The London Library is to reopen its doors to members on 6 July, following over three months of closure under lockdown.

The move follows the Prime Minister’s confirmation that libraries will be included among the cultural institutions able to open from early July as part of the relaxation of lockdown restrictions.

From 10.00am on Monday 6th July the Library will be open six days a weeks and nearly two thirds of its desks will be available for use, enabling members to access one of the most atmospheric working spaces in London. 

Under the reopening plans, special arrangements have been put in place to ensure that staff and members can work safely in the Library’s vast building which contains over 1 million books - almost all of which are available for borrowing. Book quarantining measures will enable members to borrow books and browse the Library’s 17 miles of open access shelves; specially constructed lanes and entrance arrangements will support physical distancing as members enter and leave the building; a pre-booking system will be in place so that numbers in the building can be maintained at appropriate levels.

The reopening of the building comes after an unprecedented effort in which the Library has run an extensive postal loans service, enabling members to borrow books by ordering them online and having them shipped free of charge. With over 500 books being mailed out each week, thousands of books have been lent out during the lockdown period, providing a lifeline to readers and researchers. In addition, members have had full access to the Library’s extensive online resources which provide online facilities equivalent to those of many of the best academic libraries.

London Library Director Philip Marshall commented, “Books are so important at this time and we've been delighted throughout lockdown to continue providing extensive access to the collection via postal loans. We can now open the Library building itself and it’s wonderful to be able to invite members back into London’s great working spaces.”

Reopening arrangements:

  • From 6 July the Library will open at 10am Monday to Friday and 9.30am on Saturdays. Normal closing times will apply
  • Over 60% of the Library’s desks will be in operation, providing socially distanced working space for 84 members at a time.
  • Members will need to pre-book a day pass to work in the Library or browse the collection, and will also need to book a time-slot if they are looking to collect and return books.
  • All the Library’s book shelves containing its 1m strong borrowing collection will be available for browsing. 
  • Once books are handled, they are quarantined for three days. Enhanced sanitisation and cleaning routines will be in operation across the Library.
  • Perspex screens and lanes have been installed in entrance and reception areas to enable social distancing and prevent queues.
  • A one way in/out system will be in place with members asked to enter via St James’s Square and leave via Mason’s Yard. Mason’s Yard will no longer be an entrance route.
  • Some facilities will not be available, including lockers and storage facilities, reprographic services and kitchen facilities for members.

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