Returning to the Library: Frequently Asked Questions

Returning to the Library: Frequently Asked Questions


When will the Library reopen?
The Library is opening in phases to make sure we can provide service safely to our customers and provide a safe space for our staff to work while practicing social distancing per the required health guidelines.

Phase 1 took effect on May 29, 2020 and included limited services of book and remote print job pick up. See Phase 1 services for more details.

Phase 2 begins on Monday, March 29, 2021 with limited services in select library locations to include limited public computer access, remote print services, holds pick up, printing, returning library materials and gradual phasing in of additional services. See Phase 2 services for more details.

Dates for Phases 3 and 4 have not yet been determined. 

Why are hours reduced?
In order to ensure a safe return to library services for staff and public, we have reduced hours. This will better allow the Library to limit the number of people who can be in the building, clean and disinfect the spaces regularly, reconfigure spaces as needed to better accommodate social distancing and to manage and process returned materials safely.


When can I request new items and how long will it take?
You are able to request holds for library materials now. So far, we are able to fill requests in a similar timeline as before. There may be some delays as we isolate returned materials for 96 hours out of an abundance of caution.

Can I come into the Library to pick up my materials?
Right now, you are able to place holds and pick up items at any of the open libraries after receiving notification from the Library that your materials are ready for pick up. To place a hold:

  • Request materials online or by phone.
  • Once the materials arrive at your preferred location, you will receive notification by your preferred method (email or phone) to schedule a pickup time as your materials become available.
  • You may visit the library where your hold is available to pick up your materials.
  • Staff will check the items out to you during your pickup.
Will you still do contactless service in Phases 2 and 3?
We will provide contactless service as long as the CDC and DC Health Department recommend social distancing measures. After that, we will evaluate the need and use to determine if and where this service continues.

Where do I return materials?
Please only use the outside drop boxes or bins to return library materials. 

How do I use the remote printing services?
Please follow the instructions found here.



When will the Library offer in-person programming again?
As long as the CDC and the DC Health Department guidelines require or recommend limiting the size of gatherings, we will not be offering in-person programming. Our goal is to offer limited programming, such as story times, in libraries during Phase 3 depending on health requirements.

In the meantime, we have transformed our most popular programs such as story times, performers, and book groups into virtual programs via our social media channels. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to enjoy these virtual programs. That information is also available on our calendar and through our weekly e-newsletter.


When will my group be able to use your meeting rooms/quiet study rooms? There are less than 10 of us. When can you start taking my meeting room reservations?
As long as the CDC and the DC Health Department guidelines require or recommend limiting the size of gatherings, we will not be taking meeting room reservations nor allowing usage of our meeting rooms. Our goal is to allow some access to study rooms in Phase 3 depending on health guidelines. In order to ensure safety and social distancing within the branches, many of our spaces, particularly meeting rooms, are currently being used as temporary work space for our staff and/or as spaces to quarantine library materials.


Is it safe to visit the Library?
We are exceeding all the precautions recommended by the CDC and the DC Health Department to mitigate risks in the Library for staff and customers. This includes requiring masks, social distancing, continuous cleaning and disinfecting and limiting the number of people in our buildings. Only you can decide if any visit outside your home is safe. We have also greatly expanded digital access to materials and programs and offer curbside service to help deliver Library services as safely as possible.

Do I need to wear a mask?

Yes. All Library staff and customers are required to wear masks inside and while doing business at the Library; however, masks are not recommended for children under the age of two or for those who have difficulty breathing with masks. This will keep everyone as safe as possible. If you are uncomfortable wearing a mask for any reason, we will be happy to help you by phone, email, or online chat. 

Can I get COVID-19 from touching Library materials?
Scientific studies indicate that it is highly unlikely that people contract COVID-19 from touching things. As a precaution, wash your hands frequently and do not touch your face with unclean hands.

Can I bring my children to the Library?
All visitors to the Library must adhere to our social distancing and mask-wearing protocols. Masks are not recommended for children under the age of two or for those who have difficulty breathing with masks. During this pandemic, we are asking that children be supervised by a responsible adult at all times for their safety and the safety of others.

Will you still have play areas?
Right now, all of our play areas are closed to the public.