COVID-19 Impacts on the Toronto Public Library
Grey-Lockdown restrictions and TPL
Now that Toronto will be moving into Grey-Lockdown next week, we’ll be able to offer a few more services inside library branches beginning Wednesday, March 10. Please check back here for updates and more information on available services.
What you need to know
- All Toronto Public Library branches will be open on Saturday, March 6, Monday, March 8 and Tuesday, March 9 for contactless holds pick-up and drop-off of library materials only. This will allow us to adjust services to align with the new regulations.
- Library branches will open on Wednesday, March 10 with limited in-branch services. In addition to the in-person and online services currently available, you will be able to:
- Check out your holds and the grab & go bags yourself using our self-checkout stations.
- Reserve a computer for a maximum of 60 minutes. You may print, photocopy, use a scanner and access our Wi-Fi service during your session.
- Sign up for a library card. Please check the list of identification options before going to register.
- Home Library Service resumes with limited contactless service in a phased approach, beginning with deliveries to private homes.
- Check out your holds and the grab & go bags yourself using our self-checkout stations.
How to prepare for your visit and what to expect
- Before coming to our branches, please make sure you review the health and safety protocols. While you’re in the branch, your use of library space will be limited to the holds pick-up and computer workstation areas. Washrooms will also be available for use. For your safety and the safety of others, other areas of the branch will not be available for use.
- We are looking forward to having you back! However, in-person interactions are limited, which means staff won’t be able to offer physically close or extended support like we were used to. As always, please remember to wear your mask, practice physical distancing and be kind. This continues to be a challenging time for us all, and we’re doing our best to safely serve you.
- We’ll be monitoring building capacity numbers, so you might have wait outside the branch. As a courtesy to others, please do not stay in the library longer than you need. Your cooperation is truly appreciated. Thank you ahead of time!
Don’t forget you can use a variety of our online services from home – from ebooks, eaudiobooks, movies and music, to online programs and learning tools. If you don’t have a library card, you can sign up for a Digital Access Card to get immediate access to TPL’s digital resources and services.
TPL branches are open for contactless holds pick-up and drop-off of library materials only, and maintain current operational hours. All other services are not available at this time. Our services align with the provincial emergency regulations to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Please check back here for updates and more information on available services.
On this page
- Available in person
- Suspended services due to restrictions
- Available online
- What you need to know before visiting
- What we're doing to keep you and our staff safe
- COVID-19 cases update
- Frequently asked questions
- COVID-19 resources
Library branches are open for contactless holds pick-up and drop-off of materials only. Open library branches have regular operational hours but there is no Sunday Service.
Before coming to our branches, please make sure you review the health and safety protocols. While you’re in the branch, your use of library space will be limited to the holds pick-up area only.
You are able to:
- Place holds on materials and pick them up at open library branches. Appointments are not be required. What's changed? You have 14 days to pick up your holds once they are available. When you arrive to pick up your holds, you will need to wait in line outside the branch. A staff member will help you once it's your turn. One customer will be served at a time.
- Return your library materials at most branch drop boxes. What's changed? When items are returned, they are first quarantined and then checked back into our system. So items will remain on your account for at least 6-8 days before we are able to process your return. We're not charging fines at this time.
- Borrow a curated bag of books, DVDs and/or CDs. All ages, all interests. Available at most branches.
- 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. Book club sets are quarantined when they are returned and may remain on your account for 6-8 days.
- Bookmobile service is 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.
- Wi-Fi service is available outside library branches.
The following library services are unavailable during the provincial emergency.
- Use of library space is limited to the holds pick-up area. Other areas of the branch such as washrooms, computer workstations, study spaces, KidsStops, Discovery Zones and Youth Hubs are not available for use.
- Washrooms are not available.
- Computer services including printing, photocopying and scanning are not available.
- Due to provincial restrictions on malls, library branches located inside malls without separate entrances are closed. These branches are not offering drop box service at this time.
- In-person library card registration is unavailable. Toronto residents who are 13 years or older who wish to use our digital resources and services only can sign up online for a Digital Access Card.
- Home Library Service is not available.
- Services at Digital Innovation Hubs and the Fabrication Studio are not available.
- Sun Life Musical Instrument Lending Library is not available.
- Research Appointments are not available.
- Experience free and high quality programming from home.
- Use a variety of our online services - from ebooks, eaudiobooks, movies and music, to online programs 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.
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.
- Wear a mask or face covering while inside and while waiting in line outside the branch. Learn more about the library's policy on Mandatory Use of Mask or Face Covering within Toronto Public Library Branches.
- Keep a distance of 6 feet or 2 metres from others when waiting in line and when entering the branch to pick up your holds.
- Wash or sanitize your hands often, before and after touching materials.
- Food and drink, other than closed water bottles, are currently not allowed in our branches, as it would require our customers to remove their masks.
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.
Returned materials are quarantined for 96 hours or more until they are safe to circulate.
- According to provincial directives and to keep you safe, we are monitoring occupancy capacity at our branches and limiting the number of people inside.
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.
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions we’ve received.
- When I return materials in a dropbox, how long will it take before my account is updated?
When items are returned, they are first quarantined and then checked back into our system. So items will remain on your account for at least 6-8 days before we are able to process your return. During this time, you may receive an overdue notice but you can disregard the message if you've returned your items. No fines will be incurred during this period. We appreciate your patience.
- Why am I not receiving due date email reminders and overdue notifications?
We have temporarily suspended our due date email reminders and overdue notifications. 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.
- I signed up for the Digital Access Card but have temporary access. Will my access be extended?
Yes. Existing temporary Digital Access Cards have been extended.
- I signed up for the Instant Digital Card. Can I continue to use it?
If you would like to continue to use OverDrive, you will need to sign up for a Digital Access Card, as the Instant Digital Card will permanently expire in 2021. We recommend that you get a Digital Access Card now and begin using it to check out items and place holds and wish list items. A Digital Access Card gives you access to TPL's digital resources and services.
- When will the Museum + Arts Pass (MAP) program resume?
Due to the impact of COVID-19 on our venue partners, the Museum + Arts Pass (MAP) program, including Performing Arts Pass, is postponed until further notice.
Last updated: March 5, 2021 to include information about Grey-Lockdown and TPL.