Covid measures from 19 July at The London Library

Following the Government announcement that from 19 July most of the COVID-19 legal requirements in force in England will be lifted, we have reviewed the arrangements we have in place at the Library and will be making some changes.

However, in response to feedback from staff and members, we will be keeping a number of measures in place for the time being. Our priority is to enable members and staff to use the building and collection safely and we want to ensure that our shared spaces provide a reassuring environment for everyone wishing to use them. A particular concern is that many Library members and members of staff have not yet had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated. So, while we are very pleased to be taking a significant step towards more normal working conditions, it is important that we retain certain measures to secure the safety and wellbeing of our members and our staff. We’ll be keeping all arrangements under review over the next few months and will announce any further changes in due course.

No need to book

From 19 July it will no longer be necessary to book a slot in order to visit the Library. Members will be able to enter and leave the building whenever they choose during normal opening hours and will simply need to present their membership card at the automatic gate in the Issue Hall or at the Mason’s Yard entrance.

The one-way system in the Issue Hall and in and out of the building is no longer in operation.

Continued use of face coverings in most areas

Members will no longer be required to wear masks while they are seated in the main Reading Room or 6th Floor members’ area. In the latter space members will also be able to consume food and drink. We hope that this will enable members to work comfortably in these large, well-ventilated spaces.However, unless exempt, members must continue to wear face coverings throughout the rest of the Library, including when seated at any desk that is not in the main Reading Room or 6th Floor members’ area. Members are therefore also required to keep their face covering on when interacting with members of staff. Updated signage will be in place as a reminder and we shall keep a stock of face coverings at the Issue Desk in case members forget to bring one with them.

Continued social distancing

We shall maintain the current layout of our desks throughout the Library so the distance between usable desks will not be reduced.

We are confident that members will be able to find a study desk that will suit their personal preferences regarding face coverings and allow all users of the Library to feel comfortable about their health and safety.  However, we will continually monitor the use of reading rooms to ensure that we keep the right balance between the spaces allocated to wearers and non-wearers of face coverings.  

While distancing remains in place between desks laptops will be permitted in all areas of the Library.

We will also continue the additional cleaning measures, screens at the Issue Desk, be providing hand sanitiser and wipes where appropriate and keep windows open for ventilation.

Lockers in use from 26 July

We are pleased to confirm that from 26 July lockers will once again be available, enabling members to store their personal belongings during their visit to the Library.

The return of locker space means that we will reintroduce the pre-pandemic restrictions on bringing large bags into the main body of the Library. Members will be asked to leave bags in the lockers, but will be provided with clear, reusable carrier bags if they need to keep small items with them in the Library. Members’ co-operation with the reinstatement of this arrangement – which helps improve access in narrow spaces like the stacks, prevents damage to the collection, and improves book security - is greatly appreciated.

Returning books

With the Issue Hall returning to normal operation, members will again be able to return books to the Issue Desk rather than using specially provided trolleys. We’ve already ended the need for books to be quarantined once they have been used within the Library or been borrowed, and this will increase the speed at which books can return into circulation.

Opening hours

For the time being we will maintain the slightly later 10am opening time that we introduced during the pandemic, to help staff and members – particularly those who have not had an opportunity to be fully vaccinated – to be as comfortable as possible with their travel arrangements into the Library. Opening hours are as follows:

  • 10am-9pm on Mondays to Tuesdays
  • 10am-5.30pm Wednesdays to Fridays
  • 9.30am-5.30pm on Saturdays

Continuation of free postal loans

Our free postal loans service proved to be a lifeline during the pandemic. We intend to retain a free service to members for the immediate future, recognising that many members are still unable or uncomfortable about travelling to the Library to pick up books in person.


Members are welcome to sign in guests once again to give them a brief tour of the Library. Please sign your guest in at Reception and remain together for the duration of your tour. Please also ensure that your guest wears a face covering during the visit.


Members will once again be able to use the photocopiers and there will be additional PCs replaced in the Catalogue Hall at the back of the Issue Hall.

We shall be keeping in place the glass screens at Reception and the Issue Desk, maintaining our enhanced levels of cleaning and continuing to provide hand-sanitiser. All our staff will also be wearing face-coverings throughout the Library.

Temporary Tickets

Temporary tickets will be available again, but where these are sought in order to view material under invigilation please contact us first as we are only able to offer a reduced service to non-members at the current time. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more details and please note that we will need at least 72 hours notice.


We hope these arrangements will allow as many members as possible to feel both safe and comfortable when visiting the Library and we look forward to seeing you back here soon. If you have any feedback on the measures or anything else about the Library please contact the executive at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..