COVID-19 Update: Library Reopening FAQ

Resuming Library Services updated August 7

Summary: Yale faculty, students, and staff may now request library materials from multiple collections for a contact-free pickup service at two different locations: Thain Cafe at Bass Library and just outside the entrance to Cushing/Whitney Medical Library.

Yale ID holders may request digital scans of chapters and articles from the general collections of Bass Library, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library, Gilmore Music Library, Haas Arts Library, the Library Shelving Facility, the Reference Library of the Yale Center for British Art, and Sterling Memorial Library. We continue to accept and fill ILL requests for scanned articles and book chapters, based on availability of materials at our partner libraries.

Digitization of special collection materials have resumed at Beinecke Library, Manuscripts and Archives, and the medical library with priority given to requests supporting Yale teaching and research. We are finalizing plans for researcher visits to special collection reading rooms this fall, by appointment only.

Except for the two contact-free pickup locations, library buildings and spaces remain closed to library users. Dates and details for fall semester reopening will be forthcoming soon.  See COVID-19 library updates for more details.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. I am interested in materials from other library collections. When will they become available? August 7, 2020

Over the next few weeks, we will resume scanning and borrowing of materials at Marx Library for Science and Social Science and the Divinity Library. Exact dates will be posted in this FAQ when confirmed. We are finalizing plans to re-open library buildings and spaces to the campus community for the fall semester. This will include visits to special collection reading rooms by appointment.  Details will be posted here soon. 

2. How does the pickup service work? August 7, 2020

Use the “Request for pickup at Thain Café at Bass Library” or the “Request for pickup at the medical library entrance” link in Orbis and Quicksearch to place your request. The link will be present only for collection materials that can be checked out at this time. The requested materials will be pre-checked-out to you and you will be notified by email when your materials are ready to pick up.

Thain Café hours are 10 am to 3 pm, Monday through Friday. Enter from Cross Campus using the Bass Library entrance on the Wall St. side. You must wear a face covering and maintain at least six feet of distance from others.  Materials will be bagged and arranged on carts in alphabetical order of last name. Please move through the space as quickly as possible. Maintain social distance and follow the marked one-way path to exit on the Elm Street side. Do not stop inside to open your bag or check its contents. Unneeded materials may be returned to the bookdrop located at the Bass entrance on the Wall St. side.  

3. What precautions are you taking to protect library users and staff and minimize risk of infection? updated July 31, 2020

Library staff are following state and university public health guidance and will adapt workflows and procedures as needed if the guidance changes. Current practices included reduced occupany of library spaces, social distancing, minimizing handoffs of materials between staff, wearing masks within six feet of library materials, washing or sanitizing hands before and after touching library materials, sanitizing and disinfecting of workspaces and machinery, and staff self-monitoring for symptoms. All items returned by users to the library are quarantined for 48 hours before being discharged and reshelved by staff.  Currently, no library users are allowed inside the library beyond Thain Café, and materials can be borrowed only through the process outlined above. During pickup hours, Thain Café is unstaffed, but monitored remotely by library security. 

4. What are the turnaround times for pickup and scanning requests? Updated August 7, 2020

Currently, we are filling Scan and Deliver requests within one or two business days. Pickup up requests at Thain Cafe for materials shelved at Sterling and Bass are being filled within two business days. Pickups at Thain Cafe of materials that are held at other locations may take longer depending on delivery schedules, staffing levels, and workflows that have been modified to protect staff and patrons. Turnaround times also depend on the volume of requests,  which will rise as the semester approaches. To avoid delays, please request materials for fall semester teaching and research as soon as possible.

5. Is there a limit on the number of items I can request for pickup/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.

6. When I pick up library materials, should I clean or disinfect them? July 31, 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. We encourage users to wash or disinfect hands before and after using library materials. 

7. I had books on the hold shelf when the library buildings closed. Can I pick them up?

If you have hold items in Sterling or Bass that you still wish to check out, please email We will prepare your items for pickup at Thain Café, following the procedures outlined in question No. 2. At this time, we do not have a pickup process for books on hold at other locations (such as the Divinity Library or Haas Arts Library). 

8. I have books and personal materials in a carrel in Sterling Library or in a Bass Library locker.  Can I pick them up?

Please email, and we will prepare your items for pickup at Thain Café, following the procedures outlined in question No. 2. 

9. I can’t get to campus to pick up books because I live far away.  Can you send books to me? August 7, 2020

At this point, we are offering in-person pickup only, but we are working on a mail-to-address service for the fall. We will email faculty, staff, and students with details as they become available.

10. When will I be able to request books from Interlibrary Loan (ILL) and BorrowDirect again?  

BorrowDirect will not resume until Yale and at least a few of our Ivy Plus partner libraries are able to begin lending materials beyond their home institutions. Throughout the campus shutdown, we have continued to accept and fill ILL requests for scanned articles and book chapters, based on availability. 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? updated July 20, 2020

At this time, we are prioritizing return of library materials checked out by 2020 Yale College graduates, and we are in the process of sending that group pre-paid mailing labels to facilitate their returns. Borrowers in the New Haven area may return library materials to the dropboxes at Sterling, Bass, or Cushing/Whitney Medical Library. (All other dropboxes remain closed.) We are asking all others to hold onto library materials, including BorrowDirect and ILL, until further notice. All due dates have been extended to September and all 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. Is there parking near the Thain/Bass pickup site?

There is no dedicated parking for this service at this time. 

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? updated July 31

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 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 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.  

16. When and how should faculty submit reserve requests for Fall 2020 courses? updated July 31, 2020

We are encouraging faculty to identify course materials as early as possible so that we time to identify and secure e-versions. Use the course reserves module in Canvas to place reserve requests for e-books, scans, and streaming audio or video. Follow our step-by-step instructions on using the course reserves module in Canvas or email questions to Please note: To ensure that students on- and off-campus will have access to the same course materials, fall 2020 course reserves will be limited to materials available online. There will be no physical reserves in the libraries this fall. 

For questions not answered here, use the live chat service at Ask Yale Library  or email  

Last modified: 
Friday, August 7, 2020 - 2:06pm