COVID-19 Impacts

Gryphons with masks

Last updated: November 19, 2021

Step Three library services 

We’re open! Our spaces and services might look a bit different at this time but these changes are in place to keep everyone safe. During Step Three of the Province's three-step roadmap, we have increased the number of people allowed into our branches while still maintaining physical distancing of two metres. Library branches have regular operational hours and many are open on Sundays. Proof of vaccination is not required to enter library branches.

Please remember to wear your mask, even if you’ve been fully vaccinated, and practice physical distancing. For everyone’s safety, in-person services are limited and modified, and staff cannot offer the same extended support as we used to. Individuals who refuse to wear a mask without declaring a medical or legal exemption, whether at a branch or waiting in line outside, will be refused service. 

We have adopted a mandatory vaccination policy for TPL staff with the goal of protecting employees and the people we serve. The health and safety of our staff and customers has been our foremost priority throughout the pandemic, and mandatory vaccination is one more thing we can do to protect ourselves and each other. We are now offering free printing for proof of vaccination at any TPL branch, as well as free wifi and computers to access your documents.

Thank you for your cooperation, and stay safe. Please check back for updates on available library services.

On this page


Available in person

Most library branches are open for indoor contactless holds pick-up and drop-off of library materials, computer services including printing, photocopying and scanning, and washrooms. You can browse physical collections, sign up for a library card, use our quiet study spaces and access quick information services at most branches. Some of our children’s areas and Youth Hubs are open with limited access. 

All other in-branch services are currently unavailable. Library branches have regular operational hours and many are open on Sundays. Before coming to our branches, please make sure you review the health and safety protocols

Library card Person studying

Borrowing materials

  • Browse and borrow items.

  • Place holds on materials online and over the phone and pick them up at open library branches. Appointments are not required. You have 7 days to pick up your holds once they are available. 

  • Return your library materials at most branch drop boxes or at the customer service desk. What's changed? We encourage you to make use of external and internal drop boxes. We're not charging fines at this time.

  • Borrow a grab & go bag of books, DVDs and/or CDs. All ages, all interests. Available at most branches. What's changed? A staff member will retrieve a bag for you upon request. You can check the items out by placing the bag onto our self-checkout stations or with library staff.

  • Borrow a musical instrument from one of our Sun Life Musical Instrument Lending Library locations.

  • Borrow a Book Club to Go set for your book club. A list of titles and locations is available on our book clubs page. What’s changed? Please call the branch in advance to reserve the set you are interested in and to arrange a pick-up time.

  • Borrow an Arduino Kit from one of our Digital Innovation Hub locations.

  • Sign up for a library card. Please check the list of identification options before going to register.

Using our spaces

  • Access quiet study tables and spaces to work, read or study. What's changed?  Seating in our branches is limited. 

  • Children's areas are open including access to KidsStops and Discovery Zones.

  • Teens can visit a Youth Hub at select branches to study, use a laptop, get connected to homework help resources or watch an online teen program. What’s changed? At this time, some Youth Hub services and equipment are unavailable. 

Computer services, printing and Wi-Fi

  • Connect and use Wi-Fi (outside 24 hr).

  • Reserve a computer at most library branches including the computers at our Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH). Although walk up use is available, reservations are the only way to guarantee that you can use a computer at a given time. Due to limited access, we strongly recommend making a reservation online or with staff over the phone. What's changed? Customers can book one session once per day per branch. At smaller neighbourhood branches, the session length is 55 minutes. At larger branches, the session length is 80 minutes. 2-hour sessions are available in the Digital Innovation Hubs. In all locations, there are breaks between each session to prepare for the next session with one longer break per day for staff to sanitize the computers.

  • Print and photocopy at most library branches and use a scanner at select branches. 

  • 3D Printing at Digital Innovation Hubs is available by appointment. Please call or visit in person to book your time.

  • Recording Studios at Digital Innovation Hubs are available by appointment. Please call or visit in person to book your time.

  • Sewing machines, vinyl cutter and the heat press at the Fabrication Studio are available by appointment. Please call or visit in person to book your time.

    Please note:
    Computer and device assistance that can be provided by staff may be limited at this time. One-on-one service that does not meet physical distancing guidelines cannot be provided in the interests of the health and safety of both customer and staff. Contact Answerline by phone (416-397-5981) or by email (answerline@tpl.ca) for quick one-on-one assistance. For more extensive help, please contact your local branch or submit a Book a Librarian form to make an appointment. Book a Librarian requests that cannot be safely provided in-person will be offered remotely instead. Customers who are awaiting COVID-19 test results should not book a library computer. If you need assistance in getting your test results, please visit the Toronto Public Health website or call 416-338-7600.

Information services and research help

  • Access quick information services at most branches. For questions about the Book a Librarian service please contact your local branch or Answerline

  • Settlement services are available; settlement agencies continue to offer service by email and telephone. 

Mobile services

  • Bookmobile service and Home Library Service are available with limited contactless service. What’s changed? Our bookmobiles offer holds pick-up service and accept returns; onboard service is not available at this time. Home Library Service has resumed to customers where contactless deliveries can be made safely. Deliveries will be made only to private homes until further notice. Customers can also arrange to pick up library materials at open branches.

 

 


Suspended services due to restrictions

During Step Three, the following in-person services are not available:  

  • Use of library space is limited. 

  • A few library branches remain closed due to COVID-19. We’re working within the COVID-19 response framework provided by the Province of Ontario and under the guidance of public health experts. When deciding when to reopen a branch, we consider a number of safety factors, including branch space, capacity limitations and staffing requirements. Our priority is to open our larger, busier branches and to make sure that we have libraries open in different parts of the city. 

    Alternate pick-up locations for closed branches

    City Hall | Alternate location: Lillian H. Smith

    Swansea Memorial | Alternate location: Runnymede

 


Available online

  • Join our online events for all ages, from storytimes for kids to author interviews and more. 

  • Use a variety of our online services - from ebooks, eaudiobooks, movies and music, to research and learning tools.

  • Sign up for a Digital Access Card to get immediate access to Toronto Public Library’s digital resources and services. To be eligible for a Digital Access Card, you must live in Toronto and be 13 years of age or older.


What you need to know before visiting

how to wear a cloth mask sign
If you are interested in using our in-person services, here are additional steps to take and what you need to know:

  • Take the COVID-19 self-assessment test. If you have symptoms, if you may have been exposed to COVID-19, or if you are awaiting COVID-19 test results, please stay at home and do not visit the library. Customers should visit the Toronto Public Health website or call 416-338-7600 for help accessing their results.

    Please note: If you test positive for COVID-19, or are otherwise diagnosed to have COVID-19, within fourteen days of visiting a library, please contact us immediately and indicate which branch you have visited and when. The library will take appropriate precautions, based on Toronto Public Health guidance.

  • If you've been vaccinated for COVID-19, you must still follow proper safety measures while visiting our branches: 

    wear a face mask icon maintain 2m/6 ft distance from other people icon
    sanitize your hands icon stay home if you're sick icon

  • Food is currently not allowed in our branches. 

  • Each branch is monitoring its occupancy capacity, so you may have to wait your turn to come inside. There’s no limit to the amount of time you can spend at the branch, but as a courtesy to others, please don’t stay longer than you need.


What we're doing to keep you and our staff safe

Library staff waving Physical distancing marker
The health and safety of our staff and our customers continues to be our top priority.

Our services follow the COVID-19 response framework provided by the Province of Ontario, and the advice of the Toronto Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, and follows best practices within library and retail industries. Toronto Public Health has reviewed and endorsed our plans.

Here are some of the measures we have put in place:

  • All staff have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

  • Intensive cleaning of branches has been done in advance, including cleaning of upholstery and special disinfecting of high touch surfaces.

  • Regular cleaning and hand washing protocols are in place.

  • Library branches have proper physical distancing protocols in place. Plexi-glass is in place in certain locations​ where physical distancing protocols cannot be maintained.

  • Computer workstations are two metres apart to ensure physical distancing measures. Workstations are sanitized once per day.

  • According to provincial directives and to keep you safe, we are monitoring occupancy capacity at our branches and limiting the number of people inside.


COVID-19 cases update


We developed a page to keep the public up to date as to when and where COVID positive cases have occurred at TPL locations. The page will be updated every Friday with the current status of confirmed COVID cases among staff and visitors reported to Toronto Public Library. It includes historical data of reported COVID cases to our locations since we reopened, and answers to frequently asked questions about TPL's exposure protocols.  


Frequently asked questions


Here are some answers to frequently asked questions we’ve received. 

  1. Do I need to show proof of vaccination to enter a TPL branch?
    Proof of vaccination is not required. Please remember to wear your mask, even if you’ve been fully vaccinated, and practice physical distancing. For everyone’s safety, in-person services are limited and modified, and staff cannot offer the same extended support as we used to. Individuals who refuse to wear a mask without declaring a medical or legal exemption, whether at a branch or waiting in line outside, will be refused service.

  2. When will you offer in-person programs?
    We’re starting to offer in-person programs with capacity limits at a small number of branches. This is part of our approach to safely reinstating library services. In the next couple of weeks, in-person programs will be posted on our website. In the meantime, you can contact your local library branch to ask about in-person programs.

  3. Will I be charged late fees if I return my item late? 
    We’re encouraging everybody to return items promptly to reduce the wait time for others. However, at this time, if you are unable to return your items to our drop boxes by the due date, you will not be charged fines. No fines will be charged until library branches fully open.

  4. Can I pick up holds for my family or friends? Can someone else pick up my hold(s) for me?
    Yes. If you are picking up holds on behalf of other people, you will need to bring their library card(s).

  5. Can I drop off book donations?
    At this time, we are not accepting book donations or any other items. Please only return borrowed TPL items.

  6. Why is TPL no longer quarantining library materials?
    As of June 21, 2021, TPL has discontinued the quarantine of all library materials, following the Province of Ontario's direction to eliminate the requirement for public libraries to quarantine materials. This change is consistent with scientific evidence regarding the extremely low risk of transmission of COVID-19 on surfaces. It is also consistent with the actions of many Ontario public libraries as well as library systems throughout North America that have discontinued the quarantine of library materials.

    Our staff will continue to adhere to hand-hygiene protocols when handling returned library materials.

  7. When will the Museum + Arts Pass (MAP) program resume?
    The Museum + Arts Pass (MAP) program resumes at most open branches on Saturday, November 20, 2021. Due to the impact of COVID-19 on our venue partners, the Performing Arts Pass program is postponed until further notice.

Additional questions?

If you have any questions about your account or how to access our digital resources, please contact us. You can also connect with us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.


COVID-19 resources

We encourage you to stay informed about COVID-19 by referring to credible sources of information such as our COVID-19 Information Guide and the City of Toronto's COVID-19 website.


Page update details: November 19, 2021 to include information about the MAP program.