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Cllr Adel Khaireh at the Woolwich Centre library

Published: Monday, 6th July 2020

After months of lockdown, six of the larger libraries in the Royal Borough of Greenwich have reopened today, providing residents with access to a whole range of books as well as computer access.

Residents can now visit libraries in Woolwich, Eltham, Blackheath, New Eltham, West Greenwich and the Greenwich Centre, but they will operate a little differently to ensure the safety of staff and customers.  

Initially, these libraries will be open from 10am to 2pm on their usual opening days and some of the furniture has been removed to enable social distancing. Shorter sessions of 30 minutes will be available on the computers, giving more people an opportunity to access them.  

Vaulable community resources

Cllr Adel Khaireh, Cabinet Member for Culture, Communities and Equalities, said: “Libraries are valuable and vital resources for our communities and I am delighted to see them starting to open up again – especially while we’re still encouraging residents to take part in the summer reading challenge. 

“Of course, we can’t operate the libraries in the same way we did previously, and we’re not sure how long it will be until everything is back to normal, so in the meantime, please do bear with us as we all get used to a new way of working. There will be a maximum number of people allowed in the libraries at any one time, and you may be required to queue if we’re at capacity when you arrive. You'll also need to make sure you continue to social distance at all times while in the libraries. We want to give everyone the opportunity to make use of our libraries again, but need to do so in a safe and considered way.  

“It’s been hard for lots of people at home during lockdown I’d like to thank the Better library team for stepping up and continuing to provide an online alternative while we’ve not been able to open the physical libraries. There are still many resources and activities you can try online for free if you can’t get to one of the libraries opening from today. 

“And don’t forget, our community libraries in Abbey Wood and Plumstead are also still operating for residents in these areas.”

In all of the libraries, a strict cleaning regime will be in place and returned library books will be quarantined for 72 hours before they’re put back on the shelves. 

The smaller libraries in Royal Greenwich are more difficult to socially distance in, so these are likely to open in early August. 

Keeping library customers entertained at home 

Diana Edmonds, MBE, National Libraries Director at Better said: “We’ve been working behind the scenes readying our Greenwich Libraries for the welcome return of customers from 6 July.

“We’ve maintained our online offer during lockdown and this has been popular with library users stuck at home.

”But there’s no denying the social benefits of a library visit and as a social enterprise Better are keen to get back to serving our lovely library users, helping them find what they want and ensuring they get the most out of their visit.”

While the libraries were physically shut, Better, the social enterprise that operates the libraries on behalf of the Council, continued to provide much of its services online, including sessions such as Baby Rhyme Time which will continue online.  

Greenwich Library online customers can continue to access a large range of free resources online including, audio books, E-books and E-magazines – spanning everything from popular fiction for adults, children and teens alike to non-fiction including cookery, gardening and technology publications. Also on offer are free music downloads and streams from a choice of over 15 million songs and playlists ranging from opera and classical music to jazz, rock and pop.

The Home Library Service is also still available for those eligible.

Read up to date information on library opening times

Online library resources.