The City of Edinburgh Council is opening four more Edinburgh libraries on Monday as part of a phased plan allowing more access to community facilities.

The libraries at Craigmillar, Wester Hailes, Gilmerton and Drumbrae add to the list of libraries already open – Central, Fountainbridge, Stockbridge, McDonald Road, Newington and Kirkliston.

Members of the public are reminded that numbers are limited in the buildings due to the safety measures in place and they will need to book their visit in advance – this can be done online or by phoning the library. 

They will be open to browse and borrow books, use a public computer, apply for a National Entitlement Card (bus pass) or collect hearing aid batteries. Returning books and picking up free sanitary products will not require a booking. 

Social distancing measures are in place and wearing face coverings is mandatory.

The council agreed to use £200,000 of its reserves to reopen libraries and particularly those which feature on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation. Council officers had said that it was difficult to open libraries, and that a lot of work is entailed in making them Covid safe.

Craigmillar Library

Culture and Communities Convener Cllr Donald Wilson said: “We’ve had positive feedback from the public about our six libraries re-opening two months ago which is really good to hear. Opening four more libraries is the next step in their phased reopening. We have missed them and are working hard to get them back up and running and this is a good step forward. We look forward to opening the rest as soon as possible in the new year. 

“Libraries are invaluable resources for all our local communities. A library is not just a place to borrow books but an essential focal hub addressing the digital divide, access to literature and culture and as a point of communication and information. We should not underestimate their role in the communities of our city particularly for vulnerable groups. Can I also wish everyone a Merry Christmas but remember at this most difficult of times to stay safe.”

Culture and Communities Vice Convener Amy McNeese-Mechan said: “This year has obviously been really challenging for everyone and we really appreciate everyone’s support and patience as we gradually reopen our libraries as they are a lifeline for many of our citizens.

“The response from the public has been really positive despite services being limited due to current restrictions. This cautious approach demonstrates our commitment and recognition of the importance of public libraries in this, the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature.”