Getting ready to welcome our members, volunteers and friends back to the Society of Genealogists

We’re back! On Tuesday some of the SoG staff met back in the library to start preparations for welcoming our members, volunteers and friends back into the library.

Wearing our masks in consideration of each other, we were all delighted to meet in person rather than on video and Zoom and it was difficult not to hug – but social distancing rules prevailed. We had been a bit apprehensive about using public transport to travel in, BUT surprisingly we all found our trains into London and tubes and buses far from crowded. Thankfully my fellow travelers were wearing masks as instructed. My train into St Pancras which is usually jammed to sardine tin standards only had 5 people in my carriage and there were even fewer about me on my Circle Line tube to the Barbican.

 It felt odd not to have people about and the Society’s building looked sad and lonely and needs to have family historians back and using it.

First steps have been to space out the amount of reader and workspace we can make available and the good news is that we think we can use all our computers and film readers spaced out around the library. We will have deep cleaned everything and of course have hand sanitisers and wipes all around. The loos will be open so you can wash your hands and all hygiene guidance will be adhered to. There will be a cleaner in the building when we are open to make sure all surfaces stay clean and safe. Any books, documents, films or CDs etc. used during your visit will be quarantined for the suitable time afterwards so there will be trolleys about rather than return items to the shelves or cabinets straight away. There will be floor markers and signs reminding everyone of social distancing. Our maintenance team is erecting safety screens at reception and enquiry desks. We have marked out the common room safely, but we may have to ask people not to rush in all at once. Unfortunately, we won’t be making the fridge, microwave, vending machine, cups or kettles available so remember to bring a flask or water with you. (But still only in the common room!) The delis and sandwich bars in Goswell Road are open. The reception and lockers are a pinch point so there will likely be  one way and queuing systems in place here.

There is still a lot of physical work to bring this about. Deliveries are still coming in; wiring and patching needs to be done for the computers and readers so it will be a few weeks before all this is ready. To start off with and to ensure we can manage everything we will limit the numbers coming into the library by using an online timed  booking system. Announcement about that will be made shortly.

Thankfully during lockdown, a long trench was dug outside and a hole drilled through our really thick concrete walls (which took 7 hours of drilling apparently) as part of the first stage to improve fast cable internet into the library. Unfortunately, this made a bit of a mess with some kind of mud/cement  splashed up the walls and windows, but that’s all easy to clean up and we will. Hopefully, the second internal fixings will follow soon to improve our library's internet.

We’ll keep you updated with progress but rest assured – we miss you all

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