Croydon Council this morning released details of its phased re-opening of some of the borough’s public libraries – but with no immediate plans for three of the buildings which it has listed for permanent closure in its recent consultation.
Broad Green Library, one of five of the borough’s 13 public libraries under threat of closure in the cash-strapped council’s controversial asset-stripping plans, remains closed while it is being used as a covid-19 lateral flow testing centre “until summer 2021”.
But in its announcement this morning, the council makes no mention at all of the libraries in Shirley and Sanderstead, two of the other libraries earmarked for closure, as campaigners’ fears and suspicions grow that the facilities may never open again.
“It is hoped the re-opening of other libraries will be phased in over the summer,” was the most offered in the council announcement about the fate of the unmentioned libraries.
The council’s plans will see some libraries open from next Monday, April 12, for a limited “select and collect” service, in line with the government’s public health guidance on the easing of coronavirus lockdown. Books will only be released to library users once they have been quarantined for 72 hours.
From April 26, “a number of libraries will be offering time-limited visits for browsing and pre-booked computer use”. For every hour booked to use the public computers, visitors will be limited to 45 minutes – the other 15 minutes of the booking being used to clean down the area before the next visitor.
The council said today, “The services are returning in phases because some frontline library staff are still being deployed to covid-19 services and Broad Green Library is a lateral flow testing centre until summer 2021.”
Under the select and collect service library users will be able to collect the books that they may have ordered before the latest lockdown, and online book reservations will again become available, by email or over the phone.
The council said, “Staff will then contact you with a suitable collection date and time from one of the following 10 libraries:
- Bradmore Green
- New Addington
- South Norwood
- Thornton Heath
The council says, “Your chosen books will be provided in a bag having been quarantined for 72 hours. If you are returning items, during a select and collect appointment, you will be asked to leave them at a returns point and not hand them to staff. They will be quarantined before being available for selection.”
The six libraries open for visits for browsing and pre-booked computer use from April 26 are
- New Addington
- Thornton Heath
South Norwood, Bradmore Green in Old Coulsdon and Broad Green, all missing from this second phased opening list, are also on the council’s list for possible permanent closure.
The council’s libraries consultation ended on March 14. To date, the Labour-controlled council has given no indication of when its findings will be published or discussed.
Read more: South Norwood library needs £900,000 more to be fit to open
Read more: Council’s libraries consultation accused of being unlawful
Read more: Libraries are our long-term investment. Don’t squander it
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