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Updates to Library Services

Updates to Library Services

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Although the Library buildings have been closed since late March, we’ve continued to provide access to a wide range of digital resources and services to support teaching, learning and research, all of which have been very well used.

We know that access to the physical buildings and resources is important to you and are keen to open our doors again, as soon as it is safe to do so. Bringing buildings back from total shutdown and adapting them to comply with physical distancing and enhanced hygiene standards will take some time, so please bear with us while we work with our colleagues in Estates to get this right. Our number one priority is to provide a safe and secure environment for Library users and staff.

Reopening Library buildings will be a gradual, phased programme, informed by the University’s plans for reopening the Campus and the Government's COVID-19 recovery strategy. Libraries are listed in step 3 of the official roadmap, which means we are legally required to remain closed until at least 4th July. Like all live plans, our programme is subject to change depending upon on the prevailing situation regarding COVID-19 and any changes in official guidance.

We will provide further details about what is happening and when as soon as they can be confirmed.

When will the Library buildings be reopening?

We hope to reopen the Philip Robinson Library by mid-July to provide a limited range of "zero contact" services. Some of the necessary building safety checks have taken a little longer than anticipated to complete and we will confirm the date of the reopening of the building and launch of the Click & Collect service as soon as we can. Entrance to and exit from the Library will be strictly managed to ensure that physical distancing is maintained.

What services will be available?

Phase 1 of our recovery plan will offer the following services from the Philip Robinson Library:

Click and collect - items from the printed loan collections in ANY of our Libraries will be requested online and made available for collection from the foyer of the Philip Robinson Library.

A postal delivery service will be offered for those who cannot come to the Library to collect in person.

Postal returns - we will be offering a freepost service to enable students who completed their studies this summer to return any outstanding Library books to Newcastle.

Book drop - the facility to return books loaned from ANY of our libraries via the post slot in the Philip Robinson door has been available for most of the closure period and will continue to operate as normal. Items will be checked in by Library staff and removed from borrowers’ loan records as soon as we regain full access to the building. Overdue charges are currently being waived. All returned items will be quarantined for a period of 72 hrs before being reshelved as a safety precaution.

We are unable to produce smartcards in Phase 1 of reopening but will be looking to facilitate this as soon as possible. 

Who will be able to access onsite services?

We are prioritising onsite services for staff, students and NHS colleagues. Access for our valued community of external members will follow later.

When will I be able to access study spaces and IT clusters?

We hope to be able to offer controlled access to study spaces and IT clusters via bookable slots in Phase 2 of our reopening programme. We are still working out the practicalities of how this will operate within the recommended 25% building occupancy and ensuring that provision is in place for an enhanced cleaning regime in these areas. We’ll provide further details of when these services will be available as soon as we can.

What about access to Special Collections & Archives?

We are not yet able to provide access to the Reading Room or retrieve Special Collections material for consultation, but our specialist team are very happy to respond to your queries via the mailbox.

When can I come and browse the bookstock?

Access to the book shelves will not be possible in Phase 1 of our reopening programme. It is almost impossible to facilitate browsing in a manner that complies with physical distancing and hygiene requirements. We will revisit this as more of the libraries reopen, and in line with official advice.

When will the other Library buildings be open again?

We've chosen to start by reopening the Philip Robinson Library as it is the main University Library. What we learn from this experience will inform our planning for bringing the other buildings back into service. We are not yet able to say when this will be, but we’ll update you on their status as soon as we can.

Can I request items from the Library’s Research Reserve?

We hope to service requests for research reserve stock via the Philip Robinson Library click and collect service. However, the Research Reserve building is further down the list of University buildings to be reopened so we don’t yet have a firm date for when it will be possible to access this material.

What about scanning services?

Subject to compliance with copyright legislation, we hope to offer an online scan and deliver service from our print holdings in Phase 2 of our service recovery plan. It’s not yet possible to give a firm date for when this will commence, as we need to ensure robust access to stock and digitisation equipment across multiple Library sites.