UNISON nationally has lobbied DCMS and Libraries Connected for public libraries in England to close completely with no exemptions for e.g. PC use and click and collect. The government’s national lockdown guidance states that:
“Libraries can also remain open to provide access to IT and digital services – for example for people who do not have it at home – and for click-and-collect services”
We’ve lobbied for complete closure as per first lockdown, to ensure our NHS is not overwhelmed and to keep library workers, users and our communities safe.
We find ourselves in a new situation now with a new, variant that is 50 – 70 % more transmissible and a million current infections across the country. Plymouth is still one of the safer areas but the situation is becoming worse here too and libraries are one of a number of operations that could close at least until the current wave recedes.
UNISON would prefer a national decision so local authorities would not be burdened with yet more local negotiations at this critical time with hospitals struggling and a programme of vaccination within reach. However that is where we are at and so library staff need to make clear to Plymouth in UNISON if they would like us to lobby more intensively for closure.
We have shared this advice from the national Libraries committee already.