LIBRARIES across Craven are due to start a phased reopening from next week - but buildings will remain largely closed until coronavirus restrictions allow.

Skipton Library will be one of the 11 county council run libraries to operate by initially appointment only from Monday, where members will be able to access a free ‘select and collect’ service.

The council says most community-managed libraries will follow suit, but some will take a slightly different approach, so people should check its website or individual libraries Facebook pages.

The ‘select and collect’ service will allow library members to either email or call their library to request the kind of books they like. A member of the library team will then hand-pick a selection which then can be collected, and kept for up to three weeks.

People will also be able to use a new ‘library takeaway’ service of specially selected book bundles to borrow. There will be a menu on the library Facebook page each week for people to choose from.

Borrowers will be able to return and collect books from the library, during limited times for now, but the building will remain closed for all other services and books will be quarantined for a while when they are returned.

The county council says it aims to open more services in libraries in the weeks to come, starting with bookable access to public computers, followed by a return to browsing with social distancing in place.

It says only when restrictions are eased sufficiently will libraries reopen their public toilets, desks and tables for public use and café areas.

County Councillor Greg White, Executive member for libraries, said: “Our staff and volunteers are eager to welcome people back, but the safety of our customers must always come first. This is why we are taking things gradually. Staff and volunteers are all working hard behind the scenes to open the doors fully and safely and we will announce our next steps soon.

“All libraries are different, with a wide range of buildings and individual challenges to overcome, so we ask customers to be patient while we get our libraries back up and running fully.”

To start with, most county council-managed libraries will open 10am to noon and 2pm to 4pm on their normal opening days only for ‘select and collect’ and returns only.

Cllr White added: “Anyone who has items on loan from before lockdown does not need to hurry to return them. The loan period has been extended to September 1, so no fines are accruing. In fact, we have 105,000 items on loan, so we’d appreciate it if people wouldn’t return them all in the first few days.”

To find out more, visit the council website: People can also call their local library or the library helpline number, 01609 533878.