The Lit & Phil is gearing up to reopen its stately doors on Monday as it emerges from lockdown - but returning library-goers will find a very different experience awaits.
The historic building in Westgate Road, which is the largest independent library outside of London, will be easing itself gradually into the new world of Covid-19 measures and restrictions.
And, for now at least, visitors will have to pre-book a slot to go, wear a mask inside and be confined to only certain areas of the vast building.
However, for many, that will be a small price to pay for the chance to return to the peaceful environment of The Lit & Phil - full name the Literary And Philosophical Society - which boasts a collection of nearly 200,000 books and the biggest music collection in the North.
The Grade ll-listed library is planning a phased reopening from July 13 and, with Monday being only the first step, librarian Kay Easson is looking forward to the lifting of more restrictions and to the "buzz" returning to the building.
She said: “Although we are delighted to reopen our doors, we realise that phase one of our reopening plan is extremely limited and sincerely hope it is not too long before some of the rules may be lifted and we can slowly return to as near to 'business as usual' as possible.
“In the meantime, we invite all our members to book a slot and call by – we have really missed them."
Throughout lockdown, the library, a charity, has been busy offering a virtual service despite facing a struggle to survive its months of closure which saw its revenue streams - from hiring out its ornate rooms for concerts and literary events - dry up.
So the Government's new announcement of a £1.57bn rescue package for culture, arts and heritage organisations is being welcomed by The Lit & Phil as well as a host of other venues across Newcastle.
Established in 1825, it has more than 2,000 members whose subscriptions help keep it afloat and it is hoping that more people will join to discover what is often described as a hidden gem, and explore rooms where such illustrious figures from history as Charles Dickens and local inventors Robert Stephenson, Lord Armstrong , Charles Parsons and Joseph Swan met and talked of literature, science and new discoveries of their age.
For now, following careful preparations, access will be for members only who have booked and been allocated a slot - which will be for 30 minutes and limited to one a week.
A drop-off and collect service will be on offer and during their slot members will be able to browse in specific parts of the library, take out new books and CDs and return current loans. They also will be able to pre-order books in advance from its catalogue - which is also available on the library’s website - and collect these during their slot.
All books and CDs being returned will be quarantined for 72 hours.
As well as being expected to wear a face covering, members will be asked to follow social distancing rules inside the library; follow marked routes and make use of the hand sanitising stations.
Kay Easson said that, with safety and wellbeing the top priority, there are rigorous measures in place to protect members and staff.
In normal times, visitors come and go freely, browse books and enjoy a coffee and a chat. There are also magazines and periodicals to read and a busy events programme which includes the likes of lectures, concerts, author evenings, theatre performances, stories, poetry and classes covering everything from bookbinding and Latin to fine art and creative writing.
Kay said: "Normally we encourage people to stay as long as they like but for the time being it’s the opposite, which does feel rather unnatural. We are desperate for the lively buzz and hum of activity to return."
She added: "As a small charity with no public funding we are in a precarious position but with the subscription loyalty of our 2,000-plus members, and judicious use of reserves, we are sure we can weather the crisis.
"The arts and culture sector has taken an extraordinary hit but the news from the Government was very positive and we are certainly hopeful for the future.”
The library is currently also in the process of setting up a home delivery service for members who are more vulnerable or still shielding.
Anyone interested in becoming a member, sponsoring a book or making a donation can see here for details.