Safety in libraries must be a priority

‘Our library workers need the certainty that will come with their workplaces being closed for this next lockdown phase’

rows of books in a library

As the second lockdown comes into force in England, the Westminster government has published new national restrictions to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

Under the government guidelines, libraries can still provide some services such as access to IT and click and collect.

UNISON believes that even providing these services contains risks to staff and the public and that during this lockdown libraries need to close completely.

“All parts of the UK have been experiencing increasing rates of infection,” said UNISON’s head of local government Jon Richards. “We all love our libraries, but it is paramount that libraries play their part in reducing the risk of transmitting the virus.

“And ‘closed’ must mean putting a temporary stop to all click and collect services and access to IT provision too.

“We need to save lives and protect our local communities and the NHS. It is simply not sensible to encourage unnecessary travel.”

Mr Richards added: “We know that for hard working and dedicated library staff, this year has been incredibly difficult and stressful.

“We know they are exhausted. Libraries delayed closing their doors back in the spring and now the government is threatening to keep library doors open during this long-predicted second wave.

“It is particularly stressful for those library workers who are vulnerable or who live with vulnerable friends and family. Our library workers need the certainty that will come with their workplaces being closed for this next lockdown phase.

“UNISON believes these measures are vital to keep everyone safe.”