South Tyneside Libraries are preparing for the next chapter in the recovery from coronavirus, with the reintroduction of some face-to-face social activities in Council library buildings from next week (Monday 17 May).
During national restrictions, the Council has continued to operate a limited book service as well as hosted virtual activities and events from its libraries at The Word, Cleadon Park Primary Care Centre, Jarrow Focus and Hebburn Central.
Now that restrictions on indoor activities are being further lifted in line with Step 3 in the Government's roadmap out of lockdown, some reading, craft and baby groups are making a return to Council library buildings.
Baby Bounce sessions give parents and guardians the opportunity to share in a love of books with their babies (up to 13 months), enjoy singing and stories and borrow books to read at home. South Tyneside reading groups encourage informal discussions among book lovers.
Councillor Joan Atkinson, Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council with responsibility for Culture and Leisure, said: "Our libraries provide so much more than a book borrowing service - they are a lifeline in our communities for so many people.
"Under normal circumstances, they offer a rich and varied programme of social and community activities, giving people a wonderful opportunity to meet others and share in a love of books, reading, crafts, history and much more.
"While our libraries have continued to provide a limited service during the lockdown period, we are delighted to be able to reintroduce some of our groups back into buildings to enjoy face-to-face social activities in a safe way, particularly after such a long period of only online events. We know they have been missed.
"Getting our libraries back to how they were is a slow and steady process as we continue to operate a phased recovery in line with the restrictions. Therefore, it is important to remember measures will remain in place in our libraries to support the Government guidance around Hands, Face and Space. With numbers remaining limited, it is essential that people reserve their places in advance and don't just turn up.
"We also appreciate that some of our residents may not feel ready to return to library buildings just yet, which is why some of our reading groups will continue to run online."
Baby Bounce sessions will be returning to library buildings from:
Mondays (from 17 May) 2.30pm to 3pm Cleadon Park Library (424 6194);
Tuesdays (from 18 May) 10.30am to 11am The Word (427 1818);
Fridays (from 14 May) 10.30am to 11am Hebburn Central (424 7831).
Face to face reading group sessions are returning from:
Tuesday 1 June 1.45pm The Word;
Wednesday 2 June 1.30pm Hebburn Library;
Thursday 3 June 10am Hebburn Library;
Saturday 12 June 11am The Word;
Thursday 24 June 1.30pm Jarrow Library;
Thursday 1 July 6pm Cleadon Park Library;
Thursday 8 July 6pm Cleadon Park Library.
The final South Tyneside Libraries Zoom Reading Group will be held on Tuesday 1 June.
Anyone interested in attending the reading groups can book a place by contacting Pauline Martin on (0191) 424 7805. Alternatively, people can call Jarrow Library on 489 7786 and leave a message.
Those who enjoy library craft groups are advised to contact the library they would normally attend for details of returning groups and the sessions available.
Libraries continue to run a book 'click and collect' service as well as reserved access to public computers and time-limited browsing of selected shelves. However, still on a strict appointment-only basis.
The Home Readers Library Service continues 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.
For further details about South Tyneside Libraries, memberships and the full range of facilities and activities available, visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/libraries or follow on social media: Facebook southtynesidelibraries and STynesideCouncil and on Twitter @SouthTyneLibs and @STyne_Council