COVID-19 Update: Library Reopening FAQ

See Frequently Asked Questions about library reopening and service resumptions (updated Sept. 25, 2020)

1. Which Yale libraries are now open? Sept. 25, 2020

NEW: Weekend hours have resumed at Sterling Library and Bass Library: 10 am - 5 pm on Saturday, and noon - 6 pm on Sunday. 

Within Yale University Library, the libraries listed below are now open to current Yale faculty, graduate and professional students, and staff authorized to be on campus. Access to libraries for Yale College students enrolled in residence begins Sept. 11. Yale College students who are enrolled remotely do not have access to library buildings and reading rooms. 

  • Bass Library
  • Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (The reading room is open by appointment. All other Beinecke spaces remain closed.)
  • Classics Library (This library is unstaffed and open only to Classics Department graduate students and faculty.)
  • Cushing/Whitney Medical Library (The medical library is open to Yale and Yale New Haven Hospital staff authorized to be on campus.)
  • Divinity Library (Access is limited to Divinity School faculty, staff, and students. Other authorized Yale ID holders may contact katherine.antos@yale.edu to request permission.)
  • Gilmore Music Library (inside Sterling Library)
  • Haas Arts Library 
  • Manuscripts and Archives (inside Sterling Library)
  • Marx Science and Social Science Library (formerly CSSSI)
  • Sterling Memorial Library (Upper-floor reading rooms, L&B Room, and Microform Reading Room are closed. The Babylonian Collection is open by advance appointment only.)

Building hours are limited by pandemic-related staffing constraints, including expanded online services. See library hours. Some library spaces and resources require reservations for use. 

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 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 priority at this time is to support Yale research, teaching, and learning. As part of the University's COVID-19 response, access to University buildings, including libraries, is limited to authorized faculty, staff, and students. We regret that we cannot currently support library access or privileges for alumni and other Yale affiliates. Alumni who have purchased library privileges may apply for a refund by emailing askyalelibrary@yale.edu. We invite all interested researchers to take full advantage of the library's large and growing  digital collections

2. Who may access library buildings and reading rooms? Sept. 25, 2020

Until further notice, only Yale students, faculty, and staff who have been approved for return to campus will be admitted. 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 1 for some additional requirements 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.

We regret that we cannot admit other Yale affiliates or non-Yale visitors at this time, due to restrictions on campus visitors, compliance with public health guidelines, and the University's prioritization of support for Yale teaching and research. We invite you to visit our digital collections and online exhibitions

3. How can I access general collection materials on-campus? Sept. 18, 2020

Faculty, staff, and students with approved campus access may use the links in Orbis and Quicksearch to request materials for pickup at service desks in Bass Library, Marx Library, Haas Arts Library, and the Divinity Library. Please note: Access to the Divinity Library is currently limited to Divinity School faculty and staff. Other students and faculty with approved campus access may request access to the Divinity Library by contacting katherine.antos@yale.edu. If you are requesting to pick up material at the Divinity Library, please keep this step in mind. 

To pick up materials in Sterling Library, 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 (just inside the main entrance from Cross-Campus.) Contactless pickup is also available at Cushing/Whitney Medical Library.

For those authorized to be in the libraries, most general collections are open for browsing. The following reading rooms in Sterling Library are closed, with different ways to access collection materials:

  • 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. 

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

The Sterling stacks remain 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.

Students living in residential colleges or on campus graduate housing may request books and other library materials for delivery to their college or dorm.  Please use the "Send to home address or residential college" link in Orbis or Quicksearch. More information can be found on our Get it@Yale website.

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. 

4. How can I access general collection material from off-campus? (Sept. 25, 2020)

Students enrolled remotely or living off-campus,  faculty, and staff may request books for delivery to their home addresses. Please use the "Send to home address or residential college" link in Orbis or Quicksearch. More information can be found on our Get it@Yale website

Please note: If you are not authorized for campus access and have accidentally requested books for contactless pickup or at a library service desk, 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. 

5. How can I access special collections materials? Sept. 3, 2020

The special collections reading rooms in Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Manuscripts and Archives, Haas Arts Library, the Divinity Library, and (as of Sept. 21) Lewis Walpole Library are open by appointment only for Yale faculty and staff authorized to work on campus, graduate and professional students, and Yale College students enrolled in residence who have completed the required quarantine period. Music library special collections material 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. 

The Lewis Walpole Library in Farmington will reopen its reading room the week of Sept. 21, by appointment, with seating 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 currently digitizing materials for fall 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. Please note that 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. 

6.  What precautions are you taking to protect library users and staff and minimize risk of infection? Sept. 3, 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 reduce use of elevators and stairways or because they could not be reconfigured to support the required physical distance between  users and staff.

In reopened library spaces, 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 will be 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 will be 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 will still have the option of a no-contact library pickup service. The service previously operated in Thain Café has reopened in the Sterling Library nave. Contactless pickup is available at the medical library as well. At other library locations, pickups will be at service desks.
  •  Books and other 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 is also being 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. 

7. How is the library supporting students who are enrolled remotely? Sept. 3, 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 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 our Get it@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 can 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.

8. Is there a limit on the number of items I can request for pickup or scanning?

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

9. 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.  It 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. 

10. When will I be able to request books via interlibrary loan (ILL) and BorrowDirect again?  Sept. 25, 2020

BorrowDirect service has resumed as of Sept. 25 for current students, faculty, and staff. You may request books from BorrowDirect for pickup at multiple library locations, including through the contactless pickup service in the Sterling Library nave. BorrowDirect books generally arrive within two to four business days. We are working to include BorrowDirect in our new options for delivery to campus housing or home addresses. We will update the Get it at Yale page when this aspect of the service is available, probably in early October.

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.

As you select your pickup location for BorrowDirect materials, please 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.

Currently, seven of the 13 BorrowDirect institutions are lending from at least some of their library collections, and more are expected to resume participation in the coming weeks. (When fully up and running, BorrowDirect offers access to some 80 million books.) Many of the books that are currently available as e-books through the HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS) will also be unavailable through BorrowDirect since 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 continue to accept and fill ILL requests for scanned articles and book chapters, as we did throughout the campus shutdown, based on availability of materials from partner libraries. We will resume accepting requests for physical materials through ILL when we have the capacity to do a high level of shipping and receiving of collection materials. ILL borrowing, as always, is dependent on partner libraries being open and staffed to process requests.

11. I have overdue library materials. Where should I return them? Sept. 18, 2020

Borrowers in the New Haven area may return library materials to the bookdrops at Sterling, Bass, Haas Arts Library, Marx Science and Social Science Library, and Cushing/Whitney Medical Library. If you do not currently have access to campus and have library materials that you wish to return now, please 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. 

12. 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.

13. 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. 

14. Is the library accepting purchase requests for print and e-books from faculty? 

At this time, we are not buying print materials because the staff who receive and process new purchases are still working remotely under the university's phased reopening plan. However, you may place a purchase request for any title, and if it is available in electronic form, we will purchase it. If it is available only in print, we will hold your request and order it when print purchases resume; you will be notified by email when your requested material is available. Until then, please contact a subject specialist librarian for help identifying other relevant resources.  

15. 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 askyalelibrary@yale.edu. See also our COVID-19 library updates for additional information about the library's ongoing response to the pandemic.

Last modified: 
Friday, September 25, 2020 - 5:23pm