COVID-19: Libraries

From Monday 18 January 2021 Chelsea, Kensington Central and North Kensington libraries are offering a reduced service under the national lockdown stay at home measures, in line with Government guidance. Our opening hours will be reduced from this date for the next three weeks.

Our libraries will still be providing:

  • Select and collect services for collecting reservations and returning library items.
  • Access to computers for essential use.

There will be no access to other areas of the libraries including study spaces during this time. Brompton, Kensal and Notting Hill Gate libraries are still closed.

Opening hours

  • Chelsea Library: Monday to Saturday 10am to 4pm, and Sunday 1pm to 5pm
  • Kensington Central Library: Monday to Saturday 10am to 4pm
  • North Kensington Library: Monday to Saturday 10am to 4pm

Book renewals and returns

During library opening hours, you will be able to return books at returns boxes located near the entrance to the library. There is no need to join a queue to return books. You can also return books through the out-of-hours slots available at Kensington Central, and North Kensington libraries. Return dates for loan items have been extended and overdue fees have been suspended so you do not need to renew.

Returned items will be quarantined for 72 hours. Library items on loan will continue to be automatically renewed, there will be no overdue or reservation charges during this period and any account which has been suspended will be temporarily reinstated to ensure everyone can access the library items they need.

What safety measures will be in place?

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

Returned items will be quarantined for 72 hours. Library items on loan will continue to be automatically renewed, there will be no overdue charges.

  • Hand sanitiser at the entrance and in computer areas

  • Perspex screens at select-and-collect enquiry desks

  • Access to libraries is only for customers seated at a computer for a 1-hour time slot.

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

Computer use

Essential computer use is available, with social distancing measures, at our three open libraries:

  • Advanced bookings have been disabled
  • 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.

Online resources and virtual library

Our libraries service offers many free online resources which are available 24/7. Visit the online resources page to find out how you can study, learn, and engage with everything your library has to offer without leaving the house.

You can also access our virtual library through social media apps for book recommendations, online events and much more.

Home library service

Our Home Library Service delivers books and other reading materials to vulnerable residents. Do get in touch to see if you or someone you know can benefit from this service. Visit our Home Library Service website for further details.

Contact us

  • Call the library phone line on 020 7361 3993 which is open Monday to Friday, 9am and 6pm to speak with our library staff about books, events or technical support.

  • For general enquiries, call 020 7361 3010, or email

  • Local studies and archives will only be offering a remote enquiry service until further notice. For more information, please email