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Libraries are starting to reopen in Dorset. Since 8 July residents have been able to use an order and collect service at 22 of Dorset Council’s 23 libraries, but from Monday 27 July, nine Dorset Council libraries will reopen.

This provides local people with the chance to browse the library shelves and use the public computers. The computers will be available for a 45-minute session but need to be pre-booked by calling the library.

Dorchester, Ferndown and Weymouth libraries will be open from 9.30am to 1pm, Monday to Saturday.

Blandford, Gillingham, Sherborne, Wareham and Wimborne libraries will be open from 9.30am to 1pm, Monday to Saturday, excluding Wednesday.

Bridport library will be open from 9.30am to 1pm, Monday to Saturday, excluding Thursday.

Opening times are being limited to ensure that staff can work safely in the afternoons to pick and pack bags for the order and collect service – an alternative service for those who are uncomfortable or unable to spend time in the library. The online library services will continue to offer an exciting programme of activities.

Councillor Tony Alford, Portfolio Holder for Customer, Community and Regulatory Services, said: ‘We’re pleased to now be able to reopen a number of our libraries, with safety measures in place to help protect our staff and residents.

‘These nine libraries are in our more densely populated towns and will offer a good geographical spread across our council area. Along with our order and collect service, which will continue to run, we are confident that all our residents can continue to access this valuable community facility.

‘Library services will look and feel quite different with signage to help users follow social distancing guidelines and some services will still be unavailable. Please help us keep our staff and residents safe by respecting the measures we have put in place.

‘We will continue to work towards reopening more of our buildings and will be assessing what services can be reintroduced as government guidance evolves.’

Much like supermarkets and other shops, there will be a limit on the number of visitors allowed in the building at the same time, and a browsing time of 15 minutes is being suggested to ensure as many people as possible can use these libraries.

People will also be asked to sanitise their hands as they enter the library.

As well as browsing and borrowing library items, users will also be able to drop return items to these libraries, with returned items being quarantined for 72 hours before being put back on the shelf.

For the safety of all our users, there will be no access to toilet facilities and seating areas have been removed. Printing and photocopying, study spaces, print copy of newspapers and magazines, information or reference enquiry service and the reservation service are all currently unavailable.

To keep up to date with changes to the library services follow @DorsetLibraries on Twitter or Facebook.

More information is available online at dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/libraries

The Dorset libraries service has made a video to help residents know what to expect as libraries reopen: https://youtu.be/il-vCaIP-qI

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