Road to Reopening
Status of Library services at a glance: Bookmark this page for the latest information. Updated May 17, 2021.
Library Programs & Services Available Now
While public access to our buildings is restricted to help slow the spread of COVID-19, you can still use the Library. You can access In-Building Services at some Library locations, pick up your holds at select branches offering Curbside Services, print up to 10 black and white pages per day to pick up at curbside, or use our free online resources.
We offer limited services inside several Library buildings. You can enter these locations Tuesdays through Saturdays during specified open hours between noon and 6 p.m., with closed cleaning breaks throughout the day. You can pick up your holds, use a computer or Wi-Fi, print pages, use a restroom, or simply sit and read.
We are providing safe access to books, DVDs and other materials, and all materials are quarantined for 24 hours after they are returned. You can place holds on items in our catalog to pick up at branches offering Curbside Services. Stop by to browse Peak Picks or take home Grab & Go books in your favorite genre.
Use Digital Resources
We have expanded our digital collections to give you access to more e-books and other online resources while access to buildings is restricted. Read e-books, take online classes, use research databases or read current or historical newspaper articles online.
Attend Virtual Events
Join us online for fun story times for kids, creative activities for older adults or virtual author talks. Many of our events are recorded and posted to our YouTube channels.
Get a New Library Card
You can sign up for a new Library card online and get instant access to e-books and other online resources. In order to provide instant access, we will automatically verify your Seattle address. If we are unable to verify your address, we will ask you to provide additional information.
Find COVID-19 Resources
Explore resources gathered by our staff to support communities most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis. We are continuing to update this page as needs and resources emerge.
Restroom Facilities During Library Closure
The Seattle Public Library is providing restroom access at some Library buildings to support insecurely housed and homeless patrons lacking restroom options during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Common questions about services in 2021
I don’t have a Library card. Can I apply for one online?
Yes! You can sign up for a Library card online. In order to provide instant access, we will automatically verify your Seattle address. If we are unable to verify your address, we will ask you to provide additional information. People who successfully sign up will get instant access to Library materials and resources.
Parents and guardians of children under 13 can also apply for a child's card online. 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 about our Library Link.
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 and what’s available?
Can I contact the Library through chat, email or phone?
Can I suggest titles for new materials you don’t have in your catalog?
Currently, we are only accepting title suggestions for e-books and e-audiobooks. 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.
Why did it take until April of 2021 to start reopening buildings?
Like all other public service providers, the Library has had to make our own way through this unprecedented time. There has been no road map, so we have had to make our own. Patron and staff safety, as well as an equitable approach to our service delivery, have been our top priorities since we closed our doors in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak in our community.
Our cautious approach has been successful. Since launching our Curbside Services last summer, we have had no known transmissions of COVID-19 among staff or patrons, despite serving over 45,000 patrons and facilitating over 1.1 million material checkouts through the service. We are grateful that Library workers have been getting vaccinated and can safely and confidently begin providing In-Building Services inside of our neighborhood libraries.
While our buildings were closed, we have continued to offer and expand many services (see above slideshow “A Look Back”). We have acquired new hotspots, which we are loaning on a long-term basis to locations such as tiny home villages. We have delivered more than 20,000 physical books to children through our community partners. And we have launched and designed new programs for job seekers (which are available online and by phone), as well as many other virtual programs.
What happened in Library buildings while they were closed?
Library staff have conducted many kinds of in-building work while Library buildings were closed to the public:
- maintaining the systems and security of our Library buildings;
- providing safe public restroom access at select locations;
- processing and shelving returned materials;
- cleaning and disinfecting buildings;
- setting up health and safety protocols for staff;
- and providing limited Curbside Services including pickup of physical materials and other services such as remote printing
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
Are library parking garages open?
Most library parking garages are currently closed. The Central Library parking garage 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.
Are the Bookmobile and Books by Mail services available?
The Library’s Mobile Services, including Bookmobile and Books by Mail, are available. The Books by Mail service is signing up new patrons who are unable to visit their neighborhood branch due to age or disability.