Libraries and registration staff look forward to returning as the heartbeat of their communities

Residents in Oxfordshire are to be given a warm welcome back to libraries and registration offices from Monday, July 13 onwards.

Oxfordshire County Council is planning a phased approach to the reopening of such public buildings with every precaution being taken to make sure that this happens safely for those staff who will work in them and members of the public who visit them.

Councillor Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, Cabinet Member for Education and Cultural Services said: “Our libraries and registration staff have missed serving the Oxfordshire public and being the heartbeat of their communities. It’s a moment we been anticipating hugely for many weeks and now it is very close.

“Our excitement is being blended with a safety first approach. Each building is different and they are all being fully assessed to make sure they are as safe as they can be.

“All of us at the council appreciate how highly valued our cultural facilities are and we join residents in looking forward to mid-July when we will begin to see the re-opening.

“We will keep everyone up to date on our website and via social media whenever a new re-opening is due and also on the safety arrangements that have been put in place.

How will libraries and registration offices differ?

Due to the continued need to respond to COVID-19, the operation of libraries and registration offices will differ in key ways from how they operated in normal times prior to lockdown.

The service will look very different for staff and customers. With controlled numbers being able to enter buildings customers may sometimes need to queue to get in. Customers will be requested to limit their enjoyment of browsing, borrowing and returning their library materials to 30 minutes.

For those who need access to computers and Wi-Fi, customers will be able to use the public computer network for 30 minutes. There is discretion for staff to extend that 30 minutes if a customer is part way through a Universal Credit application or similar.

Printing, scanning and photocopying will be available and bus pass and blue badge validation will be available. In common with much of the retail sector, payments will need to be made by card or online; however, photocopiers will still be operated by coin.

To comply with social distancing measures, most soft seating and tables will be removed. Staff will stand behind perspex screens to respond to customers queries. Public toilets won’t be available.

Face-to-face programmes and events e.g. Rhymetime, author talks will be re-established once government advice says it is safe to do so. These will continue to be delivered virtually via social media where possible and we will continue to provide online services including ebooks, eaudio books and reference materials.

Dates for libraries

The following libraries will reopen on the week commencing July 13

  • Abingdon:
  • County Library, Oxford:
  • Thame
  • Witney
  • Bicester
  • Didcot

The following libraries will reopen on the week commencing July 20

  • Banbury
  • Cowley
  • Carterton
  • Henley
  • Kidlington

Dates for the reopening of libraries elsewhere in Oxfordshire will be published in due course.

Dates for registration offices

  • Tidmarsh Lane, Oxford (ceremonies): July 14
  • Bodicote House, Banbury (appointments and ceremonies): July 13
  • Didcot Library Registration Office: July 13
  • Henley: July 17

Dates for the reopening of Registration Offices elsewhere in Oxfordshire will be published in due course.

Oxfordshire Museum and the History Centre

Dates for the re-openings of the Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock and the, History Centre in Cowley will also be published as soon as possible.

We are looking forward to welcoming our customers back and hopefully some new ones too.