Key Council services including libraries set to reopen

Central library

A number of key Council services, including libraries, community centres and galleries, will shortly reopen following the move to Level 3 in Scotland earlier this week.

Plans have been developed to prioritise the reopening of these venues in line with the Scottish Government’s current guidance and route map out of lockdown.

Services resuming include:

  • Three libraries reopening on Monday (3 May) with a further six in the coming weeks (full details below)
  • The City Art Centre will open on 15 May with four free summer exhibitions scheduled
  • Outdoor extra-curricular activities in schools restarted this week
  • Edinburgh Leisure centres are now open for individual exercise, including gyms, swimming pools, indoor court hire, racquet sports and children's coaching, with outdoor contact sports for 12 to 17-year-olds and community access to high school sports facilities also restarted.

We’re also working closely with Community Centre Management Committees to decide what services are able to operate from the centres and when.

We’ll be following the latest Scottish Government and health guidance to make sure all venues are safe to reopen. Our first priority thus far has been ensuring our schools could reopen safely for our young people and staff but strict cleaning regimes and other measures will be in place to ensure the safety of everyone visiting venues or taking part in activities.

Culture and Communities Convener, Councillor Donald Wilson, said:

It’s great to see our first libraries reopening their doors next week with more to follow in May as part of our plans for a gradual reopening of community amenities across the city.

This phased reopening, which will also see the City Art Centre welcome back visitors, community centres offering essential services like youth work and Edinburgh Leisure venues up and running again, is the first step in our gradual and careful emergence from lockdown.

Our libraries are invaluable resources for local communities as there’s so much more to a library than just borrowing books. They are trusted and much-loved hub buildings which strengthen local communities and are essential for the wellbeing of our citizens. Libraries are a vital requirement in any democratic society, giving access to knowledge and literature, helping to bridge the digital divide and supporting literacy.

Culture and Communities Vice Convener Cllr Amy McNeese-Mechan said:

We really appreciate everyone’s support and patience as we gradually start to welcome people back into their much-loved local spaces like our libraries, community centres and sports venues. I’m sure everyone will fully appreciate that our top priority remains the health of our citizens and staff.

I’m particularly delighted that our libraries are able to begin reopening, especially here in the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, but also that the City Art Centre is able to open with four fantastic new – and free – exhibitions for our residents to enjoy as they take their first steps back towards normality.


Central, Drumbrae, and Kirkliston will be open this Monday (3 May) followed by Craigmillar, Fountainbridge, McDonald Road and Stockbridge (10 May). Wester Hailes will reopen on 17 May and Gilmerton on 24 May. It is hoped that the remaining libraries will open again as soon as possible after these dates.

Residents are reminded that numbers will be limited in the buildings due to the safety measures in place and visits will need to be booked in advance – this can be done online or by phoning the library.

The buildings will be open by appointment for browsing and borrowing books, using computers and the internet, processing bus passes (National Entitlement Cards) or collecting hearing aid batteries. Returning books and picking up free sanitary products will not require a booking.

Social distancing measures will be in place and wearing face coverings is mandatory.

Museums and Galleries

The City Art Centre will open on 15 May with two new exhibitions –Bright Shadows: Scottish Art in the 1920s and Charles H. Mackie: Colour and Light. Two further exhibitions are planned Marine: Ian Hamilton Finlay (22 May) and Islander: The paintings of Donald Smith following a week later. All exhibitions are free.

Plans are being finalised for the reopening of other galleries and museums. Updates regarding reopening dates and measures in place to keep everyone safe will be published as soon as possible.

Community centres

We’re contacting all Community Centre Management Committees this week to provide support in re-establishing essential services such as youth work. As was the case before lockdown, processes are in place to allow them to identify services they want to resume and any support required to do so.

Extracurricular activities (ECA)

Outdoor ECA resumed in schools on 26 April and include activities such as sport, drama, dance music and art.

Indoor ECA aren’t currently permitted under the guidance but we’re considering their resumption alongside the need to maintain the strict cleaning regimes currently operating in our schools as the safety of our pupils and staff remains our priority.

Edinburgh Leisure

Outdoor contact sports for 12–17-year-olds started back on 5 April and community access to high school sports facilities on 19 April. Tennis courts and golf courses have been open since June 2020 with golf, in particular, seeing an upswing in participation (winter golf membership up 400%, year-on-year).

Leisure centres are now open for individual exercise, including gyms, swimming pools, indoor court hire, racquet sports and children's coaching. It is hoped that outdoor adult contact sport and indoor group exercise can restart on 17 May, with indoor non-contact sport following in early June (as per Scottish Government’s current route map).

Published: April 28th 2021