COVID-19 Impacts to the Toronto Public Library

Gryphons with masks

Grey-Lockdown category restrictions and TPL

TPL branches are open after a brief closure to prepare our spaces and services for the new restrictions imposed by the province as Toronto entered Grey-Lockdown earlier this week. For everyone’s safety, in-person services are limited and modified. Find out what’s available, what’s not, and how to prepare for a visit. Please check back here for updates and more information about available services.

On this page

Available in person

Library card Customer borrowing items at a self checkout machine

Library branches are open with limited in-branch services. Open 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

Borrowing materials

  • Place holds on materials online and over the phone and pick them up at open library branches. Appointments are not required. What's changed? Once you arrive, we will get your holds for you, and you can check them out yourself using our self-checkout stations or with library staff.

  • 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.

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

  • You can borrow a Book Club to Go set for your book club. A list of titles and locations is available on our book clubs pageWhat’s changed? Book club sets are quarantined when they are returned and may remain on your account for 6-8 days.

Using computer services

  • Reserve a computer at most library branches including the computers at our Digital Innovation Hubs. 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.

  • Print, photocopy and scanWhat's changed? Cash payments are not accepted at this time. Please add money to a copycard account online before you arrive at the library.

    Please note: Computer and device assistance that can be provided by staff is 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. Assistance can be offered remotely by contacting our Answerline service.

Mobile services

  • Bookmobile service and Home Library Service are available with limited contactless service. What’s changed? Our bookmobiles are offering holds pick-up service and accepting returns; onboard service is not available at this time. Home Library Service has resumed to customers where contactless deliveries can be made safely.

Suspended services due to lockdown restrictions

The following library services are unavailable while Toronto is in the Grey-Lockdown category of the Province's COVID-19 response framework.

Available online

What you need to know before visiting

Customer using hand sanitizer at self checkout station

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 or may have been exposed to COVID-19, please stay at home and do not visit the library.

  • Wear a mask or face covering while inside. 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.

  • 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. 

  • 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 after every scheduled session.

  • 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.

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. Why are you still opening branches and offering services?
    We play an important role in the lives of many Torontonians, including vulnerable communities, and we need to ensure that we are equitably serving all residents across the city. Our services are within the guidelines determined by the Province, and following the advice of Toronto Public Health.

  2. Why isn't my branch open yet?
    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.

  3. Which branches are next to reopen?
    We don’t have specific dates or particular branch names yet, but we’ll share the details here once they’re available.

  4. 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.

  5. Why am I not receiving due date email notifications?
    We have temporarily suspended our due date email reminders. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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.


Last updated: Saturday, June 27, 2020 to note 69 branches and 72 branches are available for pick-up service and drop-off service, respectively; additional health & safety information; July 6 to note 70 branches and 73 branches are available for pick-up service and drop-off service, respectively; information about the City of Toronto's Mandatory Mask or Face Covering Bylaw; July 7 to include link to TPL's policy on Mandatory Use of Mask or Face Covering within Toronto Public Library Branches; July 13 and July 20 to include information about additional branches offering scheduled computer access and pick-up service; July 30 and August 10 to include updates and information about Stage 3 library services; August 11 to add infographic image; August 17 to update available services; August 24 to update available services; August 27 to add more FAQs; September 4, 11, 14, 21, 28 and October 2 to add more information about new modified services; October 13 and 21 to include information about modified Stage 2 impacts; October 26 to update information about branches that have reopened; November 6 to include new COVID-19 case update webpage; November 14 to include information about the new Red - Control category restrictions and TPL and new Digital Access Card; November 20 to include information about Grey-Lockdown category restrictions and TPL; November 24 to include additional information about Grey-Lockdown category restrictions and TPL.