Book amnesty as Bristol libraries reopen their doors: Central Library - Children's area

16 Jul 2021

Book amnesty as Bristol libraries reopen their doors

Bristol libraries will be reopening their doors next week and are offering people the chance to return any overdue books without having to pay the fines.

It has been a confusing year, with varied opening arrangements across the library service, so the team are giving everyone three months to hunt behind the sofa for any outstanding books, and bring them back to their local library without facing a penalty.

If books are not returned, the library service will have to spend additional money to replace them.

Libraries will continue to offer a number of measures to keep staff and customers safe. These include screens for help desks, hand sanitiser units and computers will remain more spaced out where possible. All libraries will be well ventilated.

Visitors are still encouraged to wear masks to protect library staff and other library users, but there will be no restrictions on time spent in the library, and no requirement to book computers in advance. NHS Test and Trace will still be available but on a voluntary basis.

The 23 libraries that are currently offering services will return to normal opening hours over the next two weeks, starting from Monday July 19. It may take up to two weeks to return to normal as layouts are changed back to allow for full browsing and use of the computers. The service’s website will be updated on a daily basis. Library buildings will not currently be available outside of opening hours.

Deputy Mayor Councillor Asher Craig, who has responsibility for libraries, said: “We are pleased to be taking another big step towards normality, but we still need to approach our new freedom with caution. Many of our libraries are historic, and some are small, so please be considerate to others and library staff while using the service, and please wear a mask if you can.

“It has been a tough year for everyone, and we appreciate that returning library books was probably not top of people’s ‘to-do list’ in recent months. That’s why we wanted to wipe the slate clean and allow everyone to bring back any books they find at home without fear of picking up a penalty.

“We know that not everyone has felt comfortable returning to a library, so now is the chance to bring your books back – no questions asked!

“I also want to say a massive thank you to the library team, who have done a magnificent job of moving so many activities and events online to help keep people entertained during such difficult times.”

There are four libraries that remain closed - Hartcliffe, St. Paul’s, Lockleaze and Avonmouth – and the service are working with the owners of these buildings to reopen them as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, the first floor of the Central Library will remain closed while the library team make some changes to their accessibility and evacuation process.

This means that the public toilets, including the accessible toilet, will be temporarily closed. Public computers, including the accessible desks and computers, have been moved to the ground floor.

First floor closures will also affect room hire at Southmead, Clifton, Henleaze, Bishopston and Junction 3 libraries.

Bristol Libraries will continue to offer a wide variety of services online for people to access at home. For a start there are eBooks which you can borrow from CloudLibrary and Overdrive. There is also access to eAudio books through BorrowBox.

Members can read 1000s of daily newspapers from around the world, as well as popular eMagazines, including; New Scientist, Gardeners World, Gracia and the Radio Times. Recently eComics have become available.

In addition, the library team will continue to run a number of online events from children’s story time and quizzes, through to a virtual Lego club and a podcast.

It’s really easy for people to join the library online. For information on joining, new opening hours and all the services you can access at home, please visit or search Bristol Libraries online.