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Library queues around the block on first day of reopening

PUBLISHED: 12:56 06 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:48 06 July 2020

People queuing to get into the Forum on the first day of the reopening of the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library. Picture: Chris Goreham

People queuing to get into the Forum on the first day of the reopening of the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library. Picture: Chris Goreham

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With books three months overdue and long ago read and reread library users queued around the block to be amongst the first through the doors on the first day of reopening.

Sarah Gale and Barbara Milton among the people queuing to get into Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library. Picture: Simon ParkinSarah Gale and Barbara Milton among the people queuing to get into Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library. Picture: Simon Parkin

Twelve of Norfolk’s libraries, which closed when lockdown started in March, reopened either today or tomorrow, with the rest to follow in the coming weeks and months.

At Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library, where the main library is open though the Norfolk Heritage Centre and American Library remain closed, a long line of eager users keen to return to browsing the shelves snaked in front of the Forum and into Ber Street.

MORE: When a dozen of Norfolk’s libraries will reopen

Among them was Barbara Milton with a large bag full of books and DVDs to return for herself and her husband David.

Jan Holden, head of Norfolk Library and Information Service. Picture: Hannah Hutchins/National Centre for WritingJan Holden, head of Norfolk Library and Information Service. Picture: Hannah Hutchins/National Centre for Writing

“Between us we have got through them all and so it’ll be nice to return them and get something different,” she said.

“I did try to return them while it was closed but there was nowhere to leave them. I’m assuming they were automatically renewed and that I don’t get hit with a big fine!

“It’s great that it has reopened. I’m also a member of a book group and we’ve all had to buy the books during lockdown.”

Liz Mulligan, from, Norwich, said: “I’m so happy that it has reopened. I use it for books because I love reading but also for the computers. I don’t have a computer at home so I did feel a bit cut off during lockdown.”

Sarah Gale also had a bag of books to return for her mother and nine-year-old son James.

She said: “I think it’s great that it has reopened. My mum has really missed it especially as she loves reading. I’ll be getting some books for my son too.

“I’m a bit surprised it didn’t reopen before now actually. I would have thought it was realistically easier to maintain social distancing in a library than in other places.”

MORE: The Forum in Norwich to reopen to the public

Other libraries opening this week include Mile Cross, Sprowston, Acle, Great Yarmouth, Diss, Wymondham, Thetford, Fakenham, Dereham, King’s Lynn and Downham Market.

Changes include customers to only visit the library on their own or in pairs and a one-way system through every building. Computer sessions have to be booked, and seating areas, study spaces and newspapers are not available.

Customers are also being asked to have their library card to gain access and to use hand sanitiser as they enter.

Users can also return items via the drop boxes and self-service kiosks at each library that will then be quarantined for up to 72 hours.

Jan Holden, head of Norfolk Library and Information Service, said: “Our libraries are cherished by so many across Norfolk and we know that people have been itching to get back as soon as it was safe to do so. It’s not often that you welcome the sight of a queue but it was reassuring to know that Norfolk’s love for books hasn’t dimmed since the lockdown started.

“I would like to pay tribute to our team who have worked hard to ensure we can begin opening our libraries in a responsible manner.

“We would also like to thank our customers for sticking with us during the lockdown and for abiding by the new rules. The process of reopening and readjusting has only just begun so we would ask for everyone’s patience as we find our feet.”

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