SOMERSET'S libraries could be re-opened "as early as possible in July", according to the county council.

But it won’t be business as usual straightaway and the library buildings will look and feel quite different, as some processes temporarily change.

Social distancing measures will be in place and a ‘personal shopper’ service will be available as customers will not initially be able to browse.

Staff will be available to select items for customers based on popular titles, specific interests and favourite authors.

Other changes will mean:

•The reservations service will not be up and running straightaway;

•Staff will be unable to accept donations of books from customers until further notice;

•All items will have a standard four-week loan period;

•Library opening times will be slightly different (e.g. 10am-4pm)

•Hire charges for DVDs and Talking Books will be suspended;

•The service is also keen to reassure people that there will be no overdue charges as a result of items borrowed just before buildings closed on March 19 due to COVID-19;

•Internet access will be available for those who need it most and people will be asked to pre-book a session in advance.

Cllr David Hall, Somerset County Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for libraries' said: "In line with Government guidelines, we are carefully planning the gradual re-opening of buildings to ensure that we minimise the risks for both staff and customers.

"Almost 8,000 people responded to a recent survey which indicates a very encouraging level of interest and support from Somerset residents and we look forward to welcoming everyone back soon.

"We would still like to invite as many people as possible to download free books, audiobooks and even magazines, comics and newspapers."

Full details of which libraries are planned to open and when have not yet been finalised.

The Somerset Mobile Library Service should also be back on the road later in the year.