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Awen Libraries celebrated Libraries Week with even more branches reopening for book browsing

Awen Libraries celebrated this year’s Libraries Week – which took place across the UK from 5 – 10 October – with the news that seven of its branches have now reopened for book browsing following coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Aberkenfig, Bridgend, Maesteg, Pencoed, Porthcawl and Pyle libraries are now open from 9am to 12pm and 1pm to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Betws Library is open from 9am to 12pm and 1pm to 5pm on Monday and Tuesday, and 1pm to 5pm on Thursday.

This year’s theme for Libraries Week was ‘Your Passport to Reading’ – something that is more important than ever in the current times. Books can offer some much needed escapism but also practical help and guidance on a range of subjects for adults and children alike.

Richard Hughes, Chief Executive of Awen Cultural Trust, the registered charity which manages the library service across the county borough of Bridgend on behalf of the local authority, said:

“Over recent months, both when our libraries were closed to reduce the spread of coronavirus, and during our phased approach for their safe reopening, I have seen the important contribution that these essential community spaces make to people’s lives every day.

“From providing access to online books and magazines for our members’ enjoyment, educational resources such as Encyclopaedia Britannica and FutureLearn to support the home-schooling efforts of parents, to offering free PC use for job-seekers and those needing to use online services, our libraries are a lifeline for so many.

“Sadly, our Libraries Week celebrations were a little different this year, with no face-to-face events and activities able to take place, but I am delighted that, thanks to the efforts of library colleagues and those working behind the scenes, we were able to safely reopen seven of our libraries in time, so that people could have the pleasure of browsing for books.”

To support social distancing, a number of measures have been implemented including limiting the number of people who can enter a library at any one time, hand sanitising stations and additional cleaning. It is also recommended that book browsing is limited to a 20 minutes a day and masks are compulsory in these public spaces.

There are a reduced number of public computers which can be pre-booked by telephoning the library in advance. Appointments are restricted to 45 minutes to allow library staff to clean the equipment and desk between each session.

Awen Libraries’ successful ‘book and collect’ service will continue to operate for customers who are unable or feel nervous about visiting a public space just yet. Members can place an order by telephoning their library and arranging a collection time.

Richard added:

“During Libraries Week we also used our Awen Libraries social media platforms to showcase the many ways people can access books, enjoy reading activities and stay learning – there’s never been a better time to become a member!”

Councillor Dhanisha Patel, Cabinet Member for Well-Being and Future Generations, said:

“Now more than ever, local libraries are proving to be an important social link within our communities, and it is great to see that Awen have been able to bring so many back into use along with procedures designed to keep people safe as they use the range of services that are available.”