COVID-19 Update: Library Reopening FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about library reopening and service resumptions (updated Oct. 15, 2020)

1.  Will libraries be open after students leave campus on Nov. 21? What is the schedule between semesters? Oct. 21, 2020

Current library hours, including weekends and evenings, will be maintained until Yale College closes on Nov. 20. At that point, ID access to libraries for undergraduates will be turned off, but access for faculty, staff, and enrolled graduate and professional students in residence will continue.

From Nov. 20 to Feb. 1,  when spring semester begins, libraries and special collection reading rooms will be open Monday through Friday, and contact-free pickup will continue to be available in the Sterling nave and at Cushing/Whitney Medical Library. Weekend hours will be discontinued effective Nov. 20, and Sterling and Bass will stay open until 10 pm on Thursday only after Nov. 20. An activated ID will be required for entry into the libraries, including to pick up requested materials.

For the most part, the libraries will be closed for Thanksgiving (Nov. 26-27), winter recess (Dec. 24- Jan. 3) and Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 18). Winter recess dates vary slightly for the Divinity Library and Cushing/Whitney Medical Library. During these holiday closings, online services, including Ask Yale Library chat, will also be closed. Visit the Lillian Goldman Law Library web page for information about law library collections and services.

Current faculty, students, and staff may request scans of chapters and articles or have library materials delivered to anywhere in the U.S.  Mail-to-address service has now been expanded to include BorrowDirect materials, interlibrary loans, and videos from the Film Study Center collection, in addition to general collection materials.

2. Which Yale libraries are open? Oct. 15, 2020

More than a dozen libraries and special collection repositories are now open to Yale faculty, students, and staff who have been approved for return to campus.

For study spaces and general collections:

  • Bass Library
  • Cushing/Whitney Medical Library (open to Yale community and Yale New Haven Hospital staff authorized to be on campus)
  • Divinity Library (open to Divinity faculty, staff, and students; other Yale ID holders may contact katherine.antos@yale.edu to request permission.)
  • Gilmore Music Library (email for information about music library special collections)
  • Haas Arts Library
  • Marx Science and Social Science Library (formerly CSSSI)
  • Sterling Memorial Library (upper-floor reading rooms, L&B Room, and Microform Reading Room closed; Babylonian Collection open by appointment only.)

For special collections (reading room access only, appointments required)

  • Arts Library Special Collections (by reservation only)
  • Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (reading room open by reservation only, all other Beinecke spaces closed)
  • Divinity Library Special Collections (by reservation only)
  • Lewis Walpole (by reservation only) 
  • Manuscripts and Archives (by reservation only)
  • Medical Historical Library (by reservation only)

The Reference Library at the Center for British Art remains closed to researchers, but is offering Scan and Deliver and reference services.

Access to the Classics Library is limited to Classics Department graduate students and faculty only. 

Access to Lillian Goldman Law Library is restricted to members of the Law School community. Please visit https://library.law.yale.edu/ for more information.

The library's Film Study Center (FSC) is closed, but users may request collection materials in Orbis for pickup or delivery. Viewing stations are available in Gilmore Music Library. Contact FSC staff with questions. 

3. Who is allowed in the libraries and reading rooms? Oct. 15, 2020

Only Yale students, faculty, and staff approved for return to campus are being admitted to Yale libraries at this time. A valid Yale ID with activated swipe access is required for entry. Special collections reading rooms are open, by appointment only, with the same restrictions and requirements. Please see Question No. 1 for some additional restrictions at certain libraries.

Yale College students who are enrolled remotely do not have access to library buildings and reading rooms. Students who have questions about the status of their campus access should check the Yale Hub. Other patrons with questions about their campus access, including swipe-access to library buildings, should check with their home or sponsoring departments.

The library's priority is to support Yale research, teaching, and learning. We regret that we cannot currently support library access or privileges for alumni and other Yale affiliates or non-Yale visitors at this time. Alumni who have purchased library privileges may apply for a refund by emailing askyalelibrary@yale.edu. We invite the public to visit our digital collections and online exhibitions, and look forward to welcoming back our extended community when circumstances allow.

4. How can I access library materials on-campus?  Oct. 21, 2020

Faculty, staff, and students with approved campus access may use the links in Orbis and Quicksearch to request library materials, including BorrowDirect and interlibrary loan materials, for pickup at service desks in Bass Library, Marx Library, Haas Arts Library, and the Divinity Library, or contactless pickup in the Sterling nave or at Cushing/Whitney Medical Library. Access to the Divinity Quadrangle is currently limited to Divinity faculty, students, and staff. Others may request access by contacting katherine.antos@yale.edu

To pick up materials in Sterling, use the "Contactless Pickup at Sterling Library Nave" option. The requested materials will be pre-checked-out to your library account, bagged, and arranged by user name on racks in the nave.  Contactless pickup is also available at Cushing/Whitney Medical Library.

Students living in residential colleges or on campus graduate housing may have library materials delivered to their residential college or dorm.  This includes interlibrary loan materials and BorrowDirect materials. Please use the "Send to home address or residential college" link in Orbis or Quicksearch. For more information, visit the Get it at Yale website.

Some reading rooms in Sterling Library are closed, with the following provisions for accessing their collections:

  • All reading rooms and study spaces on the upper levels of Sterling are closed. Users may request scans of chapters and articles from these collections using Scan and Deliver.
  • The Linonia and Brothers (L&B) Reading Room in Sterling is closed. Collection materials in this room may be requested for pickup or Scan and Deliver. 
  • The Microform Reading Room in Sterling Library is closed. To provide access to microform materials, we have set up a microform reader in Bass Library across from the service desk, and we are finalizing a system to request materials, Beginning Sept. 8, request microfilm and microfiche “Bass Service Desk Pickup” option in Orbis or Quicksearch. When you are finished viewing, place the materials in a designated return area. Please do not remove microform material from the library. Scans of microform material may be requested via Scan and Deliver. 
  • Access to the Peabody Museum's Babylonian Collection, located in Sterling Library, is by advance appointment only. 

As of Oct. 11, videos from the library's Film Study Center (FSC) may be requested for pickup or delivery. The FSC offices, collections, and viewing room remains closed.

For collection material in the Classics Library, contact Classics Librarian Colin McCaffrey.

The Sterling stacks are open, but we have discontinued checking out library materials to reserved carrels. We encourage carrel holders to check out to their personal accounts the materials most critical to their research and to take the materials with them when they leave the library. This is an important precaution against the possibility that libraries could be closed again with little notice, making materials left in carrels inaccessible.

All current students, faculty, and staff may request digital scans of chapters and articles from Yale Library collections and via interlibrary loan, which will be filled based on availability of materials at our partner libraries. Library users may request books for pickup or delivery through BorrowDirect and interlibrary loan.  

5. How can I access library collections from off-campus? Oct. 21, 2020

Faculty, staff, and students enrolled remotely or living off-campus may request Yale Library materials, including videos from the Film Study Center; BorrowDirect materials, and interlibrary loan materials for delivery to their home addresses. Please use the "Send to home address or residential college" link in Orbis or Quicksearch, or request interlibrary loan materials through our ILL request formPlease note: If you do not have campus access and have accidentally requested books for campus pickup, please e-mail askyalelibrary@yale.edu, and we will arrange to have the materials sent to your address.

All current students, faculty, and staff may request digital scans of chapters and articles from library collections, and submit interlibrary loan requests for scanned articles and book chapters, which will be filled based on availability of materials at our partner libraries. 

6. How can I access special collections materials? Oct. 5, 2020

The reading rooms for Arts Library Special Collections, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Divinity Library Special Collections,  Lewis Walpole Library, Manuscripts and Archives, and the Medical Historical Library are open by advance reservation only for Yale faculty, staff, and students authorized to be on campus. Music library special collections materials are available, by appointment, for use in the Manuscripts and Archives reading room. Yale College students enrolled remotely do not have access to special collections reading rooms. More information on special collections access can be found here.

At the Lewis Walpole Library in Farmington seating in the reading room is by reservation only and limited to three researchers at a time. All researchers are encouraged to consult digital images of collection materials where possible and limit on-site visits to research that requires consultation of the physical item. While prioritizing support of Yale teaching and research, the Lewis Walpole will continue supporting the non-Yale research community remotely. Please consult Lewis Walpole's information for researchers for details. 

Special collections staff are digitizing materials for classes and providing in-class material handling demonstrations and object engagements via Zoom. Faculty should contact the relevant special collection repository to discuss class support needs. The library's capacity to fill special collections scanning and reference requests for non-Yale researchers is limited and may vary by library, with no guaranteed fulfillment times.  We continue to expand the range of digital collection materials freely available to the public. 

7.  What precautions are you taking to protect library users and staff and minimize risk of infection? Oct. 6, 2020

Library staff are following all university public health guidance. These include reduced occupany of work spaces, physical distancing, minimizing handoffs of materials between staff, mask wearing in shared spaces and within six feet of library materials, washing or sanitizing hands before and after handling library materials, sanitizing and disinfecting of workspaces and machinery, and staff self-monitoring for symptoms.

Spaces and services have been modified to support physical distancing, limit face-to-face interactions in library spaces, and ensure full compliance with health and safety guidelines. Some collection and study spaces remain closed to reduce use of elevators and stairways or because they could not be reconfigured to support the required physical distance between  users and staff.

Additional measures include:

  • Anyone entering a library must scan their Yale ID. This will facilitate contact tracing in the event of a virus outbreak. Library staff who can work from home will continue to do so to support lower occupancy requirements in staff spaces. (Please note: IDs will be activated only for those who have been cleared to return to campus. Students who are enrolled remotely will not be able to access the library.)
  • Library spaces and furnishings have been reconfigured for 50 percent of normal occupancy. Library users will be required to wear face coverings at all times, maintain six feet of distance from others in the space, and follow hand hygiene recommendations. 
  • Plexiglass shields have been installed at service desks and security points, and self-service check-out machines will be added to libraries that did not have them. We will maintain extended live-chat hours for our Ask Yale Library service, as an alternative to face-to-face interactions with staff and to provide real-time response to user questions during late evening and weekend hours.
  • Public computers have been removed from libraries, with the exception of a few adjacent to service points to be used for quick lookups only. Appropriate cleaning products are provided for wiping down shared computers, scanners, and copiers between uses. We are working with Yale ITS to implement “no-touch” printing options for library printers. 
  • Users who wish to limit library interactions may request contactless pickup in Sterling Library nave or the medical library, or request delivery of library materials to campus residences or home addresses in the U.S.
  • Library materials returned by users will be quarantined for 48 hours before being discharged and re-shelved. Materials handled or used by patrons in the libraries will also be quarantined for 48 hours. Equipment (cameras, laptops, etc.) that is returned by library users will be quarantined for 72 hours before being lent out again. 

8. How is Yale Library supporting students who are enrolled remotely? Oct. 21, 2020

We are enhancing online services and support for Yale faculty, staff, and students on- and off-campus in several ways:

  • Faculty, staff, and students can now access most e-resources off-campus from the library’s website without logging into the virtual private network (VPN). Watch this one-minute video for a demonstration. Please note: VPN access remains fully available for those who prefer it, and it will continue to be required for a limited number of e-resources.
  • Currently enrolled students may have books and other library materials, including BorrowDirect and interlibrary loan materials, sent to their home addresses anywhere in the U.S. Please use the "Send to home address or residential college" link in Orbis or Quicksearch to request this service. More information can be found on the Get it at Yale website.
  • Through our Ask Yale Library service, we are offering extended live-chat hours for more than 90 hours a week. Off hours, you may email your questions to askyalelibrary@yale.edu.
  • We have maintained the special access we secured last spring to several million e-books in the HathiTrust digital library through the end of the fall semester. As a condition of this access, our print copies of these titles may not be checked out, but they are available for chapter scan requests. (If you have questions about a specific HathiTrust title, please email askyalelibrary@yale.edu. We are also temporarily prioritizing e-book purchases over print.
  • All library instruction, workshops, and statistical support services will be offered online-only this semester. Consultations with research librarians will also be virtual. We encourage you to take full advantage of our online reference and research support. If you need assistance, please contact your personal librarian or the relevant subject specialist librarian.

9. Is there a limit on the number of items I can request for pickup or scanning? Aug. 27, 2002

You may request up to 20 items a day for pickup. There is no limit on the number of scanning requests.

10. When I check out or pick up library materials, should I clean or disinfect them? Aug. 27, 2020

No. Please don’t clean or disinfect library materials.  Cleaning may damage the materials, and it’s not necessary given the precautions our staff will be taking, including the 48-hour quarantine of materials when they are returned to the library.  We encourage users to wash or disinfect hands before and after using library materials. 

11. Can I request books via interlibrary loan (ILL) and BorrowDirect?  Oct. 21, 2020

Yale has now resumed participation in both BorrowDirect and interlibrary loan. BorrowDirect and ILL materials may be requested for pickup or mail-to-address, including campus housing. We continue to accept and fill ILL requests for scanned articles and book chapters, based on availability of materials from partner libraries. 

BorrowDirect materials generally arrive within two to four business days. When selecting a pickup location for BorrowDirect materials, keep in mind that access to the Divinity Library requires special permission for non-Divinity faculty and students. Access to the Law Library is strictly limited to Law faculty and students.

Most of the 13 BorrowDirect institutions are lending from at least some of their library collections. Many titles currently available as e-books through the HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS) may be unavailable in print form through BorrowDirect because most of the BorrowDirect institutions are also participating in ETAS. Participating libraries, including Yale Library, cannot lend out physical copies of books for which they have obtained temporary e-book access from HathiTrust. 

We regret that we cannot offer BorrowDirect services to other Yale affiliates due to staffing constraints and the increased demands of supporting online teaching and research.

12. I have overdue library materials. Where should I return them? Oct. 15, 2020

Most library materials may be returned to any open bookdrop. Audio-visual and other fragile materials should be returned to service desks only. If you do not currently have access to campus and wish to return library materials, email askyalelibrary@yale.edu for options. Otherwise, please keep library materials, including BorrowDirect and Interlibrary Loan materials, until you return to campus or receive a return request from us. Due dates have been extended, and fines and late fees generated during the COVID-19 period are being waived. 

13. May I recall books that are checked out?

At this time, we are not recalling books because so many library users are away from campus and unable to return items to campus. If you need a book that is currently checked out, please submit a purchase request, and we will try to obtain an electronic copy for you.

14. I cannot travel domestically or internationally to work with the research materials that I need at another archive or library. Is there anything the library can do to help? July 31, 2020

As a general rule, our library staff do not have any special influence with other archives and libraries. We recommend that you contact the other institution directly to explain your problem and request their assistance. However, in some cases, our subject expert librarians and archivists may be able to help you identify related or alternative materials in Yale Library collections or licensed resources, or collections available in digital form at other institutions. If you aren’t sure who to contact, email askyalelibrary@yale.edu. Please note: At this time, because of staffing and other constraints related to the pandemic, library services are generally limited to current Yale faculty, staff, and students. 

15. Is the library accepting purchase requests for print and e-books? Oct. 15, 2020

Yes. Use this link to place a purchase request for any title; you will be notified by email when your requested material is available. Unless you specify otherwise in your request, we will fill your purchase request with an electronic version. Print will be ordered only if the requested item is not available electronically, or if you have specified print on the form. Because of material handling and quarantine requirements, print orders may take several days longer than in pre-pandemic times.

16. How can I get access to Course Reserves/Course Readings through the library? Sept. 3, 2020

Course Reserves is a service provided by the library to make course readings and audio-visual material available via Canvas. Faculty can initiate requests for e-books, scans, and streaming audio or video using the Course Reserves module of Canvas

To access readings and other materials "on reserve," students should look for the link that says "course reserves" on the left of the course website in Canvas. Students may also find copies of course materials in these ways: 

  • Use Scan and Deliver to request chapter or article scans of items that Yale Library owns. Look up the title in Quicksearch, then find the “Request scan of article / chapter” link. Log in with your Yale NetID and tell us which pages, chapter, or article you need. (*Note that US copyright restrictions prevent scanning an entire work.)
  • Use Interlibrary Loan  to request chapter or article scans of items not available at Yale Library.
  • Request Yale Library materials for delivery to on-campus housing or home address. Look up the book title in Quicksearch. If the library owns a copy, it will be listed there. If it's an e-book, look for the access link ("Online book") and log in with your NetId to read it.  
  • Fill out a purchase request to request e-book versions of class materials to be added to the Yale Library collection.
  • Request materials through BorrowDirect

For questions not answered here, use the live chat service at Ask Yale Library or email Ask Yale Library.  See also our COVID-19 library updates for additional information about the library's ongoing response to the pandemic.

Last modified: 
Wednesday, October 21, 2020 - 10:52pm