)|
|Minster on Sea (Swale)|
|New Ash Green (Sevenoaks)|
|New Romney (Folkestone & Hythe)|
|Snodland (Tonbridge) – Subject to completion of front façade building works which are due for completion in April|