As part of the phased reopening of library buildings later this month, a new ‘personal shopper’ service is being introduced.
Somerset County Council will launch the service in Taunton Library on 6 July. Subject to a review, it will then be introduced in Bridgwater, Frome, Minehead and Yeovil on 13 July. It is hoped all remaining libraries will be able to open again during August.
The personal shopper service enables customers to request library books either by email, website or telephone, using a new borrower request form. By providing staff with a few key details about what you are looking for, a hand-picked selection of books, audiobooks, and DVDs will be available for collection at a convenient time for you. No hire charges or fines will be applied in the interim.
When libraries open, internet access will be available in some, but it will be primarily for users who don’t have home internet access and require essential services.
Computers will need to be pre-booked and will be available for up to an hour. Each computer and workstation will be thoroughly cleaned between bookings and there will be at least a 2m distance between desks. Staff will be able to provide limited support for customers due to social distancing rules.
Councillor David Hall, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for Libraries, said: “We are delighted to begin the phased re-opening of our libraries, in line with Government and Public Health guidelines.
“Staff have been busy ensuring that we minimise risk for staff and customers. We are also continuing to develop our digital offer, with further investment in e-resources including books, audiobooks, magazines and newspapers, all available to download free of charge to library members.
“There are also over 150 videos for people to enjoy via the Somerset Libraries Facebook and website, including story-times, gardening and cooking tips and some engaging health and wellbeing videos.”
Customers can return any items currently on loan to Taunton library from 6 July and to other libraries when they open, but customers are being encouraged not to make unnecessary journeys to do this.
All current loans that would have been due back during the lockdown period have been extended to the end of August, and any overdue charges that customers might have incurred as a result of library closures due to COVID-19 have been waived.
The Somerset Mobile Library Service should also be back later in the year and the Home Library Service, delivered in partnership with the Royal Voluntary Service, has started to deliver books to people unable to leave their homes.
The borrowing request form will be available via the Somerset Libraries website (www.somersetlibraries.co.uk) or by contacting 0300 123 2224.
Full details of re-opening libraries, including hours of opening and services available, can be found on the Somerset Libraries website and via their social media pages – search for Somerset Libraries UK on Facebook, @SomersetLib on Twitter and Somerset Libraries on Instagram.