Coronavirus (COVID-19) update for libraries and archives

Keeping everyone safe and well during this difficult time is Cumbria County Council's priority and as such we recognise that Cumbria Libraries offer a vital service to many people and to their local communities.

With new and ever-changing national restrictions it is more important than ever to occupy our minds and have access to local support and services. Our libraries are key to this, particularly in some of our more rural and isolated areas, where branch libraries play a crucial role in the community.

Thanks to careful planning and investment by Cumbria County Council, a selection of our branch libraries will provide a COVID-safe environment where there really is 'something for everyone' - reopened to customers on or shortly after Wednesday 21 October.  

This follows the reopening of the county council's 6 main libraries (Carlisle LibraryPenrith LibraryWorkington LibraryWhitehaven LibraryKendal LibraryBarrow Library) in August.

The following libraries reopened with revised opening hours as follows:

The 3 archive centres reopen:


To protect the health and safety of library staff and customers, new Covid-secure measures are in place at all our libraries that are open to staff and / or the public.

Key changes include:

  • Hand sanitiser stations are located at entrances and exits and customers are advised to use them 
  • Signage and floor markings are in place to promote 2 metres social distancing and to help people find their way around safely 
  • Customers need to wear face coverings unless an exemption applies and library staff will be wearing Personal Protective Equipment 
  • Access to each library and its computers will be limited at first to allow library staff to safely manage the number of visitors 
  • Toilets and baby-changing facilities are temporarily closed to the public 
  • Fines incurred during our temporary closure will be waived until 31 December, so customers don't have to worry about returning overdue items immediately 
  • Any returned books, including those borrowed before lockdown, will be quarantined for 72 hours before going back into circulation.


Frequently Asked Questions

Extensive preparation has taken place to prepare the libraries before re-opening them. All buildings have been cleaned, screens have been fitted at staffed points. Hand sanitisers have been installed. Signs to remind customers about social distancing and how to move round the building have been put in place, and each library will have a capacity of people who can be in it at one time. Appropriate risk assessments have been carried out and acted on. Staff will have appropriate PPE. We will be keeping all these measures under review

Barrow 

10am to 1pm Monday to Friday 

Prearranged Select and Collect sessions will be available 2pm to 4pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday

 

Carlisle  

9.30am to 1pm Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday

1pm to 4.30pm Tuesday and Thursday 

Prearranged Select and Collect sessions will be available Monday, Wednesday Friday 2pm to 4pm

 

Kendal 

9.30am to 1pm Monday to Friday 

Prearranged Select and Collect sessions will be available 2pm to 4pm, Tuesday and Thursday

 

Penrith 

9.30am to 1pm Monday to Friday 

Prearranged Select and Collect sessions will be available 2pm to 4pm Monday to Friday

 

Whitehaven 

9.30am to 1pm Monday to Friday 

Prearranged Select and Collect sessions will be available 2pm to 4pm Monday to Friday

 

Workington 

9am to 1pm Monday, Wednesday, Friday 

1pm to 5pm Tuesday and Thursday 

Prearranged Select and Collect sessions will be available Monday, Wednesday Friday 2pm to 4pm

In addition to the 6 libraries being open, in Barrow, Carlisle, Kendal, Penrith, Whitehaven and Workington, a number of branch libraries are now open, each with their own revised opening times.  We will continue to review the situation in relation to the remaining libraries and will keep you updated as things progress.  In the meantime, we have a range of resources that can be accessed digitally or your library membership card can be used at any of our open libraries.

Yes. Please provide identification of you name and address. 

If you only want to use our digital online resources you can get instant membership online.

The mandatory wearing of face coverings will be extended to further indoor settings, including libraries, from 8 August.

Rather than wearing gloves, the public will be asked to sanitise their hands on entering and exiting the library.

As each library will have to restrict the number of people to allow social distancing, we would encourage you to restrict your visit to once per day and to ask people to only visit the library individually, unless they are with a carer.  We also ask you to restrict your visit to 30 minutes (unless you are using a PC where session times are limited to 45 minutes).

All libraries are asked to assist with the NHS Test and Trace programme; you will be asked for a name and contact number when you arrive.

You and your family are welcome to visit in household groups. Please note children aged 10 and under to be accompanied by an adult.  Like other areas of the library, the areas for children and young people have clear signage indicating flow and distance and where there have been changes to layout there may be are slightly fewer books. In order to reduce the potential for virus transmission, all toys and sensory resources have been removed for the time being.  Our Facebook pages often have filmed story times and singing sessions instead of in-library events.

Because of social distancing guidelines we have removed all chairs and tables. If you feel unwell and need to sit down please ask a member of staff who will be able to bring a chair for you. 

Public PCs are available, but numbers at each library have been reduced to ensure social distancing and we therefore recommend booking in advance directly with your local library (session times are limited to 45 minutes). There will be cleaning equipment available for user to clean the PCs before and after use. 

We advise you to book in advance in order to make sure you can access a PC as people dropping in may not be guaranteed a computer.  Please contact the appropriate library to book. 

You can use a PC for 45 minutes. Because of social distancing we have reduced the number of PCs available to the public so, in order to allow more people to access the PCs, we have reduced the time available per person.

Library contact details:

Barrow Library - 01229 407373  Email: barrow.library@cumbria.gov.uk

Carlisle Library - 01228 227321  Email: carlisle.library@cumbria.gov.uk

Kendal Library -  01539 713520  Email: kendal.library@cumbria.gov.uk

Penrith Library - 01768 812100   Email: penrith.library@cumbria.gov.uk

Whitehaven Library - 01946 506400  Email: whitehaven.library@cumbria.gov.uk

Workington Library -  01900 706177  Email: workington.library@cumbria.gov.uk

Photocopiers are only available in a limited number of libraries where they are coin operated. Unfortunately staff wont be able to give assistance.    Microfilm readers will not be available, nor will there be a scanning service at this time. 

We are not able to process Bus Pass applications but can give you a form to fill and give details of where to return it to. 

Parking Permits can be requested online or phone the Highways Hotline on 03003 032992 or by post at Parking Services, Cumbria County Council, PO Box 415, Carlisle, CA1 9GU


You can collect Hearing Aid batteries in person from the Library but we are unable to post them out. 

Toilets and baby changing facilities are not generally open to the public.

Drinks machines will not available and food and drink must not be brought into the library. 

We do not have a date yet when activities or drop-ins will start again, we will introduce our services gradually in line with the latest public health advice.  In the meantime, please see our library Facebook pages for digital versions of many of our regular children's sessions.

In the future we would hope to rearrange special events but we cannot guarantee this as the provider/ speaker (eg author events) may no longer be available. 


We are unable to give refunds at the moment as we are not handling cash. Please keep hold of your ticket and we will give a refund at a later date. 

As library authorities are only able to offer limited services, and due to the uncertainty surrounding local outbreaks, Findmypast have decided that they will keep home access in place until the end of September, when it will then be reviewed.

No, the request service is still suspended for the time being.


This service is available to people who are unable to visit the library because of mobility problems or ill health conditions and who have no one who can go to a library on their behalf.  For those library members who currently can't visit a main library in person, alternatively a friend or family member can collect a prepared selection of books from them using our Select and Collect service and we now are reopening branch libraries to provide wider access across the county.

Cumbria Library Service is currently not operating book drops or Library Links but is keeping the situation of these, often operated in conjunction with partner organisations, under review.

These 2 services are still suspended for the time being. Work is underway to return these services but it is being done in phases due to the health and safety and logistical challenges.

We are pleased to announce that Carlisle and Whitehaven Archive Centres will re-open to the public on Wednesday 21 October 2020 and Kendal Archive Centre on Wednesday 4 November 2020.

Due to the Covid-19 situation you will need to book an appointment to visit the Archive Centres. We also ask that you pre-order your document requests. 

More information on these changes can be found on our booking a visit page.  

Barrow Archive Centre will remain closed due to building works at Barrow Library and will reopen later in 2020.