London Public Library branches prepare to open for in-person services

Starting next week, four London Public Library (LPL) branches will open to provide in-person access to limited services for the first time since closing in mid-March in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The LPL says more branches will open “in coming weeks.”

While branches have been offering a pick-up service since early June, patrons have not been able to access the physical locations to use services like library computers, printers, or WiFi.

Read more: With branches closed due to COVID-19, London’s library pivots to no-touch, pick-up service

The LPL says all of its branches will have “new expanded hours of service on Fridays and starting the week of Aug. 10.”

“Library staff have worked extremely hard at adapting library services throughout the pandemic,” said CEO Michael Ciccone.

“We know that Londoners need library services and resources more than ever. We will continue to innovate and improve so that we meet the existing needs of our community as well as their future needs as we enter this period of recovery and reinvention.”

The Beacock and Sherwood branches will open Aug. 10 while the Byron and Crouch branches will open Aug. 11. Pick-up services will remain available at branch locations until they, too, reopen.

There are no current plans to reopen the Carson, Lambeth, or Landon branches “due to distancing restrictions” as the three are the LPL’s smallest locations. The Lambeth branch, which has been completely closed, will launch a pick-up service on Aug. 18.

Branches that reopen will allow patrons to pick up holds, find and brrow items, use a public computer and printer for up to 45 minutes per day, use WiFi for up to 45 minutes per day, and access Library Settlement Services (which can help newcomers to London find information and assistance) by appointment where available.

Read more: Beyond books: Why library funding cuts impact more than just readers

The LPL says branches are implementing extra health and safety measures as they reopen, including limiting the number of people allowed inside.

Quick visits are encouraged, masks are mandatory, staff and visitors need to keep two metres apart, hand sanitizer will be made available, patrons will have to check their items out themselves and returns are to be placed in the outdoor return chutes (they will be quarantined for three days before being shelved).

However, numerous services will not be offered, including: washrooms; photocopying; children’s toys, games, technology and play areas; study and meeting spaces; magazines and newspapers to read or borrow; in-person library programming; room rentals; or book donations.

Friends of the Library is accepting book donations and can be reached at 519-661-2448.

Additionally, the library says borrowing periods have been extended, items will be automatically renewed up to three times unless there is a hold, and overdue fines from items borrowed between March 16 and Dec. 31, 2020 will not be charged, though replacement fees will still apply.

The library’s digital collection remains available. More information on the LPL’s reopening can be found on its website.

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