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LATEST: Plan to open all Kent libraries

Friday 30th July 2021

ALL of Kent’s 99 libraries will reopen their doors to the public next month, it has been revealed.

Kent County Council (KCC) has announced its intended route out of lockdown for some of its community services, with more than half of its libraries still shut.

Members were told that the 56 closed libraries will reinstate full services in the middle of August as restrictions continue to ease.

Cllr Mike Hill (Con), KCC’s cabinet member for communities, said he hopes to reopen them in August, even if social distancing rules are not lifted on July 19.

He added: “If we have another extension, I will open all libraries regardless.

“It will mean we have to open in a Covid-safe environment and it may take a little longer, but we won’t miss that mid-August date by much.”

Around 43 Kent libraries are now open, including some based in n Ashford, Dartford, Dover, Folkestone, Gravesend, Sevenoaks, Swale and Tonbridge.

Visitors are allowed to browse bookshelves and computers, with study spaces also reopened and social distancing encouraged.

It comes amid a “rollercoaster ride” of closing and opening libraries over the last 18 months, during the pandemic, as KCC aims to keep community services running while also protecting public health and adhering to government rules.

Sir Paul Carter (Con), who is the chair of KCC’s growth, economic development and communities committee, said earlier today: “This is very good news.

“I totally support and endorse this. It will be great to see all libraries reopen again so the public can access them.”

His comments came during a virtual meeting involving councillors from all political stripes,

Calls were also made to expand mobile library services in rural areas, with five based in the county, including Ashford, Allington, Dover, Northfleet and Sturry.

A future report reviewing all Kent libraries will be presented to the committee, with the next meeting scheduled at 10am on September 24.