CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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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;
  • The Scottish Government have published the following guidance and this includes a checklist;
  • The guidance covers customer and visitor data gathering for businesses and other establishments, including libraries. The guidance does not apply where services are taken off-site immediately, for example, a library operating a click-and-collect service. If premises offer a mixture of an on-site and collection service, contact information only needs to be collected for customers who remain on-site;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • Public Health Scotland wrote the following in response to the research published at https://www.oclc.org/en/news/releases/2020/20200903-realm-round-4.html:

    “A rapid review of the literature assessing IPC measures within healthcare settings is conducted and the last update was published on 2nd September.  Screening and critical appraisal of the relevant literature is undertaken and includes a review of survival of COVID19 in the environment.

    An important point to note is that whilst SARS-CoV-2 may be detected on material beyond 72 hours it doesn’t mean that it is viable with the ability to cause infection.  There is currently no evidence to support changing guidance at present however the rapid review is updated monthly and should there be any changes based on the literature those will be reflected within it.  The emphasis as always should be on hand hygiene.”

School Libraries

  • The Scottish Government have published guidance 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;
  • 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;
  • Schools and their libraries are likely to be required to maintain a variety of health and hygeine practices and possible social distancing wherever possible;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • 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.

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