Column by leader of South Gloucestershire Council, Toby Savage.

One of life’s simple pleasures is leisurely browsing for books in a library. I’m happy to report that our libraries are now fully open again and customers, including keen browsers, are welcome to drop in.

However, the number of Covid-19 cases in South Gloucestershire has slightly increased recently, along with a rise nationally. If we want libraries and other services to continue to be open, we must all do the right thing - follow government guidance on social distancing and wearing face coverings and practise good hand hygiene.

We’ve carefully planned for full re-opening at our libraries. We’ve taken into account the safety of both the public and our staff. Safety checks have taken place at all of our buildings in line with Government guidance. You’ll notice some changes.

All customers are required to wear face coverings. Opening times are shorter than normal hours with all libraries closing at 4pm. The number of people using a library at one time is limited and IT users are encouraged to book in advance to ensure a PC is free at the time they want to visit.

Filton Library will not be open because essential building work is being carried out but Patchway Library will be open on Mondays, as well as its normal open days.

Throughout the lockdown period, our libraries continued to support people by not only delivering books, but also extending our eBook and eAudio collections, even adding daily newspapers to our online services so people didn’t need to leave home as often.

Since July, our libraries have provided a click and collect service which has received some fantastic feedback. This service will continue to operate for people who prefer not to choose their own books but have them selected by the staff.

Libraries are important mainstays for our communities as are our One Stop Shops. It’s wonderful to have both libraries and One Stop Shops fully open again but it’s really important that we all continue to keep ourselves and others safe.

For further information about our libraries visit call 01454 868006, for One Stop Shops visit call 01454 868009.