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Date created: 6/10/2020

Barbican Library reopening

In line with the government COVID-19 roadmap, Barbican Library (including Barbican Music Library and Barbican Children's Library) reopened for borrowing and returning items, enquiry work, time-limited browsing and PC use on Monday 12 April. Access to the Library is via the Library’s Main Entrance on Level 2 of the Barbican Centre. This can be accessed via Speed High Walk, the Barbican Centre Ramp from Lakeside Terrace or over Gilbert Bridge.

The opening hours are:

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 11am – 3:30pm
Tuesdays and Thursdays 11am – 6pm

Shoe Lane Library reopening

From Monday 19 April, Shoe Lane Library will also be opening for borrowing and returning items, enquiry work, time-limited browsing and PC use. 

The opening hours will be:

Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays: 11am-4pm
Tuesdays: 12pm-6.30pm

Our COVID-19 safety measures will be as they were prior to the last lockdown and include asking all visitors to scan the NHS Test & Trace code or fill out a Test and Trace form at the door; sanitising hands; keeping visits to under 30 minutes (one hour for PC use), observing social distancing and the one-way systems and browsing with your eyes as much as possible. Unless you are a young child or you are exempt for medical reasons, mask wearing is mandatory.

For more information please see below the COVID-19 safety measures in place, in order to comply with Government and Public Health England guidelines:

  • All visitors will be asked to comply with NHS Test and Trace. If you can download the app to your phone and use our QR codes, this takes seconds.
  • Unless you are exempt or a child aged under 11 years, face coverings are mandatory
  • All visitors are reminded to observe the two-metre social distancing rule and follow one-way systems.
  • Library users can borrow books, CDs and DVDs but newspapers, magazines, study spaces and seating will not be available.
  • Library users will be asked to use hand sanitiser on arrival and use the cleaning products provided to wipe down ‘high touch’ areas, including self-service machines, with which they have been in contact
  • You may have to queue - the number of people in the libraries at any one time will be limited and customers are requested to restrict their visit to no longer than 30 minutes
  • Socially distanced public computers will be available for one hour slots.
  • Transparent ‘sneeze screens’ have been installed on all counters.
  • Items on the ‘returned books’ shelves will not be available until they have been quarantined for 72 hours.
  • Group activities will continue to be available online only.

We very much hope that recovery will continue and it won’t be long before we can return to unrestricted dwell time along with normal services and opening hours.

Artizan Street

We regret that in the last couple of weeks, serious problems with the ventilation systems at Shoe Lane and Artizan Street Libraries have developed. We are urgently chasing repairs but until the faults are rectified, those libraries have to remain closed for safety reasons. We will let you know when they reopen.


We suspended the reservation system more than a year ago and have now taken the decision to reinstate it. All loans are currently due on 2 June 2021 but after that date, if a book is reserved for another customer, it cannot be renewed and must be returned.

Returns and renewals

We have temporarily lifted the upper limit on renewals meaning you can renew items indefinitely for the time being, if you are not able to come and see us for a while. Do check back as this will change in future. We will contact our users who have provided email addresses to inform them of this.

If you have moved house and/or are not planning on visiting the City for some time, you can return items by post. Alternatively, you can continue to renew items online or by phone.

Online services

Have you tried our new eBook/eAudiobook service from Overdrive? If you downloaded any items from the previous RB Digital service, they will continue to be available to you until your loan expires.

Over the past year, our incredible staff have been working hard to provide you with library services wherever you are. They have also been running a contactless home delivery service for housebound and shielding residents, making regular wellbeing phone calls to residents to ensure they are keeping well as well as providing an ever-changing programme of online events for all the family, including our Dragon Café “Wellness Wednesdays”. Until we are allowed to welcome large groups back into our libraries, all of our library events will continue online. To find out what’s on, do check the library Online Events page.

Finally and on behalf of all Barbican and Community Libraries staff, we’ve really missed our customers and we’re look forward to welcoming you back. We hope to see you in the libraries very soon.