With the gradual opening of libraries following the easing of lockdown restrictions, thousands of visitors have taken the opportunity to return to libraries across the city.

And with more than 12,200 visitors through the doors at Manchester Central Library and branch libraries since they opened two weeks ago, the city’s library bosses are taking this opportunity to remind people to return overdue library books that have been sitting on shelves over the last year and in some cases longer.  Currently, there are approximately 90,000 items out on loan.

Access to reading has been a lifeline for so many people during lockdown and now that library buildings are open again, albeit with reduced opening hours,  it’s an opportunity to return all those overdue books and library materials so that many more people can enjoy them.

Fines for overdue items were suspended during Covid-19 but all these books and other library materials need to be returned.  There is a time-limited fines amnesty until 31 May.  From June people will start to be charged fines again.

In line with Covid guidelines, all library visitors are required to wear a face covering, unless medically exempt.  All customers are asked to sanitise their hands on entry to the library and to use disinfectant wipes to wipe down any equipment used before and after use.  Social distancing is required, and signage is in place to re-enforce these risk mitigation measures.  Track and trace will also continue to be in place at all sites.

People are being encouraged to return their books to their local library where possible but can return to any Manchester library. People can find their nearest library and opening times at manchester.govv.uk/libraries.

Neil MacInnes, OBE, Head of Libraries, Galleries and Culture said: “We are delighted to be able to offer more services in our libraries now that lockdown is easing. The gradual reopening and access to more services are the first steps on this long road to normality and we have worked hard to ensure that all our libraries are Covid-safe for the return of staff and residents. 

“And now that our library buildings are open, we have something to ask of residents. We need you to rummage on shelves, bedside tables, book piles and find those library books that were borrowed and bring them back to us so that other people have a chance to enjoy them. We know that people will have a lot on their minds now that life is changing once again but there’s no need to worry about fines on overdue books, we have a time-limited amnesty until the end of May. Our staff will be looking forward to being deluged with book returns.”