Frequently Asked Questions About Library Services During the Pandemic

Which branches are open?
Six branches city-wide provide holds pick-up service and computer use by-appointment: Aldershot, Alton, Brant Hills, Central, New Appleby, and Tansley Woods.

  • No in-branch browsing due to province-wide shutdown (effective April 3) and Provincial State of Emergency (effective April 8)
  • Online programs only
  • No access to microfilm/microfiche, newspapers, reference collections, makerspace, inside return slots
  • No room rental, Visiting Library Services, Interlibrary Loan service

Can I borrow devices from the library?
Along with print books and DVDs, members can borrow a variety of devices: iPads, Fitbits, Kill A Watt monitors, and Lauchpads. Please place a hold on the item you want to borrow, and we’ll contact you by email or phone when it's ready to pick-up. Only return devices in-person to staff. Do not return to outside drop boxes.

Please call the library to arrange the loan of a DAISY reader.

Will library materials be sanitized before I borrow them?
Unfortunately, we can't promise a 'sanitized' or 'disinfected' library experience at any time, not just during this pandemic. Libraries are high-touch environments and many items we loan out do not like liquid cleaning agents. All returned items will be quarantined for 24 hours before check-in. Devices, such as iPads and FitBits, will be wiped down using a cloth and cleaning spray after quarantine.

The health and disease experts we are monitoring agree that the best solution for libraries is to quarantine items when they are returned to us, and to have cleaning and materials handling protocols in place for staff. Health officials recommend a 24-hour quarantine.

Are the workstation desks and quiet room open to the public?
Unfortunately, we do not have designated work/study spaces available at this time.

Do I have to wear a face mask when I come to the library?
Yes. All members of the public must wear a face mask while inside the library as set out in City of Burlington’s Mask By-law - see Related links below. On arrival, visitors are required to wear a face mask for their own safety, especially when physical distancing in public is challenging to maintain.

Halton Region Public Health Commissioner and Medical Officer, Dr. Hamidah Meghani continues to promote that the most effective interventions for reducing the spread of COVID-19 are physical distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene, and staying home when ill.

Why wasn't Central open for browsing with the other branches? It should be easier to maintain physical distance at the largest branch.
It may seem counterintuitive to open smaller locations first; however, Central is large with multiple levels and so more complex to reopen and maintain with regard to new health & safety protocols. Ensuring proper physical distancing is only one factor among many considerations.

We aim to serve the broadest community in the safest way possible to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. To do this, we temporarily removed items and furnishings from other locations so that we have adequate space for proper physical distancing, cleaning and materials handling procedures, and collections management at branches around the city. Central's second and third floors are our overflow storage locations. Prior to closure in March, we had started renovating Central's third floor—our new makerspace area—so displaced collections from the third floor are also now housed on the second floor. The second and third floors are in a continuous state of transition right now.

‘Safety first’ is the top priority and foremost principle guiding Library operations. As we gradually reintroduce library services and programs, you can be confident that we will do so responsibly at the earliest date we can.

I returned an item a few days ago. Why is it still showing on my account?
All returned items are in quarantine for 24-hours before check-in. Check-in and shelving takes longer than usual as we work under new health & safety protocols. Please allow at least 7 weekdays to process your returns before contacting us. We will reply to individual inquiries only after this period, if a returned item remains on your account. Remember: There are no fines charged for overdue items.

Why did I receive an overdue notice for an item I already returned?
We apologize for any confusion due to a courtesy or overdue notice you may have received after returning and item. Due to system constraints, automated notifications continue to send as usual. As noted above, please allow at least 7 weekdays (excluding holidays) to process returned items before contacting us.

How many days do I have to get my ready holds?
You will have 7 open days to retrieve your holds once you've been notified by email or phone.

I have an eCard number. Is this okay to use when I come to pick up my hold items?
Yes. Please have your 14-digit library card number handy when you come to collect and check-out physical items.

When are items due?
The regular loan period applies to all physical items. We understand if you don’t want to come into a public space—or can't get to the library at this time. But if you can, and you are finished with an item, please keep in mind that someone else may be waiting for it. No overdue fines will be charged.

When will library programs start again?
The library now offers virtual programs, both pre-recorded and live - see Related links below. Unfortunately, it’s too soon to venture a guess when onsite programs will start. Much depends on the status of the COVID-19 outbreak and municipal and provincial directions.

Can I use the library WiFi?
Yes, the public WiFi is on and accessible outside the buildings. Just a reminder: the library WiFi is a public network and is never secured. Users accept the risks whenever they use BPL’s WiFi to access the Internet. If you choose to access the WiFi, please respect municipal and provincial physical distancing orders at all time.

I can’t pause some of my holds that I don’t want right now. What do I do?
If you are first in line to get the next available copy or if the hold item is 'in transit'—you cannot pause the hold. We suggest that you first add the title to your For Later Shelf, and then cancel your hold. You can place a hold later when you are ready to borrow the item.

Can I request a book through Interlibrary Loan if the library doesn't have it?
Normally, you could; however, our Interlibrary Loan service is suspended until August 31, 2021 due to the phased reopenings of other library systems in Ontario. If there is a title you would like to see added to our collection, please complete an online Request A Title Form – see Related links below

I want to borrow books but my library card is blocked. What do I do?
Before you come to the library, please pay your outstanding balance through your My BPL account, or contact us at 905.639.3611 for help.

I think my library card is expired. What do I do?
Please give us a call during open hours or contact us online.

I have questions about reopening. Who do I contact?
You can call us during our open hours or contact us online. No phone or email service on holidays.

Library Notices

Virtual programs

Book a library computer/printer appointment

Request A Title

City of Burlington Mask By-law 62-2020

How to Pause a Hold step-by-step

Read a magazine online

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