Skip to main content

Libraries phased return starts Monday 6th July (Updated 14th July)

By July 16, 2020January 26th, 2021Education, Member News & Updates

What To Expect In Our Libraries  

Libraries will begin to reopen with a limited number of services from Monday 6th July.

The following libraries are open with public access to choose books from the shelves and use the computer facilities:  BrauntonBrixhamChudleigh and Honiton

CreditonDartmouthExmouthIlfracombeOkehamptonSidmouthSt ThomasSouth Molton and Tavistock will be open for public access from Monday 20th July.

‘Choose and Collect’ service starts from Monday 6th July, at most libraries, telephone or email your local library and arrange a collection date for titles selected for you.

Devon Mobile Library service will restart from Monday 13th July running a reduced service.

The Home Library Service and Books on Wheels in Torbay will resume from some libraries from Monday 13th July.

A Book Delivery service – Books by foot, bike and post is available at some libraries 
Book reservations using our website are currently unavailable, but you can contact your library to see if a book is available for Choose and Collect.

We are pleased to let you know that our libraries are starting the phased reopening plan.  Here’s what we are doing to welcome you back safely:

Our Services:

Choose and Collect  

To use our new free of charge ‘Choose and Collect’ service telephone or email your local library, we will select your books or DVDs and you can collect them from the library entrance at a pre-arranged time.

Digital Library 

Download and stream free eBooks, eAudiobooks and eMagazines from our extensive collection. You can use our online resources from home and access to Ancestry Library Edition has been extended to Devon Libraries and Torbay Libraries through to the end of July.

Book Delivery

Books by foot, bike and post (available from select libraries only) 
Our local Book Delivery service allows you to borrow books, DVDs and other library stock from your local library if you live nearby. Simply telephone your library, we will select items based on our discussion and we will make a delivery to your home.

For books not currently stocked in your local library please contact Exeter Library on 01392 407027 or [email protected] for our Books by Post service (please note due to a kind donation we are able to offer this postal service for free until further notice).

Library Service at pilot libraries

From Monday 6th July, we will offer a limited service at four pilot libraries (Braunton, Brixham, Chudleigh and Honiton) and will roll out opening across Devon and Torbay over the following weeks.

What to expect in our Libraries:

Opening Times

Libraries will initially offer limited opening times and reduced services.

Opening times will vary for each library and may change over future weeks, so do check opening times for your local library before you make your journey.

Signage – Honiton Library

Signs and queue management

To keep everyone safe we have installed safety signage throughout our libraries.  Safe queuing will be in place to enter the library. We have 2m social distancing measures, hand sanitisation stations and one-way systems to help the safe flow of customers through our libraries.

Customer Numbers

Our libraries vary in size, and we will limit the number of customers at any one time.  Factors such as layout, number of floors, staffing and services available may play a part in our safety management.

Hand sanitiser stations

Hand sanitiser and cleaning

We have invested in hand sanitiser stations for each library, enabling you to sanitise when entering the library. Cleaning will be in place for services such as our public computers and self-service kiosks.  Each library has been cleaned in advance of our return and has regular cleaning in place.

Test & Trace
You can voluntarily provide Libraries Unlimited with your name and telephone number to support NHS Test and Trace. Please speak to a member of staff if you wish to do so.
For more information about NHS Test and Trace


Social distancing

Each library has changed layouts to ensure adequate space for you to move around in safety.  We have marked up our floor space to support social distancing and we request that 2m social distancing is observed by all staff and customers.

Revised layout – Honiton Library

Quarantining returned books

For safety reasons libraries may initially be offering a more limited selection of stock for people to choose from. All books and items returned to the library will undergo 72 hours quarantine before they are discharged from your account and returned to the library shelves. We will be asking you to place returned items into a box near the library entrance to keep them separate for quarantining.

Browsing books – quarantining

We recognise that libraries are places where you enjoy browsing and that glancing through a book before is often an integral part of the experience.

In the event you change your mind, we have installed ‘browsing trolleys or boxes’ where you can safely leave a book or item you have handled and no longer wish to borrow. At the end of each day, stock from our browsing trolleys will be safely stored away for 72 hours to quarantine them from coronavirus transmission. This system is in place to support safety in our libraries.

Public access PCs

Booking computers

Services such as computer access, printing and photocopying will be available in our pilot libraries with a view to rolling-out these services as more libraries reopen.

Computer sessions may be limited to 1 hour and are bookable by phone, email or in person at your library.  Please speak to us if you think you may need extra time.

Please have the exact money to pay for any printing as there is currently no change available.

Computers are situated to allow for 2m social distancing and will be cleaned between every use. The numbers of computers available at your library will be reduced because of this safety measure.

Computer support

Please see the new links available on the public computer desktops for help with computers and IT queries.  We will not be able to give assistance with the computers at this time.

Children’s libraries

Children and families are very important to us and we want to make sure children continue to have a positive experience from their local library.

Our pilot libraries are trialling two approaches to help us understand how we can best encourage a love of reading amongst our youngest customers.

Braunton and Chudleigh will be offering a Choose and Collect service for children and families. We encourage parents and carers to call or email in advance so we can offer you a contactless service outside of the library. Due to the space limitations we will not be able to invite children into the library at this time.

Honiton and Brixham will invite families to use the library, however our children’s areas will remain closed at this time. Some stock will be available in the main library and we will be able to bring you any items that you require from the children’s library. Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult in the library.

We encourage parents and carers to speak with their children before they visit the library, about social distancing and also to let them know that whilst the library experience will feel different their library still loves them and wants them to enjoy reading and learning! We very much look forward to the day when we can restart our events and activities and hear the sound of happy children enjoying their library once more. Please visit our social media and website for details of the amazing online programme we have available over the next few months.

We welcome feedback from you about your library experience.


Events in libraries will remain suspended for now but you can still enjoy the activities and events that we are streaming and sharing online.

We will continue to develop our online digital offer so you have plenty of choice from the comfort of your home.  Find out more via or


Online reservations via our websites are currently unavailable. The full reservation system will be reintroduced after all libraries reopen.

If you have already placed an online reservation, please note this will not be satisfied until 31st August 2020 at the earliest due to the system closure, unless your library contacts you.

Account limits

You can now borrow a maximum of 24 books. This is a temporary measure and will be reviewed in December 2020.

Returning items

For all items borrowed prior to lockdown, we have extended loan dates through to the end of August 2020 in order to phase book returns. Please can we request that you continue to hold onto books, CDs and DVDs. We do not require you to make a special visit to your local library to return items and you will be able to return them from when your library reopens throughout July and August. There will be no fines as your current loan period has been extended.


We encourage you to make payments via our self-service kiosks, and in libraries where we have contactless payment via card.  We will only take cash payment where card payment is not possible and will not be able to offer change.


Our cafes will reopen with a limited offer when Exeter Library, Passmore Edwards Centre and The Hayridge open.

Other Facilities

Our customer lifts will be limited to one person, or one family group at a time.

Our customer toilets will remain closed until further notice to maintain a safe environment.

Seating areas in most libraries will be limited or removed due to space restrictions and social distancing.

Visiting us for the first time?

If you are visiting us for the first time please join online in advance. You will be able to use our digital services immediately. When you come to the library please bring your temporary [UNREG] number and we will provide you with your library card.


The safety of both our staff and our customers are important to us, and we are working hard to ensure libraries provide a safe and protective environment.

Following government guidance our staff are provided with safety equipment and you may see us wearing gloves, masks or visors.  All members of staff have completed Health & Safety training on how to work safely in this new environment.

Which libraries will open?

‘Choose and Collect’  – from Monday 6th July at most libraries. Please visit your local library page on Devon Libraries or Torbay Libraries websites to check availability.

Devon Libraries 

The libraries listed below will be open with reduced opening hours, limited capacity and service.  Opening hours may change so we recommend that you check individual library pages before you visit.

w/c 6th July

w/c 13th July
Mobile Library Service
Home Library Service

w/c 20th July
St Thomas
South Molton

Torbay Libraries

w/c 6th July
Pilot: Brixham

Phase two: Paignton, Torquay

The following libraries are currently closed – Ashburton, Buckfastleigh, Chulmleigh, Salcombe, Topsham, Totnes.  We are working on the reopening date and will confirm details as soon as possible.

Dates will be confirmed phase by phase and are subject to change.

Join the Digital Library

You can join the library by visiting this page. Once you have completed the online joining form, you will be given a temporary [UNREG] number, which will enable you to access our digital library immediately. As and when our libraries re-open we will process all temporary memberships registered during this closure period and we will issue a library card to you.

Meeting Room Hire

We’re looking forward to welcoming people back to our meeting rooms, and we are taking bookings now for meetings starting from 1st September.

We’re keeping a close eye on any changes to Government guidance, so please understand that if this changes, we may need to be in touch to advise you if this affects your booking.

To make a booking or for room hire enquiries please call 0333 2342123 or email [email protected]

Contact us

  • Devon Libraries website / Torbay Libraries website
  • General telephone enquiries (For Devon Libraries only) 0345 155 1001
  • Contact your local library by email for assistance with renewals or any other enquiries.
  • Please bear with us, at this time, as we are receiving an increased number of enquiries
  • We can also answer general enquiries and/or forward on general enquiries to the relevant member of the team from our info@ inbox. Please email [email protected] Please note that we aim to respond to all enquiries within 5 working days, but due to the current high level of enquiries and fast-moving national picture, we cannot guarantee this.

Information and advice
Reliable and up to date information about the coronavirus situation is available from: