The guide is divided into four sections covering one-way systems, entrances, social distancing aids and staff safety. Ayub Khan, who advised the architects from a library perspective, writes:
This is a very timely publication. At the moment many of us are desperately trying to retro-fit our libraries to minimise risks, for staff and customers, from coronavirus. Almost every aspect of library layout - and all our current working practices - are effectively under review. Library books themselves could be a danger, carrying infection into the home.
At the time of writing, social distancing and other Government restrictions to contain the spread of infection have been eased but are still in place. Meanwhile the threat of further, localised lockdowns or a wider second wave cannot be discounted. Until a vaccine is developed and deliverable, uncertainties will continue.
Experts apparently predicted a global pandemic and tell us this will not be the last - so we cannot, and must not, assume this is a one-off health crisis. The implications for library design and layout are huge, not least because modern libraries are complex places - designed around social interaction, events and activities alongside the books.
We have a whole new set of practical considerations before us - from counter guards to storage capacity for quarantined stock. And it’s not just the physical we have to consider. We must expect people to be warier of public places from now on and need to design spaces they can feel safe in.
It was great working with the architects and combining our skills and different perspectives to find solutions to some urgent, practical problems. I suspect our two sectors will have much to discuss as time goes on but, for now, this booklet offers a short and succinct summary of some of the key issues we all need to consider as we reopen our libraries. You can download it from this page, and it’s free to use.