COVID-19: Libraries

Kensington and Chelsea’s libraries welcome back residents

North Kensington Library, Kensington Central Library and Chelsea Library are open with heightened hygiene and social distancing measures in place to ensure visitors can safely enjoy all that our libraries have to offer.

Visitors to the libraries will be asked to observe the Government’s guidelines on social distancing, keeping two metres apart wherever possible and a minimum of one metre apart when further distancing isn’t possible.

Please note: Brompton, Kensal and Notting Hill Gate libraries are still closed.


Opening hours

  • North Kensington Library: Mondays to Fridays 10am to 6pm and Saturdays 9.30am to 5pm
  • Kensington Central Library: Mondays to Fridays 10am to 6pm and Saturdays 9.30am to 5pm
  • Chelsea Library: Mondays to Fridays 10am to 6pm; Saturdays 9.30am to 5pm and Sundays 1pm to 5pm


What safety measures will be in place?

  • hand sanitiser at the entrance and in other key areas of the libraries
  • perspex screens at enquiry desks
  • floor marking to direct flow and aid with social distancing 
  • limit on visitor numbers at any one time, with a clicker ensuring a safe number of visitors are inside at any given time.


Face coverings

Following Government’s guidelines, library visitors are now be required to wear a face covering on entering our libraries.

All visitors, apart from children under 11 and those who have reasonable cause should wear a face mask, scarf or other covering. Not all exemptions are visible, so please be understanding of other library visitors.


NHS Test and Trace       

We are now participating in the NHS Test and Trace. Our customers are the heart of our service and we want you to enjoy summer safely. In order to help reduce the risk of a local outbreak of Coronavirus we are encouraging customers to give their contact details when entering our premises.

In line with guidance issued by the Government, we will keep your details for 21 days. We will only share them with NHS Test and Trace, if asked, in the event of someone who has been in the library testing positive for Coronavirus. Please help us keep our customers, staff and the wider community safe by cooperating.


What will be available?

Browsing and borrowing will be available to customers and all returned items will be quarantined for 72 hours. If you would like to return your library items when our libraries are closed, there is an out of hours book drop available at the rear of Kensington Central Library.

You will be able to use a computer and access the internet in Chelsea and North Kensington Libraries. Kensington Central Library will not be offering access to computers until further notice, as the first floor will remain closed for structural repair.

There will be no physical events on offer and onsite reading of printed newspapers and magazines will be unavailable, but these can be accessed via our eResources. This is part of our virtual offer, which we will continue offering. More information on the libraries virtual offer, plus other fun and useful online resources, are available on the @RBKCLibraries Twitter account.

Local studies and archives will only be offering a remote enquiry service until further notice. For more information, please email us at: or telephone 0207 361 3038.


Our library members can now reserve books and other items from our libraries via our online reservation system. Reservations can be placed online via our library catalogue website or in person at our libraries. For more information, please speak to a member of staff or email us at:

Please note: The first floor of Kensington Central Library is currently closed until further notice for essential maintenance.


Study spaces at Chelsea Library

We now have study spaces available at Chelsea Library.  

Due to social distancing, we have made some changes to our study spaces to ensure safe access to as many of our library customers as possible.

Please note:

  • you will only be permitted to use a study space once you have been issued a wrist band
  • you must leave the study space promptly at the end of your time slot to allow our cleaners time to sanitise the tables and chairs
  • wrist bands will only be issued 10 minutes before each available slot

Slots available:

Monday to FridaySaturdaySunday
10am to 12 noon9.30am to 11.30am1pm to 3pm
12.15pm to 2.15pm11.45am to 1.45pm3.15pm to 4.45pm
2.30pm to 4.30pm2pm to 4.45pm 
4.45pm to 5.45pm  


Biography Collection and Reference Store at Kensington Central Library

If you require a book from the library’s biography collection, please email us at:

Books will be collected by library staff from the store twice a day at 12 noon and 5pm(4pm on Saturdays). Please ask at the enquiry desk for your books. Unfortunately books cannot be retrieved from the Reference Store until further notice.


Where are the three reopened libraries?

  • North Kensington Library: 108 Ladbroke Grove, W11 1PZ
  • Kensington Central Library: 12 Phillimore Walk, W8 7RX (opposite Kensington Town Hall)
  • Chelsea Library: Chelsea Old Town Hall, King's Road, SW3 5EZ

If you have any more questions about the reopening of libraries in Kensington and Chelsea, please email us at: or call us on tel: 020 7361 3993.

To stay up to date with the latest news from our libraries, follow @RBKCLibraries on Twitter.


Online resources

Our libraries service offers many free online resources, for when our libraries are closed or you can’t get out to visit us, which we are extending to provide a wider range of classes, workshops, and interactive experiences. Just visit the Online resources page to find out more about how you can study, learn, and engage with everything your library has to offer without leaving the house.

You can also call our customer helpline 020 7361 3993, Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, to speak with our librarians about books, events or technical support.


Home library service

Our Home Library Service delivers books and other reading materials to vulnerable residents and to the vulnerable shielded group who have been identified and contacted by the NHS. You can get in touch to see if you or someone you know can benefit from this service.


Computer use

Regular computer use is available (with social distancing measures) at two of our open libraries.

  • computers are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between each use and are cleaned at the end of each day
  • a two metre distance will be kept between all staff and visitors and computer desks are spaced at least two metres apart
  • all computer usage will be monitored by staff to ensure these rules are adhered to


Contact us