CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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Re-opening libraries – Summary of current guidance for Service Recovery

This is a summary guide for librarians in Scotland around re-opening services. 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 sites 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 when needed.  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.

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 should only happen when physical distancing and hygiene measures can be put in place and national restrictions allow;
  • Currently public libraries are restricted under the current lockdown but can offer IT services;
  • Public libraries can open from 26th April;
  • Click and collect services for libraries are listed with other ‘permitted collection services’; this list includes shops such as clothing shops and book stores and so the same rules will apply to libraries as apply to these shops. Collection services must be provided by staggered appointments and, where reasonably practicable, this must be with a gap between each appointment. Access to the premises must only be given to the extent necessary to provide the service. In practice, the above means that when making their collection, the customer must be outside, and appointments staggered to avoid queueing.
  • The Scottish Government have published the following guidance and this includes a checklist;
  • Face coverings are mandatory in public libraries and visors are not suitable on their own;
  • 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;
  • We recommend that any plans for service recovery or re-opening should be based on an informed and comprehensive risk assessment;
  • Public Health Scotland have advised public library books should be quarantined for 72 hours upon return to the library. The amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surface is likely to have decreased significantly after this time. However, organisations may wish to use longer timescales if they deem it necessary.

School Libraries

  • The Scottish Government have published guidance for schools and school librarians should liaise with their school over how they fit into these plans;
  • 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;
  • Public Health Scotland have advised public library books should be quarantined for 72 hours upon return to the library. The amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surface is likely to have decreased significantly after this time. However, organisations may wish to use longer timescales if they deem it necessary;
  • 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;
  • Face coverings should now (unless exemptions apply) be worn in secondary schools, by adults and all pupils moving around the school, such as in corridors and communal areas where physical distancing is difficult to maintain. School librarians should liaise with school management for a decision on whether this includes the library;

Higher and Further Education Libraries 

  • It is expected that most of Scotland will move to Level 3 on 26th April, meaning academic libraries can start delivering most services with steps taken to ensure safety;
  • Guidance for Universities and Colleges are here;
  • Public Health Scotland have advised public library books should be quarantined for 72 hours upon return to the library. The amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surface is likely to have decreased significantly after this time. Workers in other sectors should liaise with their organisation management over specific timescales but may wish to use this timescale to help inform decisions;
  • 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;
  • 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.

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

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