Libraries, archives and museums across Lancashire are to close in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The closure will come into effect from 5pm on Monday, March 23 to allow library users the opportunity to get books out before they close. The mobile library service will also close from Monday.
However, council officials vowed to do all they can to maintain as many of the libraries' services as possible.
County Coun Peter Buckley, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for community and cultural services, said: “We have not taken this decision lightly, but it is the right thing to do for the people of Lancashire.
“Up until Monday, you can still visit the library and borrow as many books as you need during this difficult period. The loan limit will also be increased to 30 titles.
“During the time that libraries are closed, Lancashire’s library members will still be able to download eBooks and audiobooks using BorrowBox, which is available at any time.
“We will also continue to provide a home library service – but will have more details on how this will work next week.”
County Coun Geoff Driver CBE, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “We are sorry to have to take these measures due to the COVID19 outbreak but I’m sure residents will agree it is in the best interests of the people of Lancashire and our staff.
“We will of course keep everyone updated about when we can reopen these services.”
No customers will be charged for the late return of any items during the period that the libraries are closed. Customers will not be required to renew their items during this period. Library users are being asked to hold onto their books and not try to post them through letter boxes or leave them outside libraries.
Some libraries and mobile library routes have been forced to close already, so please check locally.
The authority has urged people to use the BorrowBox application allowing library members to download eBooks and audiobooks. It has a wide ranging and extensive collection of around 8,000 eBooks and 5,000 audiobooks.
It includes a dedicated eBook reader and audiobook player and can be installed on mobile devices for free. Using this app, people can browse, download and read items 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The app is available for Apple and Android phones, tablets and Kindle Fire. The service can also be accessed on a PC or laptop.
A County Hall spokesman said: "We have an extensive range of online reference sources in our Digital Library which can be accessed for free using your library membership number. Included are resources for homework, study and research including The Times Digital Archive, NewsBank, Oxford Music Online, World Book Online."
The service Ask a librarian, where librarians staff a web-based enquiry service on Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm will continue. Out of those hours you can submit a question and they try to get back to you the next working day.
The archives service is also closing, from 5pm on March 20.
Lancashire Archives intends to offer a remote archive service. They will be able to answer most enquiries and intend to keep the copying service going for as long as possible. Information will be on the website, and the online catalogue, LANCAT, will still be available. Many Lancashire parish registers are available online at Ancestry.
Clitheroe Castle Museum will be closed from Monday, March 23.
Guided tours of Lancaster Castle will be suspended from Monday. The reopening of Gawthorpe Hall, Helmshore Textile, Judges’ Lodgings and Queen Street Mill museums will be postponed.