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All our libraries are open as usual from December 4 for browsing, borrowing and computer use. We’ve missed you during the recent lockdown and can’t wait to welcome you back.

This short film gives you an idea of what to expect when you visit us.

Opening times will vary, with shorter than normal hours at some places and all libraries closing by 5pm. Click here for all our opening times.

Most libraries will have computer access, but Covid-19 restrictions mean that we can’t provide this at New Earswick or Dunnington.


The Archive at York Explore re-opens from Monday 7 December.

Find out more about visiting the Archive.

Events and Activities

Our events programme is all online at the moment and we have an exciting programme planned – find out more or sign up for regular updates and booking information.


Explore’s reading cafés in Hungate and Rowntree Park are open for drinks and snacks to take away or eat inside from 2 December. Our reading cafes at Explore Centres all re-open from 4 December.

Your Safety

All our venues have safety measures in place to protect customers and staff.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to return my books immediately now you have re-opened?

All items on loan will be renewed automatically until 8 January 2021 so you don’t have to worry about overdue charges.

How are libraries and reading cafes affected now York is in Tier 2?

All our sites are operating as usual. We have Covid safety measures in place so that you can feel confident when you visit.

Will I need to wear a face covering to use the library/reading cafe?

Following government advice, we are asking you to wear a facemask while visiting libraries. You’ll need a face covering when collecting books or while using public PCs or using other services. Please come prepared with your face covering as you will not be able to use our services without one. Face coverings are not required in our reading cafes.

How do I borrow books?

All our libraries are open from December 4 for you to drop in and browse and borrow books.

Is there a charge for reserving books?

We will reintroduce the reservation charge once all libraries have re-opened for browsing.

How do I return books?

You can return books as normal from 4 December.

Can I use a public computer/printer?

Computers and printing are available for pre-booked slots up to 7 days in advance. You can book online or contact your nearest library by phone or email for an appointment. Please be aware that computer access is not available at New Earswick or Dunnington due to social distancing requirements.

My York Card has expired – how do I get a new one?

York Card partner attractions have been asked to accept cards up to 3 months beyond the expiry date printed on the back. To buy a new York Card please visit your nearest library (you can use a credit card at Explore centres, but it’s cash only at the smaller libraries)

Is the Archives and Local History Service open?

The Local and Family History rooms at York Explore will be open, but you will need to book to reserve study space. The Archives reading room re-opens for pre-booked appointments.

Can I hire a meeting room?

Yes – you can book meeting rooms

When can I browse the books again?

From 4 December we will re-open all libraries for browsing with social distancing in place.

Is your Home Library Service still running?

Our Home Library Service is slightly different as we are not able to enter people’s homes, but we can reserve and select books for you and arrange to have them delivered to your doorstep at a pre-arranged time. Find out more information about the Home Library Service.

Can I donate my unwanted books to the library?

At present we are unable to accept any donations of books that are not new as we don’t have the space or staff capacity to quarantine them and add them to stock. Watch this space though – if you have had a good sort out of your books during lockdown we would love the ones in perfect condition, we just need you to hold onto them for a bit longer. Here is a link to information about donating books.

Can we borrow books for our reading group again?

In brief yes you can, but please see our reading groups page for full information.

How do I get replacement batteries for my hearing aid?

You can drop in to pick up replacement hearing aid batteries from Acomb, York and Tang Hall libraries.

What safety measures have you put in place?

Government guidelines require us to implement a number of new health and safety practices in our libraries and cafes. Here are some of the changes we have made to keep you and our staff safe now and when we re-open fully.

  • All returned books are left in a decontamination zone for 72 hours. When you search for a book on a library catalogue, this will show in the location field as ‘in quarantine’ for those books that have just been returned. You can still request a book at this point but it will only be supplied to you after the quarantine period has ended. We’ve installed hand sanitizer stations at the entrances and exits of all our buildings.
  • We have social distancing measures in place and signs up to remind people to keep apart. We’ve re-spaced public computers to enable social distancing.
  • We’ve set up cleaning zones for you to clean screens and equipment before use.
  • We’ll have systems inside and outside our buildings to ensure safe queuing and social distancing.
  • We’ll encourage cashless payments wherever possible.
  • We’ve introduced more frequent cleaning in cafés and toilets.
  • All buildings and spaces will have a maximum number allowed in at one time.
  • We’ve introduced sneeze screens on our reception desks

You can read our detailed risk assessments for re-opening libraries and cafes.

You opened too early it’s still not safe / Why didn’t you just reopen everything as normal on 6 July?

We make our decisions based on government guidance and on the experience of international library services who are further along the post lock-down road than the UK. We have also shared learning and plans with other UK librarians, and sectors such as retail and education.

We know that many people are dependent on libraries for many reasons, such as computer access and learning needs, and we have a duty to support public access to these services.

All our recovery plans are subject to ongoing revision and review.