Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Library re-opens

THE library in Wargrave has opened again after being closed for nearly 16 months.

The Church Street library was shut by Wokingham Borough Council in March last year at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Librarian Ros Fernley was
re-deployed to answer the council’s phone lines from her home in Loddon Drive during the height of the crisis and was not furloughed throughout.

The larger libraries in Woodley, Earley and Wokingham, which are also run by the council, were open at various times during the pandemic depending on the covid-19 restrictions in place.

Mrs Fernley, who has worked at the library since 2008, said: “It is a very special place for me, so I am very pleased to think we may be close to getting back to normal.

“It was a shame we had to close but at that time I was relieved that the council took measures to ensure everybody’s safety.

“Smaller libraries were harder to keep open because of restricted space for social distancing.

“It has felt like a very strange period of time and I think most people have had a bit of a rollercoaster ride in terms of their emotions and mental health. 

“I felt very lucky to have been employed for the whole period. It really is so good to be back and to see so many of our regulars making a beeline for the library.

“We’ve had lots of lovely comments from our visitors and they have been delighted to be met with a library brimming with a great selection of new books.

“Some families from Wargrave visited Woodley while we were closed. Customers were still able to access our e-book services and we also had a range of virtual events, including children’s storytime and rhymetimes.

“I think it will take time for everyone to regain their confidence but it would be a great shame to lose the people who have been very careful about shielding because they felt nervous about using the library, so all libraries are operating as safely as possible.

“My library neighbours really missed having people visiting the library but during this time the village has gained two coffee shops and a couple of barbers, so Wargrave is on the up in every sense.”

Staff at the libraries that remained open during the pandemic were required to quarantine books, increase cleaning and restrict the numbers of visitors.

From the beginning of this year, they were running a click and collect service. All are now open as normal.

Visitors to Wargrave library are being encouraged to wear face masks, sanitise regularly and to keep their distance from others. There is no limit on the number of people allowed inside at once.

Mrs Fernley said reading had played a key role in helping people’s mental health during the pandemic.

She said: “The children that had all their lessons via a screen were probably very pleased to have a break to read a book. 

“Residents who use the library tend to be book lovers, so they often have plenty to read at home, although some of our more mature readers have reported that they were pretty fed up with re-reading their own books and very relieved to have the library open again.”

The library is open from 2pm to 5pm on Mondays and Fridays, from 9.30am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm on Wednesdays and 9.30am to 1pm on Saturday.

More News:

POLL: Have your say