Friday 07th August 2020,
North Edinburgh Community News

Community centres and libraries will not reopen until September

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 purposes including early learning and childcare, out of school care, blood donor services and food banks.

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.”

Edinburgh City Council has been approached for comment.

Noa Hoffman is the Local Democracy Reporter covering Edinburgh. The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) is a public service news agency : funded by the BBC, provided by the local news sector, and used by qualifying partners. Local Democracy Reporters cover top-tier local authorities and other public service organisations.

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