UPDATED: COVID-19 Library Service FAQ

This post was last updated at 10:46 p.m. on June 12, 2020

Are Library buildings open?  

No, all 41 Library locations, opens a new window are closed to the public until further notice.

However, our eBranch is open 24/7 and we are here to help by phone, email or chat seven days a week. Drive-thru services have begun at many of our locations. We are also hosting live online events regularly. Check our calendar for more information. For your convenience, we also have resource demos and recorded events that can be accessed on-demand.

Beginning the week of June 15, access to computers, printers, and fax machines will be available at the downtown Main Library.

Beginning the week of June 22, we’ll open a few additional locations to provide this service. We’ll provide you with more details as we work them out.  

Leadership continues to assess the closure status on a regular basis. The Library's ReStart Plan will guide and support the reopening of our 42 facilities, phasing in services, and bringing back staff over the next weeks and months, in accordance with Ohio Governor DeWine's gradual reopening plan.

Is Library drive-thru open? 

We have begun opening the drive-thrus at our facilities that have them. Here are the details:  

  • Drive-thrus are at these locations: Covedale, Groesbeck, Harrison, Reading, and the Downtown Main Library. Symmes does not have a drive-thru, but is now offering curbside service.
  • The drive-thru hours of operation are 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday-Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. Drive-thru is closed on Sundays. (Beginning June 15, all open locations will be operating from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.)
  • We will be contacting customers and scheduling appointments to pick up current holds.

Is curbside pickup available? 

  • Yes, several locations are now offering curbside service. We will be adding curbside services to more locations throughout the month of June, and we will keep you posted as dates and locations are firmed up. 

  • For the first 2-3 weeks, we will be contacting customers and scheduling appointments to pick up current holds.

Is the Virtual Information Center open? 

Yes. The Library’s Virtual Information Center, opens a new window is currently open for chat and calls. Call 513-369-6900 between 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday. You can send an email at any time and staff will respond as soon as they are able. You can also schedule My Librarian one-on-one appointments, opens a new window

Can I return Library materials I have checked out? 

Yes, all locations are accepting returns through their book drops, except Greenhills and Price Hill.

While our preference is for you to hold on to your Library materials at this time, we do understand that some of you have a need to return them. 

Please know that due dates for materials have automatically been extended and no one is incurring late fees through the end of 2020.  

Will I be fined for overdue materials?

No. We are automatically extending due dates during the Library's closure and you will not be fined for late materials through the end of 2020.

What happens to my holds while the Library is closed and can I place new holds on physical materials?

Please let us know if there are items you no longer need by updating your account onlineemailing us, or calling us at 513-369-6900. This will help us work quickly through our backlog of over 14,000 existing holds as we open up the system and accept new hold requests. 

As of June 1, we're now allowing you to place new holds for physical materials. Thank you for your patience. 

You're an organization that users taxpayer dollars to serve the public. How can you close?  

We are following the state's plan outlined by the Ohio Department of Health. Our closure is based on the Governor’s decision to extend the Stay at Home order through May 29, as well as the fact that gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited. We'll reassess as we get closer to that date or hear further recommendations from the Governor.

I've heard afternoon meals are being served to kids while schools are closed. What are the details?

While our Libraries are closed, weekday, curbside meals are available for youth, ages 18 and under, at select Library locations. Children must be present to receive a meal. Times and locations are listed on our website's after school meals page. Meal service locations and serving times are subject to change and will continue through the summer months. 

Can I sign up for a Library card digitally while the Library is closed to the public?

Yes! We have launched a streamlined library card application for the downloadable card, opens a new window, that allows immediate access to electronic materials, including eBooks and eAudiobooks on our eBranch.

The downloadable card is available for all ages, and we’ve relaxed ID verification so that the card can quickly be moved from temporary status. Once we are back to offering some type of in-person services, we will follow-up with you to verify your address and update your card type if you so choose.  

This only applies to new cards. If you already have a card, please continue to use it. If you have a temporary number now, you can call 513-369-6900 and our staff will help you get a permanent card number.

Can I still book a meeting or study room?  

Because all Library locations are closed until further notice, meeting and study rooms are also currently closed in order to prevent the transmission of illness. You cannot reserve a room while Library facilities are closed. We will reassess the situation as things evolve, so please stay tuned for more details by signing up to receive email, opens a new window alerts or follow us on Facebook, opens a new windowTwitter, opens a new window, and Instagram, opens a new window @cincylibrary.   

When will events at the Library resume?

All in-person Library programming events are currently canceled until further notice, however we have been busy creating many new live and recorded virtual programs and presentations.

We will reassess the situation as it evolves, so please stay tuned for more details by signing up to receive email alerts, opens a new window or following us on Facebook, opens a new windowTwitter, opens a new window, and Instagram, opens a new window @cincylibrary.

Can I still check out physical materials?

Yes, you may check out physical materials at any of our drive-thru locations or curbside pickup locations. 

Are book, CD, and other material donations being accepted?  

No. Please hold any donations you may have until further notice. In addition, The Friends of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County and The Anderson Township Library Association are not accepting donations at this time.

Which resources may I access online if the Library is not currently open? 

We have a wealth of digital resources available for free 24/7 with a Library card. Visit our eBranch, opens a new window to learn more.

I'm a teacher who receives collections of books for my classroom. Can I still do that while you’re closed? Will the books currently checked out on my Educator Card incur late fees?

We can assemble and loan digital book collections for your students. Please send an email to purchase@chpl.org with your request. You will not incur late fees for books currently checked out with your Educator Card. Due dates have been automatically extended through the end of 2020.

Can I complete the Census at the Library?   

You may complete the U.S. Census digitally by visiting 2020census.gov. Beginning the week of June 15, access to computers, printers, and fax machines will be available at the downtown Main Library. A Library staff member can assist you with filling out the Census after that time. 

I heard that the Library recently furloughed some staff and cut hours for others. Does that mean the services that were being provided by phone and online will be scaled back?

No. The Library will not cut back on any of the services we have been providing during the pandemic. In fact, we are increasing the variety and number of our online programs. Please check our calendar regularly for new opportunities.

Have any Library staff tested positive for COVID-19?

One staff member did test positive for COVID-19 and was able to recover at home. This occurred well after the Library closed on March 13, 2020, so no staff or customers would have had an opportunity to come into contact with this person when they were carrying the virus.

How can I get updates about the Library’s operations?  

To access all Library service updates and resources regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus), please visit chpl.org/covid19.

Have additional questions? Contact our Virtual Information Center via email, live chat (on our homepage), or by phone at (513) 369-6900. For more Library service updates and resources regarding COVID-19 please click here, opens a new window