Libraries across Herts close for next few days to assess impact of coronavirus pandemic

Should Herts libraries remain open?

Should Herts libraries remain open? - Credit: Archant

Libraries across Herts have temporarily closed to enable a proper assessment of the best strategy during the coronavirus crisis.

Herts county council had been keeping the facilities open to provide community resources, but with the escalation of the contigency measures surrounding the pandemic, the decision has been taken to close them.

Terry Douris, cabinet member for education, libraries and localism, explained: “Due to COVID-19 we have taken the difficult decision today to close our libraries with immediate effect for the next few days as a precautionary measure, whilst we assess how we might continue to provide some elements of the service to the community.

“Our customers, staff and volunteers’ health and wellbeing is of paramount importance for us at Hertfordshire County Council and we want to reassure everyone that we are doing everything within our power to respond quickly to national development and protect all our residents.

“As the country follows government advice on social distancing and self-isolation, we think it’s important that our residents still have access to a library service. Currently this can be achieved by downloading the Borrow Box app where you can continue to enjoy your favourite e-books and listen to audiobooks as part of your membership.”

Reader Paul Orrett was one of many people who had questioned the decision to keep the libraries open.

“Having experienced Luxembourg, France and Germany in the last three months I don’t understand why Hertfordshire are keeping their libraries open. Or rather I do - it’s just misplaced commitment to carry on ‘providing a service’ through the crisis.

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“This misses the point, the whole point of the close down is to stop people mingling so that they cannot share the bug. By keeping libraries open Hertfordshire is undermining the government policy of closing pubs, clubs and restaurants. I know they are going to say they are providing a lifeline. Actually given that many library users are elderly they are probably providing a deathline.

“Keeping the libraries open for some kind of committing to a Dunkirk spirit it’s not admirable it’s just stupid.”