LIBRARIES are preparing to welcome back visitors who have missed the pleasure of browsing for books in person.

Radcliffe Library will be the first to reopen its doors, on Wednesday, April 21, with the borough’s remaining branches in Ramsbottom, Prestwich and Bury following over the coming weeks. Radcliffe will be open from 1pm to 4pm, from Tuesdays to Fridays.

In order to maintain social distancing, each library will only be able to allow a limited number of people in at any one time.

Customers will be greeted at the library entrance by a member of staff who will explain the new procedures for browsing. Customers will be asked to sanitise their hands on entry and it is compulsory to wear a face covering when visiting the library; customers will also need to provide contact details for the Track and Trace programme. All returned items will be quarantined for 72 hours before returning to the library shelves

All libraries will continue to offer the Order & Collect service, launched last year to enable customers to choose their books online and pick them up or return them at a designated time.

This service will continue between the hours of 1pm and 4pm, Tuesdays to Fridays.

Limited public access to computers is currently available at Radcliffe, Ramsbottom and Prestwich Libraries – to book a session, contact the library directly.

During the pandemic there has been a substantial increase in the use of online library services, and these will continue to be offered.

For youngsters, libraries also offer online Rhyme Time and Story Time sessions via their Facebook page.

Donna Ball, executive director of operations at Bury Council, said: "It’s great to be getting back to normal, and we know how much our libraries are valued by residents. While we’ve continued to offer online services and borrowing during the crisis, we know that for many people nothing beats being able to come in and browse the shelves yourself. We’re delighted to be reopening in a Covid-safe way and look forward to welcoming back our customers in person.”