Edinburgh libraries and community centres will not properly reopen to the public for at least another four weeks
Community centres and libraries in the Capital will not reopen to the public for at least another four weeks.
Plans detailing specific dates for the reopening of Edinburgh City Council’s 30 community centres and 28 libraries will be published in early September.
Once dates have been confirmed, libraries will reopen in three phases.
In phase one staff will return to branches to prepare for re-opening.
Then, in phase two, libraries will reopen to the public for returns, hearing aid batteries, free sanitary provision, internet access, limited lending and borrowing and bus pass application processing.
Finally, in phase three group activities and clubs for adults and children will restart.
A ‘Libraries Adaptation and Renewal Group’ has been meeting weekly to form plans around operations, venue readiness, workforce planning and development, communications and digital services.
Since they were first closed down in March, libraries have continued to provide home delivery services for vulnerable people, including former patients from the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Library Link customers and families receiving food parcels.
The council’s online library service has experienced a 64 per cent increase in use of e-books, 67 per cent increase in use of e-audio books and a 118 per cent increase in use of e-newspapers and e-magazines.
As for community centres, individual management committees are now able to reopen centres for defined reasons including early learning and childcare, out of school care, blood donor services and food banks.
However, for all other purposes centres will remain closed.
Conservative Group Chair, Cllr Jason Rust, said: “I welcome the council administration taking on board our call for a report specifically on the re-opening of libraries in Edinburgh setting out clearer timescales for opening.
“It is clear that other local authorities have been forging ahead in line with the Scottish Government route map and information and advice has been provided nationally to help public libraries re-open safely.
“There is the potential for a range of options from phased re-opening of lending and reference branches to click and collect, home library or other innovative services to be introduced.
“Libraries play a significant role for Edinburgh residents from education and learning to access to technology and provision of other services such as bus pass renewal. The council needs to step up a gear.”
Council Leader Adam McVey said: “We want to see our community centres and libraries up and running again and I know people understand we have to make sure buildings are safe to do so.
“We’ve approved a process that will support management committees to gain access to centres to help access resources and provide essential services as well as reestablishing community-based youth work outdoors in the days and weeks ahead.
“We know how important our services and spaces are to our local communities and, subject to the latest Scottish Government and health advice, we hope to open some of these buildings from next month.
“I realise many want to see these reopen as quickly as possible and can assure everyone that our top priority In our plans is the health of our citizens and staff.
“It’s been great to see our library digital service going from strength to strength during the pandemic with an ever-increasing number of downloads. We hope this expansion of our digital services helps more people in our communities continue to access these services going forward.
“We appreciate everyone’s support and patience as we gradually restart services and look forward to welcoming people back into their local spaces.”