A new chapter is set to start next week with all South Tyneside Council libraries open in line with the Government's roadmap out of lockdown.
During the national 'Stay at Home' restrictions, the Council has continued to operate a limited service from libraries at The Word in South Shields, Jarrow Focus and, more recently, at Cleadon Park Primary Care Centre.
Now, with restrictions being further relaxed under Step 2 of the roadmap, the library at Hebburn Central will also start welcoming back visitors from Monday 12 April.
Library users will be able to return and collect pre-ordered books, reserve access to libraries' public computers for essential use and enjoy time-limited browsing of selected shelves across all four sites - however, still on a strict appointment-only basis.
David Brooks, Corporate Lead for Culture and Leisure Services at South Tyneside Council, said: "While residents have still been able to return and collect library books and use the public computers over the lockdown period, access has been limited.
"We are delighted to be able to have all of our council library sites safely open once again as well as welcome people back to enjoy browsing our collections. However, there will still be measures in place to support the Government rules around Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air.
"It is really important that people pre-book their visit and don't just turn up to enable us to control visitor numbers and adhere to social distancing restrictions.
"We will be closely monitoring the arrangements in place and following the Government guidance so that when restrictions are eased enough we will be able to roll out access to the wider range of library services."
Books can be dropped off at library entrances. However, book collections, time-limited computer use and browsing slots must be arranged in advance over the phone. A maximum of 12 books can be borrowed at one time.
Toilets will be strictly for library users at this time. No other public facilities will be available, with cafes remaining closed and seating unavailable until further notice. Face coverings must be worn, with some exceptions.
The Home Readers Library Service will continue to operate as normal.
Library users can also continue to access the range of online library services including the complete collection of eBooks in South Tyneside's Digital Library. The Digital Library offers 24-hour access to hundreds of ebooks, eAudiobooks and online magazines - all free to download onto computers, eReaders, smart phone or tablets. Library members just need a valid library membership and pin number.
Those not already registered as library users, can sign up online and begin accessing the online services straightaway.
David added: "We continue to work hard to ensure services are delivered in a covid-secure way in line with the Government guidance. It is essential visitors to our libraries respect the rules to help keep themselves and others safe."
To arrange a visit, libraries can be contacted at:
- The Word, South Shields - (0191) 427 1818;
- Cleadon Park Library, South Shields - (0191) 424 6194;
- Hebburn Central Library - (0191) 424 7831;
- Jarrow Focus Library - (0191) 489 7786.
For further details about South Tyneside Libraries, what people should do before they visit, as well as information about joining the library, visit the Council's website at www.southtyneside.gov.uk/libraries
Keep up to date with South Tyneside Libraries on social media, on Facebook southtynesidelibraries and STynesideCouncil and on Twitter @SouthTyneLibs and @STyne_Council
Details of the latest Government restrictions and the impact of coronavirus on South Tyneside Council services can be found at www.southtyneside.gov.uk/coronavirus