City of London’s lending libraries set to reopen

Book, music and film lovers, and young families, will be among those welcomed back to the City of London Corporation’s lending libraries on 20 July, following their closure in March, as part of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Staff at Barbican Library, Shoe Lane Library, and Artizan Street Library and Community Centre, are preparing for the opening date and the introduction of new arrangements, such as new self-service machines.

In order to comply with Government and Public Health England guidelines, all visitors will need to follow a range of new safety measures:

  • All visitors will be reminded to observe the two-metre social distancing rule
  • Library users will be asked to use hand sanitiser on arrival and use the cleaning products provided to wipe down ‘high touch’ areas, including self-service machines, with which they have been in contact
  • You may have to queue - the number of people in the libraries at any one time will be limited and customers are requested to restrict their visit to no longer than 30 minutes
  • Our children’s spaces can only accommodate one family at a time.
  • Socially distanced public computers will be available - for essential use only; and for no longer than 30 minutes
  • Transparent ‘sneeze screens’ will be installed on all counters
  • Newspapers, study spaces and seating will not be available
  • Library users can borrow books, CDs and DVDs – but please note: the reservation system has been suspended to reduce the need for users to make unnecessary journeys on public transport to return reserved items
  • Items on the ‘returned books’ shelves will not be available until they have been quarantined for 72 hours
  • Group activities will continue to be available online only

Library users should note the new temporary opening times, which have been introduced to help Transport for London reduce the pressure on public transport at busy times:

Barbican Library (including Barbican Music Library and Barbican Children’s Library)

Monday, Wednesday, Friday 11am – 3:30pm

Tuesday, Thursday 11am – 7pm

Shoe Lane Library

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 11am – 4pm

Tuesday 12 noon – 6:30pm

Artizan Street Library and Community Centre

Monday 12 noon – 6:30 pm

Tuesday to Friday 11am – 4pm

Randall Anderson, Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Children’s and Community Services Committee, said:

“People enjoy using our libraries but for some, including young families, residents who feel lonely and isolated in their community, and those who need assistance with literacy skills, it is no exaggeration to describe them as a lifeline.

“As soon as the libraries closed, my colleagues started building a virtual - and very successful - ‘library without walls’ to help us provide many services online and now, we are very much looking forward to welcoming people back in person.”

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

“Libraries are many things to many people, and we recognise that their temporary closure in March was felt keenly by many users, so it will be a great pleasure to reopen their doors on 20 July.

“New measures will be in place for everyone’s benefit and although they may initially feel unfamiliar, they will ensure that everyone enjoys a safe and enjoyable return to these popular spaces.”

The City of London Corporation, which owns and manages Barbican Library, Barbican Music Library, Shoe Lane Library, and Artizan Street Library and Community Centre 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, and £6.8m to support the development of the proposed Centre for Music.


Notes for Editors:

Carol Boswarthack, the City of London Corporation’s Head of Barbican and Community Libraries, and Randall Anderson, Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Children’s and Community Services Committee, are available for media interviews. Please contact Andrew Buckingham (see below) for details:

Media enquiries:

Andrew Buckingham

Media Officer (Arts and Culture), City of London Corporation

07795 333060

About the City of London Corporation:

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.