The Leeds Library Response to the Lockdown – 3/11/20

In light of the announcement at the weekend regarding a nationwide lockdown, the Library will be closed to our Members from Thursday 5th November.  It is proposed that to provide support for Members during the lockdown, any Member visiting the Library tomorrow (Wednesday 4th)  will be allowed to borrow an unlimited amount of items from our collection to read, listen to or watch.  We will be open from 10am to 4pm as usual.  So that Members are not worrying about the return of items, we will also extend all current loans until January.

Whilst the initial four-week lockdown is in place, the Library team will commit time and resource to further developing our eBook Lending Library,  postal loans service and to develop further our delivery and collection service, so that Members are able to have access to a broad range of reading items during the lockdown period.  We hope that as many Members as possible make use of these services. In addition, should a Member be in Leeds city centre during the lockdown period, there will be a click and collect service set up so that they can collect or drop off items at the Library.  It is anticipated that this click and collect service will be provided from Monday to Friday each week between 10am and 2pm each day.   For all these services Members will be required to send in their request for items by email, phone or letter. Due to Government lockdown regulations, we will not be allowed to respond to requests for books made in person.

The Government legislation on the lockdown regulations stipulating what the Library is and is not allowed to do during the lockdown has only been released this evening prior to being debated in Parliament tomorrow. In light of this, it will take the staff team a couple of days to make the necessary arrangements to have these services fully ready to go for our Members, so it is anticipated that they will be available for Members to use from Monday 10th November.

Next week, we will circulate details of an online events programme that Members will be able to engage with whilst in lockdown and we will also be looking at new services that we can introduce for Members whilst the lockdown is in place. The details of these events will be circulated on the online community hub Forum which was set up at the beginning of the previous lockdown and in communications sent out by email, post and social media next week.

Whilst the lockdown is not an ideal situation for any of us, we will be working to try and schedule a couple of urgent pieces of building work in the Library so that they take place while the Library is closed  in order to avoid disruption, these being the installation of a new fire alarm system and the plastering and decoration of a couple of ceilings.  Both of these pieces of work have been supported by recent Heritage Fund grants.

At this time, it is not intended to furlough any of the staff team as we are focused on a plan of work over the coming four weeks that will enable us to keep in contact with our membership, as well as develop and implement pieces of work that will bring benefits to Members when we are able to reopen the Library.  Whilst many of the staff will be working from home, we will ensure a daily presence in the Library so we will be able to answer phone calls and respond quickly to email enquiries.

In recognising that a key component of the membership of the Leeds Library has always been to have access to our wonderful building and that, for the second time this year, access to the Library by Members will not be possible, we are offering the opportunity for Members to request a free one month extension to their membership.  When a similar offer was made earlier in the year, it was really appreciated that the majority of Members chose to decline the offer, as they wanted to show support for the Library, and despite our successes in securing Heritage Fund grants, resources are tight.  However, we do want to offer the additional extension to Members as we recognise the impact on access to the Library the lockdown will have.   Further details on how to claim the membership extension will be circulated to all Members next week.  The Trustees and staff team will review the extension of the Library membership should the current lockdown period be extended beyond four weeks.

Finally, on behalf of the staff team and Trustees, we wanted to say thank you to all of our Members for your continued support during arguably the most turbulent 12 months in the history of the Library.   At a time when everyone has had to make adjustments and sacrifices and faced challenges, it has meant a lot to everyone in the Library that Members have taken the time to pass on their support and good wishes and be engaged with the work we have undertaken to develop our services  in response to the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis.

We hope that we will open our doors to Members again at the start of December, but we are realistic enough to know that this may not be possible.  We will, however, do everything we can to ensure the lockdown period is made easier for our Members to endure and that when we do reopen the Library is the best version of the Library it can be over the coming weeks, months and years.

We are sorry for the inconvenience that closing the Library will bring, but as we have always stated, the Library will respect and follow any Government instruction as part of a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

We hope that you, your families and friends stay safe over the coming weeks.

With best wishes

Carl Hutton (CEO) & Martin Staniforth (Chair of Trustees)
On behalf of the staff team and Trustees of The Leeds Library

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