Plans are in place for Kent’s Libraries, Registration and Archives services to return to normal service following the government’s decision to ease Covid restrictions across the country from yesterday (19 July).
KCC says it will be taking a “phased approach” to changes, beginning with 18 libraries reopening from the week beginning 26 July.
The plan is for almost all KCC’s 99 libraries to be reopened by the end of the week beginning 9 August, the only exception being Marden which, due to building improvement works, will reopen on Monday 16 August.
Currently 43 libraries are open with appropriate Covid-safety measures in place and details can be found here: www.kent.gov.uk/libs
The specific re-opening days of the other 56 libraries will be advertised locally and the opening times will all be available there and on the website.
Libraries will continue to have hand sanitizer in place for customers to use, with screens on the desks and the means for customers to log their visit for “track and trace”.
In the short term, there will be a reduced number of public computers in operation while we all move into step 4. In line with KCC’s approach to face coverings, customer and staff will be expected and recommended to continue to wear face coverings and there will be signage to that effect.
In addition to our library re-openings, key changes to other services will be as follows:
Mobile libraries: customers are now able to go on the new mobile vehicles and browse with an end to our Select and Collect service which we brought in due to Covid. All KCC’s mobile libraries vehicles have been replaced over the last few months and staff are looking forward to welcoming customers on board for the first time.
Numbers at ceremonies: with the legal limit lifted, numbers have returned to pre-Covid levels for existing bookings from 19 July.
Archive search room at the Kent History and Library Centre: phased increase in number of slots available in the archive search room.
Events and activities across the library and archive service: events and activities will return but staff will first be focussing on all the above and planning for this will follow getting all the libraries reopened.
Mike Hill, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, said: “This is a significant level of service recovery to complete. We are not proposing to do everything all at once and looking at a continued phased approach, accepting that everyone needs time to adapt to changes.
“We will proceed carefully in the continuing interests of customer and staff safety.”
The reopening schedule is as follows:
Week beginning 26 July
Aylesham, Hawkhurst, Lyminge, Meopham, Paddock Wood, Pembury, Riverview Park (Gravesend), Royal Victoria Place, Rusthall, Shepway, Sherwood (Tunbidge Wells) , Staplehurst, Sturry, Summerhouse Drive (Bexley), Temple Hill (Dartford), Teynham, Westgate, Wye
Week beginning 2 August
Ashen Drive (Dartford), Bearsted, Charing, East Peckham, Hartley, Headcorn, Kemsing, Kings Farm (Gravesend), Lydd, Madginford, Marling Cross (Gravesend), Minster-in-Thanet, Otford, Queenborough, Riverhead, Seal, St Margaret’s-at-Cliffe, Swalecliffe, Swan Valley (Swanscombe), Westerham, West Kingsdown
Week beginning 9 August
Ash, Bockhanger, Boughton-under-Blean, Dashwood (Gravesend), Hadlow, Hildenborough, Hive House (Northfleet), Longfield, Newington, Stanhope (Ashford), Sutton-at-Hone, Tonbridge North, Vigo, West Malling, Wood Avenue (Folkestone), Yalding
Marden (delayed opening due to building improvement works)