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Royal Borough offering library service while buildings remain closed

The council is reviewing how it will expand its library service as lockdown eases.

The Government announced libraries could re-open from Saturday, July 4, but the Royal Borough’s library buildings remain closed, albeit with some library services operating.

Deputy leader of the council, Cllr Samantha Rayner (Con, Eton and Castle), insisted the borough is committed to its library services, despite it being ‘under huge financial pressure’.

Speaking on Monday, the lead member for resident services said: “We’re taking baby steps to opening up the libraries.

“Obviously it’s something we’ve got to consider very carefully [because of coronavirus], but also there is a financial pressure on the council.”

She added: “I am totally committed to library services and I know that they are such an important part of our community and the way we live our lives.”

During lockdown residents have still been able to access the libraries’ extensive digital offer and there is now a select and collect service operating out of Maidenhead library.

The council has also reopened its mobile library and home delivery service for customers who are already registered.

It's select and deliver service will allow residents to select the books they want to be delivered to approximately 18 locations across the borough.

“I can’t say there will never be any changes, because it’s impossible to say,” said Cllr Rayner, “but we are looking to open libraries up again.”

In a statement released through the council, Cllr Rayner said: “Our decisions were based on prioritising customer needs and allowing us to reach our most vulnerable customers who may not be able to access our online services.

“We have prioritised these options first and they have proved popular.

“We need to review how the new offering is working, particularly social distancing, and how it can be effectively applied to our other locations.

“Any permanent changes to our library service would have to be considered through a public consultation.”

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