CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
Navigation Close

Re-opening libraries – Summary of current guidance

This is a summary guide for librarians in Scotland around re-opening services, assuming the current progress towards a reduction in restrictions in place to combat COVID-19 continues. Please note this is intended to be guidance only and you should refer to Scottish Government information and your employer or organisation for definitive guidance. The following guidance will include both a summary of guidance as well as links to third party content and neither CILIPS or any other parties listed are able to accept liability for loss or damages arising from the use of this guidance.

In all cases, CILIPS urges services to wait until they can ensure the health and wellbeing of staff and users before attempting a phased or full re-opening and full risk assessments should be undertaken.

We understand some roles will be required on site more than others in the coming months but ask this is planned in as fair a way as possible to ensure staff’s safety and mental wellbeing is protected. We urge services to not re-deploy or furlough staff longer than needed to ensure services can be established again as soon as possible.  Libraries of all kinds are going to be essential as society comes out of lockdown and it is important library workers are available to focus on work related to the delivery of their service.

The Scottish Government has set out a route map for coming out of lockdown and have provided additional guidance on key dates.

It is important that members continue to keep track of updates on the following links as the main sources of national guidance:

https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/

https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/coronavirus-covid-19

https://www.cosla.gov.uk/covid-19-information-for-councils

The below is some additional advice and links that can be used by different sectors:

Public Libraries

  • Public libraries can re-open in phase 3 and this is from 15th July. This should only happen when physical distancing and hygiene measures can be put in place;
  • Gatherings in libraries (e.g events, community groups, adult learning classes) are unlikely to be possible until phase 4;
  • CILIPS are engaging with the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC), the Scottish Government and a working group of the Association of Public Libraries in Scotland (APLS) and we will share any official guidance (such as Public Health information on quaranting book timescales etc) when it is available, this is expected imminently;
  • Members should also refer to advice both from their local authority, library management and trade union (where appropriate) for advice on steps to take for re-opening safely;
  • It is likely that due to staffing and safety issues it may be that a phased return for libraries is needed and a mix of physical and digital offers will be essential, there is unlikely to be a one size fits all model in the coming months;
  • It is recommended that in advance of official guidance that services start considering issues such as staffing, delivery models, increased hand-washing facilities/hand sanitisers and use thereof by both staff and users, regular and enhanced cleaning of surfaces, protocols for what to do if a members of staff has suspected/confirmed COVID-19 and ongoing risk assessments;
  • We recommend that any plans for service recovery or re-opening should be based on an informed and comprehensive risk assessment;

School Libraries

  • Almost all children and young people are expected to return to school full-time from 11th August 2020;
  • A blended learning model may be put in place should it be needed for public health reasons based on latest scientific guidance;
  • The Scottish Government have published a framework for re-opening schools and school librarians should liaise with their school over how they fit into these plans as this is likely to be the main guidance document for all departments;
  • The above framework should be used as guidance for social distancing, hygiene, PPE use and more and where the advice is unclear school librarians should refer to advice from their local authority, school management and trade union (where appropriate) for confirmation on steps to take for re-opening safely;
  • CILIPS are liaising with SLIC and the School Libraries Group Scotland with the aim of providing as detail as possible as it becomes available;
  • School librarians should carry out a COVID-19 Risk Assessment in consultation with school management, here is an example risk assessment that you may wish to adapt and use;
  • Schools and their libraries are likely to be required to maintain a variety of health and hygeine practices and possible social distancing wherever possible;
  • School libraries may be re-purposed to support learning and this may affect some school library spaces. CILIPS believe it essential that schools continue to maintain a school library presence even if it requires a short-term blended approach to ensure they can contribute to all the aims within the National Strategy for School Libraries and provide equity of access and support attainment;
  • School librarians should liaise with their school management to ensure plans are in place for increased hand-washing facilities/hand sanitisers and use thereof, regular and enhanced cleaning of surfaces, protocols for what to do if a child/members of staff has suspected/confirmed COVID-19 and ongoing risk assessments;
  • Guidance from the COVID-19 Guidance Cell of Public Health England’s National Infection Service, as advised to CILIP UK gives some guidance on quarantine timings. There is currently no official guidance on issuing/returning books or on timescales for quarantining books in Scottish libraries but this is expected to be provided shortly and any policy should be set in liaison with the school management – we would advise not starting to issue or return books until a clear policy has been agreed with your school;
  • Our colleagues at SLIC have created the following set of education resources for school libraries and librarians to use that link to the National Strategy – https://scottishlibraries.org/staff-development/digital-resources-for-libraries/children-young-people/educational-resources/
  • CILIP have produced a range of advice for school libraries and whilst some of this is in relation to England we would recommend using the guidance on cleaning, social distancing and processing materials providing they concur with your own school’s guidance – https://www.cilip.org.uk/news/506793/COVID-19-Guidance-for-School-Libraries.htm

Higher and Further Education Libraries 

  • Universities and colleges will have a phased return in phase 3 with blended model of remote learning and limited on campus learning where public health measures (including physical distancing) can be put in place;
  • It is likely to be a varied picture with some universities and colleges having a mostly online model while other will be mixed – members should check with their institution;
  • It is recommended that in advance of official guidance that services start considering issues such as the use of PPE where appropriate for staff, and a range of other hygiene measures such as:  Increased hand-washing facilities/hand sanitisers and use thereof, regular and enhanced cleaning of surfaces, protocols for what to do if a members of staff has suspected/confirmed COVID-19 and ongoing risk assessments;
  • We recommend that any plans for service recovery or re-opening should be based on an informed and comprehensive Risk Assessment.

Other institutions

  • It is more challenging to provide advice for other organisations as it will depend on Government advice and service needs;
  • Government advice is that non-essential indoor office workplaces can open also in phase 3, once relevant guidance agreed;
  • We recommend that any plans for service recovery or re-opening should be based on an informed and comprehensive Risk Assessment.

Our colleagues at CILIP have also produced some advice on planning for service recovery.  For school librarians there is a detailed guide also provided by CILIP, the School Libraries Group and the School Library Association here.

There are some useful webinars from the American Library Association on a variety of sectors available here.

Skip to content