COVID-19 Update: Library Reopening FAQ

Reopening Summary updated July 2

As of July 2, Yale ID holders may request general collection library materials for pickup at Thain Cafe at Bass Library from Haas Arts Library, Sterling Library, Gilmore Music Library,  Bass Library, and the Library Shelving Facility. Yale faculty, students, and staff may also request digital scans of chapters and articles from these collections through the library's Scan and Deliver service. Scanning and digitization services will resume July 7 at the Beinecke Library and the following week at Manuscripts and Archives and Music Library Special Collections. Contact individual special collection repositories to discuss class-support and research needs for fall.  Except for the Thain/Bass pickup location, library buildings and spaces remain closed to library users, but planning is underway to reopen reading rooms and other spaces this fall. 

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Planning is underway to resume scanning and borrowing for other Yale Library collections later this summer. Start dates will be posted in this FAQ when confirmed. We anticipate adding in-person use of reading rooms and access to other library spaces for the fall semester as public health guidance and building logistics allow. 

2. How does the pickup service work? 

Use the “Request for pickup at Thain Café at Bass Library” 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 then quarantined for 36 hours before they are made available for pickup. Since disinfectant products should not be used on library collections, we are using a quarantine period to mitigate the spread of the COVID virus on collection surfaces. You will be notified by email when your materials are ready and given a two-day window for picking them 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 by pickup date and alphabetical order of last name. If you made multiple requests on different days, the materials will probably be on different carts. 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?

Library staff are following all state and university public health guidelines, including social distance, wearing masks, frequent handwashing, sanitizing and disinfecting of workspaces and machinery, and self-monitoring for symptoms. To mitigate the spread of virus on collection surfaces, we are quarantining all items for 36 hours after they are returned to the library and again before patron pickups.  For health and safety reasons, 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?

Currently, we are filling Scan and Deliver requests within one or two business days, and pickup requests from the Sterling and Bass collections within two business days. Pickup requests from other locations will take 5 -7 business days, to accommodate delivery schedules, lower staffing levels, and workflows that have been modified to protect staff and patrons. Turnaround times also depend on the volume of requests,  which tends to rise over the course of the summer. 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?

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. Materials requested for pickup will be quarantined inside paper bags for a minimum of 36 hours before they are made available for you to pickup.

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 my 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?

At this point, we are offering in-person pickup only, but we are exploring the feasibility of sending and receiving books by mail. If and when we can make that service available, we will inform faculty, staff, and students by email.

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?

At this time, we are prioritizing return of library materials checked out by 2020 Yale College graduates, and we are 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 or Bass. (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, parking lots across campus remain freely accessible for all. 

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?

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

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? 

We are encouraging faculty to identify course materials as early as possible so that we time to identify and secure e-versions. For a head start on Fall 2020 course reserves, request a Canvas early course site. This site will allow you to use the course reserves module to place reserve requests for e-books, scans, and streaming audio or video. Once Canvas is fully available for Fall 2020, library staff will help you transfer the items in your early course site to the actual Canvas course site for Fall 2020. Follow our step-by-step instructions on using the course reserves module in Canvas or email questions to

For questions not answered here, email

Last modified: 
Thursday, July 2, 2020 - 4:01pm