City of London libraries offer limited services during second lockdown

The City of London Corporation’s family of public lending libraries are providing a range of limited and COVID-19-secure ‘hyperlocal’ services while the Government’s new restrictions are in place.

Although libraries have been instructed to close from 5 November until 2 December inclusive, there are exemptions that are enabling libraries to offer a handful of essential services (see Notes for Editors), which include:

Select and Collect:

If a book is showing in a library’s catalogue as being on the shelves in any of the libraries, library members can phone during opening hours or email at any time – clearly stating their, and the book’s details - and the book will be found, issued to the user’s ticket, along with details of how it can be collected safely in person. Library users can request to borrow up to 12 books.

At Barbican Library, this service will be operated from the rear of the library, opposite Shakespeare Tower on the Barbican Estate. Staff will give directions when they confirm that the books are ready for collection. At Shoe Lane Library and Artizan Street Library, staff will meet people at the main entrance.

Essential use of PCs:

This service is available at Shoe Lane Library and Artizan Street Library only. If library users need to get online, the two libraries’ public computers will be available from Monday to Friday for one-hour slots during the library opening hours (see below). To avoid disappointment, library users are strongly advised to phone ahead and book a session. Library users will not be able to wait inside until a PC is free, and staff require 15 minutes between each booking to clean the equipment. The Barbican Centre is currently closed to the public so, unfortunately, we are unable to offer this service at Barbican Library.

Wendy Hyde, Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Culture, Heritage and Libraries Committee, said:

“My colleagues at our libraries across the Square Mile are in no doubt that the services that they provide can be a lifeline for many of those who use them, never more so than during these very challenging times.

“We are making available book lending and essential computer use services, both, safely and efficiently, and I feel sure that many library users will want to benefit from them.”

During the libraries’ temporary closure until early December, library users can still download eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, and eComics on to their own devices – they are available at any time (24/7).

Library staff will continue to run virtual clubs, groups, talks, and children’s activities. Please visit and social media pages for full details.

Barbican Library

Tel: 020 7638 0569 / Email:

Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 11.00am - 3.30pm

Shoe Lane Library

Tel: 020 7583 7178 / Email:

Opening hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, 11am - 4pm / Tuesday, 12pm – 6.30pm

Artizan Street Library

Tel: 020 7332 3810 / Email

Opening hours: Monday: 12pm - 6.30pm / Tuesday - Friday, 11am - 4pm

The City of London Corporation, which owns and manages Barbican Library, Shoe Lane Library and Artizan Street Library, is the fourth largest funder of heritage and cultural activities in the UK and invests over £100m every year.

In partnership with the Barbican, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London Symphony Orchestra, and Museum of London, the City Corporation is leading the development of Culture Mile between Farringdon and Moorgate, a multi-million-pound initiative to create a new cultural and creative destination for London. As part of this, the City Corporation is providing a £197m investment in the new Museum of London, which will open in West Smithfield in 2024.


Notes for Editors:

Andrew Buckingham, Media Officer (Arts & Culture), City of London Corporation

T: +44 (0) 20 7332 1452 / M: +44 (0) 7795 333060 /


About the City of London Corporation:

Guild The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a

globally-successful UK. 

About the Government’s COVID-19 restrictions relating to library services:

The regulations state that ‘under the restrictions, library services must close their buildings for general public access, but are allowed to operate these services:

  • Home Library Service (doorstep delivery, no-contact service)
  • School Library Service (doorstep delivery, no-contact service)
  • Order & Collect services
  • Access to PCs for essential purposes
  • Digital and remote services including eLending, online events and activities and keep in touch calls.

These services must be managed in COVID secure ways, in line with the relevant sections in this guidance.’ /