Safety remains a priority as Sheffield library adapts to second lockdown

From boosting the digital offerings to quarantining returned books, Walkley Library has drastically changed the way it operates to ensure it can continue to operate safely under Covid-19 measures.

Tuesday, 17th November 2020, 12:30 pm

Like others across the city, it now offers an order and collect service to ensure book-lovers can continue to borrow novels which, in some cases, has helped whisk them away to a fictional world where the pandemic does not exist.

This, however, is just just one of the ways the volunteers at Walkley Library have been able to meet the needs of the community since the onset of Covid-19.

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Pictured is Mark Crossland at Walkley Library where there is an order and collect service

Chris Reece, chairman of the Walkley Carnegie Library group, said the library has moved the majority of its community events online where possible over the last few months – something which looks to continue as new lockdown measures are introduced to reflect what is called the ‘second wave’.

He said: “Heritage open day is in September and normally we would have had different organisations in Walkley opening their doors – St Mary’s Church, the community centre, Walkley Library, all of those would have had something going on.

"We decided that we would put most of the information online, through our website and social media, and drip fed it over the fortnight. We had also done a lot of work through the development fund with the University of Sheffield architecture department and they’ve done a big project where they look at the past of buildings, as well as the future.

"As part of that they look at ‘what is Walkley’ which focused on everything from ways of improving two key buildings – the library and the community centre - but also looked at making the whole main road pedestrian and cycle only. They created a video which we put on our website and will be shown at a couple of events.

Pictured is Edward Lawrance returning his books to Walkley Library

"We were also going to do our ‘history mystery’ tour which was created last year about a fictional painting from the Ruskin Museum, which in the 1860s was in Sheffield. We couldn’t do that so we provided everything online so people could do it themselves without having to come into the library.”

First and foremost though, Walkley Library is a library and volunteers have remained behind the scenes throughout to prepare books for loan, albeit with new measures in place to keep everyone safe.

Face masks and protective shields are now the norm, while anything that is returned is quarantined for 72 hours to protect other library users from the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Reece added: “After the first lockdown we had a huge amount of books returned so we had two days of just taking them in. We were also fortunate that we were able to stock up on new books for system for when we do reopen.

Walkley Library volunteer Fran Crawley

"Ever since then we’ve been building up the stock, which is around 7,000 books, now includes very new books and bestsellers which we are picking up as soon as they come out.”

Now, in the midst of the second national lockdown, Walkley Library is working to introduce further safety features in the hopes it can reopen more widely for browsing and computer use come December 2.

For more information and future updates visit the Walkley Library website.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.

A safety sign outside Walkley Library
Walkley Library. Pictured is volunteer Lucy Davies.