The City’s three library systems will reinstitute limited service to a number of physical locations as a first step towards reopening following a four-month temporary closure to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
JUNE 25, 2020 -- The City’s three library systems—The New York Public Library (NYPL), Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), and Queens Public Library (QPL)—plan to reopen 22 branches for grab-and-go service beginning on Monday, July 13.
Since their temporary closure in mid-March, BPL, NYPL and QPL pivoted quickly to deliver critical services, programs, and resources to the public remotely.
This limited reopening is the first step in a careful, phased approach to reinstituting service at the City’s physical libraries, which have been temporarily closed since mid-March to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
In this first phase, New Yorkers:
Can access a small area of the open branches to pick up and return checkouts placed online or on the phone (the process will be contactless)
Must wear masks (this is mandatory, as per State guidelines)
Must physically distance from staff and other patrons
Must respect capacity limits inside the open locations
Must leave the libraries as soon as their pickups or returns are complete; at this stage, there will be no browsing, in-person reference, or computer use.
Can continue to access programming, e-books, research databases, classes, and more virtually, via enhanced digital offerings that will remain in place; for the time being, in-person programs and classes will not be held in branches
Can check out materials without accruing fines for the time being (fines will not accrue on items checked out before temporary closure or during this first phase of reopening)
To keep staff and patrons as safe as possible, the three library systems are following guidelines outlined by safety experts, government partners, and library trade organizations. For example, all returned items will be quarantined for 72 hours before being recirculated, as per guidelines from public health authorities including the REALM Project (a research partnership between OCLC, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and Battelle).
The branches opening on July 13 for limited service are:
Brooklyn Public Library
Bay Ridge Library
Hours will be 10 AM to 4 PM on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and 1 PM to 7 PM on Tuesday and Thursday
The New York Public Library (which covers the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island)
*Please note that research libraries, including the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, will remain temporarily closed during this first phase of reopening, but will offer expanded scan-and-deliver service for general research collections. Patrons will be able to request scans of material via the Shared Collections Catalog.
Hours for most branches will be 11 AM to 6 PM on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday; 12 PM to 7 PM on Wednesday; and 11 AM to 5 PM Friday and Saturday. The only exception is the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library, which will be open 10 AM to 6 PM Monday to Friday, and 11 AM to 5 PM on Saturday.
Queens Public Library
Hours will be 10 AM to 5 PM, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (with a one-hour closure from 1 to 2 PM for cleaning); 1 PM to 5 PM on Tuesday; and 12 PM to 7 PM on Thursday (with a one-hour closure from 3 to 4 PM for cleaning)
The first group of branches was chosen based on a number of factors, including proximity to public transportation, size, building condition, and location, with the goal of covering as much of the City as possible. All three systems are working towards opening more branches and adding services in a safe and thoughtful manner in later phases of the city’s reopening.
In The New York Public Library system, the Research Libraries will remain temporarily closed during this first phase, but will expand digital document delivery to serve scholars, researchers, and students who need access to on-site materials.
For more specific information about each system and its plans, visit the Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, and Queens Public Library websites.
“As the Borough reawakens Brooklyn Public Library is excited to put physical books in the hands of New Yorkers once again,” said Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO, Linda E. Johnson. “With the health and safety of staff and patrons at the forefront, this plan for limited service will enable us to provide resources to those without devices or internet at home. While our virtual library will continue to offer expanded digital collections, we know there is nothing quite like the pleasure of grabbing a new book in the summertime."
“We know how important it is to reopen our physical locations,” said Anthony W. Marx, president of The New York Public Library. “We know that our communities need us more than ever as they cope with multiple crises impacting public health, the economy, and social justice. People are hurting. People need help. People need us. We have a plan to reopen thoughtfully and carefully, with the safety of our staff and patrons as our first priority. This first group of branches is only the first step in that plan, but an important one. We hope to safely open more locations soon.”
“As we begin to step cautiously back into our physical spaces and welcome customers inside, we will continue to reimagine and expand our services and respond to the diverse needs of the public,” said Dennis M. Walcott, president and CEO of Queens Public Library. “We recognize the disproportionate toll the virus has taken on our communities and will reopen cautiously, gradually, and intentionally, in stages, starting with a small number of locations offering limited service to the public and expanding over time as circumstances allow. We know our staff and the communities we serve are resilient and strong, and together, in the face of the ongoing crisis, we will rebuild.”
About Brooklyn Public Library
Brooklyn Public Library is one of the nation’s largest library systems and among New York City’s most democratic institutions. As a leader in developing modern 21st century libraries, we provide resources to support personal advancement, foster civic literacy, and strengthen the fabric of community among the more than 2.6 million individuals who call Brooklyn home. We provide nearly 65,000 free programs a year with writers, thinkers, artists, and educators—from around the corner and around the world. And we give patrons millions of opportunities to enjoy one of life’s greatest satisfactions: the joy of a good book.
About The New York Public Library
For 125 years, The New York Public Library has been a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library receives approximately 16 million visits through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at www.nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support.
About Queens Public Library
Queens Public Library is one of the largest and busiest public library systems in the United States, dedicated to serving the most ethnically and culturally diverse area in the country. An independent, non-profit organization founded in 1896, Queens Public Library offers free access to a collection of more than 5 million books and other materials in multiple languages, technology and digital resources, and more than 87,500 educational, cultural, and civic programs a year. It consists of 66 locations, including branch libraries, a Central Library, seven adult learning centers, a technology lab, two universal pre-kindergartens, and two teen centers.