National restrictions are in place. Learn what this means if you live or work in Westminster.

Libraries - COVID-19 updates

Westminster’s libraries and the Archives Centre will be offering a reduced service during lockdown, in line with government guidance. We have heightened hygiene and social distancing measures in place to ensure residents can still safely enjoy some of our services.

Paddington Children's Library and Westminster Music Library are currently closed.

1. COVID-19 service changes

Our libraries and Archives centre will be open to provide:

  • 'select and collect' services for collecting reservations and returning library items
  • access to computers for essential use

There will be no access to other areas of the libraries including study spaces during this time.

Returned items will be quarantined for 72 hours. Library items on loan will continue to be automatically renewed, there will be no overdue or reservation charges during this period and any account which has been suspended will be temporarily reinstated to ensure everyone can access the books they need.

Visitors who wish to use the 'select and collect' or computer services are asked to observe government guidelines on social distancing and follow instructions from our library teams. Safety measures include:

  • hand sanitiser at the entrance and in the computer areas
  • perspex screens at 'select and collect' enquiry desks
  • access to libraries only for customers seated at a computer – 1 hour session time applies

Face coverings

Library visitors will be required to wear a face covering on entering our libraries.

All visitors, apart from children under 11 and those who have reasonable cause should wear a face mask, scarf or other covering. Not all exemptions are visible, so please be understanding of other library visitors.

NHS Test and Trace

We are participating in NHS Test and Trace.

We want you to enjoy our libraries safely. To help reduce the risk of a local outbreak of coronavirus, all visitors must provide contact details when entering.

In line with guidance issued by the government, we will keep your details for 21 days. We will only share the information with NHS Test and Trace in the event of a visitor testing positive for coronavirus.

You will be required to download the NHS COVID-19 app and scan the QR code to check-in. If you are unable to access the app, our staff will direct you to where you can complete manually.

Please help us keep our customers, staff and the wider community safe by cooperating.

2. Select and collect service

How to request items

There are several ways to request library items. You can:

  • order your books and other items using the library catalogue
  • use our Westminster libraries app, available via the App Store and Google Play Store
  • pmail libraries@westminster.gov.uk
  • phone 020 7361 3993 - this line is available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

What to request

You can still request specific titles and authors using our library catalogue or our Westminster libraries app.

If you are requesting items by email or phone, please include the following information when you contact us:

  • Your name
  • Your library card number
  • Your telephone number
  • When you’d like to collect the books

We are also offering book bundles for people who are unsure what they would like to borrow. If you would like us to select items for you, please include the following information in your request:

  • If there is a particular author or a particular subject
  • Fiction or non-fiction
  • Format (large print, audiobook, hardback or paperback)
  • Genre of fiction you enjoy (Thrillers, Crime, Romance, Science Fiction etc)
  • If children’s books, please specify reading level, theme or age

How to collect your items

We will prepare your books and get in touch with you through your preferred contact method to let you know the books are ready.

Please bring your library card with you to show our library staff when collecting your books. Your items will be bagged and already placed on your account.

Book renewals and returns

During library opening hours, you will be able to return books at returns boxes located near the entrance to the library. There is no need to join a queue to return books. You can also return books through the out-of-hours slots available at St John’s Wood Library.

Returned books are quarantined for 72 hours before being returned to the shelves. Return dates for loan items have been extended and overdue fees have been suspended so you do not need to renew.

3. Online resources

Our libraries offer many free online resources, including eBooks, eMagazines, eNewspapers and eAudiobooks which can be accessed with your Westminster library card. There are also eResources for children and young people, both for fun and to help with school work like Britannica Library Junior.

If you’re not already a member, you can join our libraries online and access these free resources straight away.

You can also access our virtual library via our social media channels for book recommendations, online events and much more.

4. Home Library Service

The home library service is able to deliver books and other materials to vulnerable residents. Staff will be taking precautions, including speaking to customers before a visit and stepping back two metres from the door when making deliveries. Any returned items will also be subject to a 72 hour quarantine period before they are loaned out again.

Please email homelibraryservice@westminster.gov.uk or call 020 7641 5405 for more information about the service. The phone line is open from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday; it is not open on weekends or bank holidays.

Last updated: 16 November 2020