Road to Reopening
Status of Library services at a glance: Bookmark this page for the latest information. Updated Nov. 15, 2020
Update to Safe Start Plan for Libraries
How do I borrow books while the Library is closed?
Can I now place new holds?
Patrons can place up to 25 holds at a time and pick them up at one of our 11 curbside pickup service locations.
How do I return my books?
The Library is now accepting returns at 13 Library locations every day from 10am to 6 p.m. or until book returns are full. You may drop off your items at any of these locations:
When are my books due?
The Library has extended due dates on most items into the month of November. Check your account to see the exact due dates of your materials. We will also be notifying patrons by email when materials are coming due.
We encourage patrons to return materials by their due dates so other patrons can enjoy them. You can also help by checking your account for holds you have placed on physical items and deleting those that you no longer need.
Lending periods will remain the same as they were prior to our building closures: three weeks for most materials and two weeks for DVDs and Peak Picks titles.
To ensure the safety of patrons and staff, all returned items will be quarantined – and will remain on your account – for a minimum of 3 days before being checked in.
When can I visit Library buildings again?
At this time, in-building services are still primarily closed to the public to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. With new guidance from the governor, which allows libraries to open buildings at 25 percent capacity for some in-building activities, the Library is working to understand those new guidelines and how they may be applied. The Library does currently offer daily limited public restroom access at five locations from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. As mentioned above, Curbside Pickup and book return services are offered at several locations during limited hours. The Library has canceled in-person public Library programs, as well as meeting room bookings, until at least Dec. 31.
What's available online?
To help meet community interest, we have invested in more e-materials throughout our closure. You can explore our vast collection of learning and entertainment resources, including e-books (see expanded “Always Available ” lists), streaming services, learning resources and more. Library staff are also ready to answer your phone call or chat or email through Ask Us.
Can I donate my used books to the Library?
The Library is not able to accept book donations at this time. Please do not leave books or other materials you wish to donate at Library sites.
Common questions about our COVID-19 closure
What Library services are available during this COVID-19 closure?
We continue to provide the many digital services you have come to love, such as our Ask Us reference service (available by phone, chat and email); e-books and e-audiobooks; streaming TV, movie and music services; digital subscriptions to newspapers and magazines; and more. We are also hosting a number of virtual programs, such as story times on Facebook Live, virtual Play and Learn groups, programs for people ages 50 and older, business trainings and more. See spl.org/calendar for a full list.
You can also see a list of our digital services at spl.org/StayingHome.
I don’t have a Library card. Can I apply for one online?
Yes! If you don’t have an active account with The Seattle Public Library, go to spl.org/card to sign up for a digital Library card. To be eligible, you must be 13 years or older, live in Seattle and have a mobile phone to verify your account. People who successfully sign up will get immediate access to the OverDrive collection of 200,000 e-books and e-audiobooks, and to the rest of the Library’s resources (including placing holds on physical materials) within two or three days.
Also, through our Library Link program, if you are a Seattle Public School student in grades K-12, or a Seattle Public School teacher in grades K-12, you can access the Library’s digital books and online resources. Find out more at spl.org/LibraryLink.
I have a Library card, but can’t figure out how to sign into my account online.
How can I stay up to date on Library operations during the closure and what’s available?
We will post updates to this page and our social media channels on Facebook and Twitter. When there are major updates, such as anticipated re-openings or extended closures, we will reach out to patrons via email as well.
Can I contact the Library through chat, email or phone during the closure?
Can I suggest titles for new materials you don’t have in your catalog?
Currently, we are only accepting title suggestions for eBooks and eAudiobooks. We are still working through a backlog for the ordering and processing of new materials, so we do not yet have the capacity to take on additional title suggestions at this time.
What is happening in Library buildings while they are closed?
King County has been approved for Phase 2 activities in the Governor’s Safe Start Washington plan, which allows some Library staff to conduct in-building work. That work includes:
- maintaining the systems and security of our Library buildings;
- providing safe public restroom access at five locations;
- processing and shelving returned materials;
- cleaning and disinfecting buildings;
- setting up health and safety protocols for staff;
- and launching limited curbside pickup service for physical materials.
Other Library staff have been working remotely to:
- develop a Road to Reopening plan;
- answer patron questions seven days a week via telephone, chat and email;
- transition in-person programs – such as job help and support for small businesses – to virtual programs;
- collaborate with Seattle Public Schools and other community partners in supporting the learning needs of students, parents and teachers;
- and more
Will library parking garages remain open during this closure?
Most library parking garages are closed for the duration of the Library’s closure. The Central Library parking garage, however, is open during its regular hours: Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 8:45 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Will the Bookmobile or Books by Mail be available during the closure?
Mobile services, including Bookmobile activities, were temporarily suspended during the early part of our closure. In mid-August, the Library began no-contact delivery of Library materials to established Mobile stops. The Library's Books by Mail service has fully resumed and is signing up new patrons who are unable to visit their neighborhood branch due to age or disability.