Social distancing is in place, the masks and gloves are freely available and we have enough hand sanitiser to swim in – the Scottish Poetry Library is ready to re-open.
This week, the majority of the SPL staff returned to the Library to ready it for our reopening on Monday, 17 August. After working at home for the better part of four months, it was strange to once more be back in the SPL. Strange because it was both new and familiar. For the old lags on the staff, it was reminiscent of returning to the Library after the refurbishment the building underwent in 2015. The changes to the building aren’t as radical as then but the sensation of same-but-different was familiar. The first thing to strike one on entering – the smell. That mix of wood and paper. It was oddly comforting, given the other ways in which the Library has changed. It’s also – and this might strike you as odd to say of a library – quiet. Without staff and borrowers, the Library has achieved a genuine and unsought quietude.
The staff are now working in teams, on different days, so that if one member of one team falls ill, we can keep the Library open. These teams are, as per guidelines, keeping socially distant, and, where appropriate, wearing masks. We even have a corona-virus themed display of books. A hand sanitiser dispenser stands guard at the door, which will be open from Monday, although you won’t be able to explore the Library. That’s where click and collect comes in.
Click and collect? It’s simple. Email our librarian email@example.com or give us a call on 0131 557 2876 between 10am and 2pm, Monday to Friday, and if we have the book you’re after, and it’s not on loan, we’ll put the book aside, wrapped in a tote bag, for you to come to the building and collect.
If you don’t feel comfortable coming into the Library, we are offering free postal loans. After browsing our online catalogue, you can order a book you wish to borrow by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0131 557 2876 between 10am and 2pm, Monday to Friday. Postal borrowers will be able to have two books sent out to them. We will manage a once-a -week bulk postal service and provide a freepost label so you can return the books to us. Those who come to the Library in person will be able to pick up the usual six books per loan. Users might wish to consider quarantining their books for 72 hours after collecting them from the Library. The staff are here now, and hoping to hear from you soon.
UPDATE (November 2020):
The Library is now open to visitors Monday to Friday, 10am to 2pm. Previously, our reduced Covid-safe service consisted of click and collect as well as free extended postal loans. Those services remain, but now our users can come into the building to browse our collection. As we’re only permitting three borrowers in the building at any one time, we recommend contacting the Library to book a slot. Anyone entering the Library must wear a mask and practice social distancing. Non-members will have to sign up for a library card to use the building unless it is to access the shop only. There will be a bathroom available for users. Our service is informed by the Government’s Covid-19 guidance for libraries.