Information for Public Libraries on Government regulations relating to COVID-19

Public Library Colleagues  this page is where you will find the latest Government information on COVID-19 that relates to local governments and public libraries.

All public library staff can keep up-to-date regarding Government directions and advice at https://www.wa.gov.au/government/covid-19-coronavirus

Your COVID Safety Plan should be updated as restrictions change.

The State Government has directed that cultural venues in Perth and Peel can reopen from 12.01am Saturday, 3 July 2021. Some restrictions still apply for Perth and Peel until 12.01am Monday, 12 July 2021.

The State Government has directed all public venues in Perth and Peel to close from 12:01am, Tuesday 29 June 2021 until 12.01am, Saturday 3 July, 2021. A map of the areas under this direction is available

All other public libraries in Western Australia should be open as normal, however they should expect delays in the receipt of materials from affected libraries.  

All public library staff can keep up-to-date regarding Government directions and advice at COVID-19 coronavirus: Latest updates.

The State Government has directed that businesses in Perth, Peel and the South West can reopen from 6:01pm Friday, 6 February 2021.

Some restrictions still apply for Perth and Peel until 12.01am Sunday, 14 February 2021.

All public library staff can keep up-to-date regarding Government directions and advice at COVID-19 coronavirus (www.wa.gov.au)

The template for COVID Safety Plans has not yet been updated.

The State Government has directed all public libraries in Perth, Peel and the South West to close from 6:00pm, 31 January 2021 until 6:00pm, 5 February 2021. A map of the areas under this direction is available. 

All other public libraries in Western Australia should be open as normal, however they should expect delays in the receipt of materials from affected libraries. State Library is seeking information from suppliers for selecting libraries that receive stock directly. 

All public library staff can keep up-to-date regarding Government directions and advice at COVID-19 coronavirus: Latest updates.

State Library’s Plan and Certificate (last page of document) are examples of what has to be available before you open to the public. Your local government is responsible for approving your Plan. The State Library’s Certificate is displayed at the entrance of the Library and the Plan is available on our website and printed copies at our Welcome Desk.

From 5 December 2020, all local governments are required to keep registers of all visitors over the age of 16 to public library premises (including patrons, staff, volunteers and contractors). Further information about registers can be found at - https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/covid-communications/covid-19-coronavirus-contact-registers.

You should seek advice from your local government regarding what arrangements you should be putting in place for your public library premises. 

Your COVID Safety Plan should be updated. Further information about Plans is available at:  - https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-the-premier-and-cabinet/covid-19-coronavirus-business-and-industry-advice. Please note, at 1 December 2020 an updated template had not yet been made available. Regularly check for an updated template.

Physical distancing, good hygiene practices and guidelines should be maintained. Further information is available at - https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-the-premier-and-cabinet/covid-19-coronavirus-advice-community-service-providers.

Previous advice provided to public libraries is now outdated and provided below only in the context of a timeline of advice from government.

26 June 2020: COVID Safety Factsheet – Further information for Public Libraries - Phase 4 (27 June 2020)

The Western Australian Government has implemented a staged lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and developed guidelines to assist businesses and community activities to reopen or recommence.

Safety requirements and accompanying guidance to reopen are contained in the COVID Safety Guidelines Phase 4

A local government that operates a public library that was required to close under Directions made under the Emergency Management Act and not yet reopened, is required to complete a COVID Safety Plan and display a COVID Safety Certificate before reopening.

Libraries that have reopened are required to revise their COVID Safety Plan in line with Phase 4 Guidelines. You may be able to increase your premises’ capacity which should be reflected on your COVID Safety Plan Certificate.

This applies to all public libraries including joint-use and co-located services (including libraries in Community Resource Centres). If your local government has more than one library service point, you must prepare a COVID Safety Plan for each library before reopening.

The purpose of this document is to outline further considerations specifically for the reopening of public library services and should be read in conjunction with the above COVID Safety Guidelines and COVID Safety Plan.

Other considerations

Physical and social distancing:

  • In instances where physical distancing may not be possible, physical barriers like Perspex screens may reduce exposure between staff and patrons. The effectiveness of such measures against COVID-19 is still not known, therefore, these screens will be more effective when used in combination with good hand hygiene and regular cleaning.

Library materials handling:

  • Self-checkout machines will help to minimise the handling of library materials by more than one person and clients should be encouraged to use them where available.
  • Local governments should decide what materials safe handling practices are implemented including if materials will be quarantined after use:
    • Gloves may be used by staff to handle materials.
    • DVDs and other materials with plastic covers may be wiped down after each use.
    • Paper based products (books, newspapers, magazines) may be left untouched in a dedicated quarantine area for at least 24 hours prior to handling and recirculating.

Hygiene considerations:

  • Ensure thorough and regular cleaning of common surfaces, ‘high touch’ items and shared amenities e.g. computers, equipment, self-check machines, trolleys, door handles, tables, chairs and toilets.
  • Remove communal items where possible e.g. soft toys, games, play equipment and stationery items.
  • Ensure your library has the appropriate cleaning products and equipment to perform cleaning and disinfection (detergent, disinfectant, sanitiser, wipes).
  • Toilets and water dispensers within library premises can be made available to patrons. Increased cleaning regimes should be put in place.

Additional information on cleaning is available from the WA Heath website, these include:

Group activities:

  • For group activities, like Story Time and Baby Rhyme Time, it is recommended good practice physical distancing principles are applied including:
  • maintain a minimum of 2 square metres (2sqm) per person; and
  • maintain physical distancing between people who are not from the same household.
  • Joint-use libraries should do a risk assessment with their school to determine if class groups will be able to visit the library.

Food businesses within libraries:

  • If the library includes a café or other food service arrangement, there are specific requirements that must be met.  The COVID Safety Guidelines: Food and Licensed Venues (Phase 4) outlines the mandatory conditions on the re-opening of food businesses, or where food businesses are expanding beyond takeaway only.

Appendix A – Checklist: Additional items for public libraries to consider prior to reopening

To be read in conjunction with the checklists contained the COVID Safety Guidelines and COVID Safety Plan.

Physical distancing

  • How are you implementing good practice physical distancing principles during group activities like Story Time and Baby Rhyme Time?
  • If you are a joint-use library, have you done a risk assessment with your school before you allow class visits?

Library Materials handling

  • Reinforce with staff and patrons the use of self-checkout machines for circulation of library materials.
  • Ensure your library has the appropriate cleaning products and equipment (gloves and wipes).
  • Decide if materials will be quarantined after use. If so:
    • Ensure there is a process for quarantining returned library materials and those used within the library.
    • Have you set aside an area in the library for the quarantine of materials?

Hygiene considerations

  • Ensure thorough and regular cleaning of common surfaces, ‘high touch’ items and shared amenities e.g. computers, equipment, self-check machines, trolleys, door handles, tables, chairs and toilets.
  • Have communal items been removed where possible? E.g. Soft toys, games, play equipment, public water dispensers and stationery items.
  • Ensure your library has the appropriate cleaning products and equipment to perform cleaning and disinfection (detergent, disinfectant, sanitiser, wipes).

26 June 2020: COVID Safety Plan and Certificate (Phase 4 - 27 June 2020)

State Library’s Plan and Certificate (last page of document) are examples of what has to be available before you open to the public. Your local government is responsible for approving your Plan. The State Library’s Certificate is displayed at the entrance of the Library and the Plan is available on our website and printed copies at our Welcome Desk.

17 June 2020: COVID Safety Factsheet – Further information for Public Libraries - Phase 3 (6 June 2020) - updated 17 June 2020

The Department of Health are no longer making the linked document Infection prevention and control Advice for libraries offering home delivery services available. Links to this document have been removed from the COVID Safety Factsheet.

04/06/2020: COVID Safety Plan and Certificate (Phase 3 - 6 June 2020)

State Library’s Plan and Certificate (last page of document) are examples of what has to be available before you open to the public. Your local government is responsible for approving your Plan. The State Library’s Certificate is displayed at the entrance of the Library and the Plan is available on our website and printed copies at our Welcome Desk.

3 June 2020: COVID Safety Factsheet  – Further information for Public Libraries - Phase 3 (6 June 2020)

The Western Australian Government has implemented a staged lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and developed guidelines to assist businesses and community activities to reopen or recommence.

Safety requirements and accompanying guidance to reopen are contained in the COVID Safety Guidelines (Phase 3).

A local government that operates a public library that was required to close under Directions made under the Emergency Management Act and not yet reopened, is required to complete a COVID Safety Plan and display a COVID Safety Certificate before reopening.

This applies to all public libraries including joint-use and co-located services (including libraries in Community Resource Centres). If your local government has more than one library service point, you must prepare a COVID Safety Plan for each library before reopening.

Any public library that opened in Phase 2 (since 18 May 2020) should review the new guidelines and update their COVID Safety Plan accordingly. You may be able to increase your premises’ capacity which should be reflected on your COVID Safety Plan Certificate.

The purpose of this document is to outline further considerations specifically for the reopening of public library services and should be read in conjunction with the above COVID Safety Guidelines and COVID Safety Plan.

Other considerations

Physical and social distancing:

  • In instances where physical distancing may not be possible, physical barriers like Perspex screens may reduce exposure between staff and patrons. The effectiveness of such measures against COVID-19 is still not known, therefore, these screens will be more effective when used in combination with good hand hygiene and regular cleaning.

Library materials handling:

  • Self-checkout machines will help to minimise the handling of library materials by more than one person and clients should be encouraged to use them where available.
  • Gloves should be used by staff to handle materials when moving collections into quarantine and removed afterwards.
  • Paper based products (books, newspapers, magazines) should be left untouched in a dedicated quarantine area for at least 24 hours prior to handling and recirculating.
  • DVDs and other materials with plastic covers can be wiped down after each use.
  • The Department of Health’s Infection prevention and control Advice for libraries offering home delivery services provides helpful information on safe library materials handling. (document no longer available, link removed 17 June 2020).

Hygiene considerations:

  • Ensure thorough and regular cleaning of common surfaces, ‘high touch’ items and shared amenities e.g. computers, equipment, self-check machines, trolleys, door handles, tables, chairs and toilets.
  • Remove communal items where possible e.g. soft toys, games, play equipment and stationery items.
  • Ensure your library has the appropriate cleaning products and equipment to perform cleaning and disinfection (detergent, disinfectant, sanitiser, wipes).
  • Toilets within library premises can be made available to patrons. Increased cleaning regimes should be put in place.
  • Water dispensers should be switched off where possible and notices posted advising patrons that due to the health risk this is unavailable.

Additional information on cleaning is available from the WA Heath website, these include:

Group activities:

  • For group activities, like Story Time and Baby Rhyme Time, it is recommended good practice physical distancing principles are applied including:
  • maintain 1.5 metre separation between people who are not from the same household; and
  • maintain a minimum of 2 square metres (2sqm) per person 
  • Joint-use libraries should do a risk assessment with their school to determine if class groups will be able to visit the library.

Food businesses within libraries:

  • If the library includes a café or other food service arrangement, there are specific requirements that must be met.  The COVID Safety Guidelines: Food and Licensed Venues (Phase 3) outlines the mandatory conditions on the re-opening of food businesses, or where food businesses are expanding beyond takeaway only.

Appendix A – Checklist: Additional items for public libraries to consider prior to reopening

To be read in conjunction with the checklists contained the COVID Safety Guidelines and COVID Safety Plan.

Physical distancing

  • How are you implementing good practice physical distancing principles during group activities like Story Time and Baby Rhyme Time?
  • If you are a joint-use library, have you done a risk assessment with your school before you allow class visits?

Library Materials handling

  • Reinforce with staff and patrons the use of self-checkout machines for circulation of library materials.
  • Ensure there is a process for quarantining returned library materials and those used within the library.
  • Have you set aside an area in the library for the quarantine of materials?
  • Ensure your library has the appropriate cleaning products and equipment for materials handling (gloves and wipes).

Hygiene considerations

  • Ensure thorough and regular cleaning of common surfaces, ‘high touch’ items and shared amenities e.g. computers, equipment, self-check machines, trolleys, door handles, tables, chairs and toilets.
  • Have communal items been removed where possible? E.g. Soft toys, games, play equipment, public water dispensers and stationery items.
  • Ensure your library has the appropriate cleaning products and equipment to perform cleaning and disinfection (detergent, disinfectant, sanitiser, wipes).

15 May 2020: COVID Safety Factsheet – Further information for Public Libraries - Phase 2 (18 May 2020)

The Western Australian Government has implemented a staged lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and developed guidelines to assist businesses and community activities to reopen or recommence.

Safety requirements and accompanying guidance to reopen are contained in the COVID Safety Guidelines.

A local government that operates a public library that was required to close under Directions made under the Emergency Management Act is required to complete a COVID Safety Plan and display a COVID Safety Certificate before reopening.

This applies to all public libraries including joint-use and co-located services (including libraries in Community Resource Centres). If your local government has more than one library service point, you must prepare a COVID Safety Plan for each library.

The purpose of this document is to outline further considerations specifically for the reopening of public library services and should be read in conjunction with the above COVID Safety Guidelines and COVID Safety Plan.

Other considerations

Physical and social distancing:

  • In instances where social distancing may not be possible, physical barriers like Perspex screens may reduce exposure between staff and patrons. The effectiveness of such measures against COVID-19 is still not known, therefore, these screens will be more effective when used in combination with good hand hygiene and regular cleaning.

Library materials handling:

  • Self-checkout machines will help to minimise the handling of library materials by more than one person and clients should be encouraged to use them where available.
  • Gloves should be used by staff to handle materials when moving collections into quarantine and removed afterwards.
  • Paper based products (books, newspapers, magazines) should be left untouched in a dedicated quarantine area for at least 24 hours prior to handling and recirculating.
  • DVDs and other materials with plastic covers can be wiped down after each use.
  • The Department of Health’s Infection prevention and control Advice for libraries offering home delivery services provides helpful information on safe library materials handling (document no longer available, link removed 17 June 2020).

Hygiene considerations:

  • Ensure thorough and regular cleaning of common surfaces, ‘high touch’ items and shared amenities e.g. computers, equipment, self-check machines, trolleys, door handles, tables, chairs and toilets.
  • Remove communal items where possible e.g. soft toys, games, play equipment and stationery items.
  • Ensure your library has the appropriate cleaning products and equipment to perform cleaning and disinfection (detergent, disinfectant, sanitiser, wipes).
  • Toilets within library premises can be made available to patrons. Increased cleaning regimes should be put in place.
  • Water dispensers should be switched off where possible and notices posted advising patrons that due to the health risk this is unavailable.

Additional information on cleaning is available from the WA Heath website, these include:

Group activities:

  • For group activities, like Story Time and Baby Rhyme Time, it is recommended good practice physical distancing principles are applied including: maintain 1.5 metre separation between people who are not from the same household; and maintain a minimum of 4 square metres (4sqm) per person 
  • Joint-use libraries should do a risk assessment with their school to determine if class groups will be able to visit the library.

Food businesses within libraries:

  • If the library includes a café or other food service arrangement, there are specific requirements that must be met.  The COVID-19 Safety Guidelines for Food Businesses outlines the mandatory conditions on the re-opening of food businesses, or where food businesses are expanding beyond takeaway only.

Appendix A – Checklist: Additional items for public libraries to consider prior to reopening

To be read in conjunction with the checklists contained the COVID Safety Guidelines and COVID Safety Plan.

Physical and social distancing

  • How are you implementing good practice physical distancing principles during group activities like Story Time and Baby Rhyme Time?
  • If you are a joint-use library, have you done a risk assessment with your school before you allow class visits?

Library Materials handling

  • Reinforce with staff and patrons the use of self-checkout machines for circulation of library materials.
  • Ensure there is a process for quarantining returned library materials and those used within the library.
  • Have you set aside an area in the library for the quarantine of materials?
  • Ensure your library has the appropriate cleaning products and equipment for materials handling (gloves and wipes).

Hygiene considerations

  • Ensure thorough and regular cleaning of common surfaces, ‘high touch’ items and shared amenities e.g. computers, equipment, self-check machines, trolleys, door handles, tables, chairs and toilets.
  • Have communal items been removed where possible? E.g. Soft toys, games, play equipment, public water dispensers and stationery items.
  • Ensure your library has the appropriate cleaning products and equipment to perform cleaning and disinfection (detergent, disinfectant, sanitiser, wipes).

14 May 2020: Message from the State Librarian – Margaret Allen

Good afternoon colleagues

I would like to draw your attention to the COVID Safety Guidelines and COVID Safety Plan that has been released by government this afternoon. 

Public Libraries were closed by Directions under the Emergency Management Act and so must complete a COVID Safety Plan before reopening and display a COVID Safety Plan Certificate in a visible location on the library premises.

Further information is available at ww.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-the-premier-and-cabinet/covid-19-coronavirus-business-and-industry-advice#covid-safety-plan

This is particularly important for libraries who intend to reopen their premises from Monday 18th.

This is a generic set of guidelines and safety plan which will enable libraries to meet the legal requirements to reopen in the absence of a specific set of guidelines for libraries.  SLWA will be using these to support our reopening on Monday 18th May at 9am.

Should you have any specific questions regarding the attached, how this applies to libraries and your reopening please contact the help desk public.libraries@slwa.wa.gov.au or by phone: 08 9427 3219.

Last updated on 16 September 2021