The City of Wolverhampton Council is planning a phased reopening of the city’s library service.
Although the city’s 16 libraries closed their doors to customers at the start of the coronavirus lockdown in March, members have been able to enjoy a host of digital services since then – and physical books and other items were made available once more last month.
Councillor Stephen Simkins, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: "Cases of Covid-19 in Wolverhampton have jumped in recent days and we cannot afford to let our guard down in our fight against the virus.
"That's why we are taking a careful and cautious approach to the reopening of all our services, including the city's libraries. The safety of staff and customers is our top priority, and it should be remembered that a good proportion of library members are older people and at greater risk if they were to contract Covid-19.
"We have been working hard to recommence library services. We launched the We Select, You Collect service at Central Library on 3 August, enabling members to pre-order books and other items online or over the phone and then collect them at a pre-arranged time.
"This was rolled out to Warstones, Wednesfield and Bilston libraries two weeks later and is proving very popular with customers. Over 700 bags of books have been collected so far, and members can request items via the online library catalogue at www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/libraries, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling us on 01902 552025.
“Also on 3 August we were able to restart our Home Library Service for vulnerable housebound residents. The service is available to customers of any age who, because of illness, disability or frailty, are unable to visit their local library, and to carers who have difficulty accessing the library service due to their caring responsibilities. It has delivered around 1,500 items and welcomed a dozen new customers in the last month.
"In addition, library members continue to be able to access a wide range of bestselling eBooks and eAudiobooks for free via the BorrowBox library on their phone, tablet or computer. Since lockdown began, nearly 13,600 eBooks and eAudiobooks have been downloaded through this popular service.
"Our considered approach to reopening our libraries is consistent with many other areas and will continue to be informed by professional and government guidelines and Covid-19 infection rates locally.
“We hope to be able to increase the range of services available in the coming months, including reintroducing limited browsing and PC access in due course, and we thank customers for continuing to support our libraries at this time.”
Library members are advised that all books and other items currently out on loan have been automatically renewed until 30 September, so no fines will accrue before that time. Items can also be dropped off at dedicated collection points at Central Library, Warstones Library, Wednesfield Library and Bilston Library or renewed online or over the phone.
It's free to join Wolverhampton's libraries. For more information, please visit www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/libraries.