Coronavirus (COVID-19) update for libraries and archives

In line with the lifting of government restrictions, all of Cumbria's 6 main libraries and most branch libraries are now open with revised opening hours, providing a COVID-safe environment where there really is something for everyone.

This means that book browsing, borrowing and returns are available as well as the key services that they have continued to deliver throughout lockdown - select and collect, online services and home delivery services. Other essential services can also be accessed at your library, including adult education courses and registrars.

For digital access to services we are asking customers to book in advance for access to computers to ensure the best and safest service possible.

Our new safety measures 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 and a one-way system is in operation in some of our larger libraries 
  • Customers are required 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 45 minutes to allow library staff to safely manage the number of visitors
  • Toilets and baby-changing facilities are temporarily closed to the public
  • Items returned late will no longer incur any overdue charges
  • Any returned books, including those borrowed before lockdown, will be quarantined for 72 hours before going back into circulation

As well as our libraries services, Barrow, Carlisle, Kendal and Whitehaven Archive Centres will re-open to the public on Wednesday 14 April 2021. The new opening times are Wednesday to Friday from 9.30am to 1pm. Due to the Covid-19 situation those wishing to visit an Archive Centre will need to book an appointment. We also ask that you pre-order your document requests. Visit the Archives website for more information.


Services currently available from libraries:


Frequently Asked Questions

Our reopened libraries all have regular cleaning, perspex screens at staffed points with staff having appropriate PPE, and hand sanitisers available for customers. Layouts have been revised to enable social distancing and signage throughout will guide customers as to these safety measures. Each library has a capacity of people who can be in it at one time. We are keeping all these measures under review.

As each library has to restrict the number of people to allow social distancing, we would encourage you to restrict your visits 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 part of the NHS Test and Trace programme; you will be asked for a name and contact number when you arrive, or to scan the QR code. Please note that it is a legal requirement to wear a face covering (unless you possess an exemption).

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.

You and your family are welcome to visit in household groups. Children aged 10 and under must be accompanied by an adult.  Like other areas of the library, sections for children and young people have clear signage indicating flow and distance; adjustments to layout may mean there 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 and the need to reduce visit time to buildings, we have reduced the number of PCs available to the public and can only offer customers 45 minutes' access each day.

Photocopiers are only available in a limited number of libraries where they are coin operated and staff won't be able to give assistance.    Microfilm readers will not be available, and there won't 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 or arrange for someone to collect them for you using our Select and Collect service.

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. 

Activities or drop-ins remain suspended; 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 and other links to community information.

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, but, they are reviewing this on a monthly basis.

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.

Cumbria Library Service is working with the partner organisations who host Library Links to see when they can safely be reopened; some will reopen imminently but for others no dates can yet be given. Cumbria Library Service is currently not operating book drops.

Work is underway to return these services but it is being done in phases due to the health and safety and logistical challenges.

The Reading Group Loan Service team is working on an area by area basis, and they are currently contacting groups within each specific area, asking them if they would like to resume having collections of books. Book Groups are kindly requested not to contact the team directly and to wait for them to make contact with you.