Four of Barnet’s libraries have reopened as the coronavirus lockdown eases – but people cannot yet browse the shelves.

The libraries are instead running a ‘select and collect’ service that allows residents to let staff know in advance what they would like to borrow before picking it up.

People can call, email or go online and specify exactly what they want to borrow or give information about what they like to read, watch or listen to, and staff will put together a selection based on their preferences.

Select and collect is currently available at Barnet’s four ‘core plus’ libraries: Chipping Barnet, Colindale, Edgware and Finchley Church End. The borough’s remaining libraries remain closed for the time being.

Barnet Council is also operating a home library service to take books to vulnerable residents who are unable to make it to one of the four core plus libraries. Details are available here.

Towards the end of July, the library service is planning to re-introduce pre-booked access to PCs in Chipping Barnet, Colindale, Edgware and Finchley Church End libraries.

Digital library services are still operating, and more services will be reintroduced in phases over the coming months, providing it is safe to do so.

This year’s summer reading challenge – Silly Squad – will be an online event.

Cllr Reuben Thompstone (Conservative, Golders Green), chairman of the community leadership and libraries committee, said: “I’m very pleased that our new ‘select and collect’ service is up and running for residents as we start to re-introduce our library services. It allows people the opportunity to borrow hard copies of books from our collection, along with CDs and DVDs, and it is already proving extremely popular.

“For vulnerable residents not able to use our select and collect service, we have a home library service delivering direct to residents.

“The safety of our library users and staff is paramount, so the re-introduction of more services will be a gradual one and I would like to thank people for their patience.

“As always, we have a huge array of e-books, e-audiobooks and thousands of other publications on offer digitally, all available at the touch of a button. Our libraries team has also done a fantastic job of moving events online and I would encourage parents to take a look at the summer reading challenge which has gone virtual this year.

“To keep up to date on the latest information about which services are on offer, people can visit”