Berkeley Public Library Response to COVID-19 Coronavirus

Updated March 20, 2020


We know how important the Library's collections, programs, and facilities are for you. Berkeley Public Library is one of the busiest public libraries, per capita, in the nation. Berkeley uses and loves its Libraries! We are dedicated to continuing to serve you.

How long will the Library be closed?

Per the updated Shelter at Home Order, the Library will be closed at least through May 3. The rapidly changing pace of the response to COVID-19 by the City of Berkeley and the State of California means we do not yet know how long the Library will be closed, nor do we know the extent of the emergency period in general. We will continue to provide updates here on our website and via the Library's e-newsletter.

What Library resources can I access while Library locations are closed?

The Library's abundant digital offerings, including eBooks, eAudiobooks, streaming movies, research databases and digital magazines and newspapers are available to you 24/7 with your library card. In addition, we offer many opportunities for eLearning. Build valuable job skills, learn a new language, support learning at home efforts, explore new artistic techniques, and more - all from your personal device.

Can I check out more eBooks and eAudiobooks while the Library is closed?

Yes! We have increased lending limits on our most popular eResources so you can maximize your reading, listening, and viewing experiences from home:

  • OverDrive: You can now check out 10 books and reserve 12 titles in OverDrive. We are purchasing new titles daily and we offer a large library of e-books and e-audiobooks for you to choose from.
  • Hoopla: We have also increased the monthly checkout limit to 10 items in Hoopla. Hoopla offers music, books, and videos on all types of subjects, such as fitness at home, with no waiting and no holds. Hoopla is now offering a number of titles (both for children and adults) that do not count towards your monthly limits.
  • Kanopy: On Kanopy, we have raised our limit to 10 movies a month. Kanopy Kids, which has a variety of educational and entertaining movies and videos, is now unlimited for our library patrons. Kanopy has also made accessible a number of movies that will not count towards your monthly limit during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Enki: The Enki Library allows you to borrow up to 20 eBooks at a time from a large selection of works published by independent publishers, including UC Press, McGraw-Hill, and many small and medium-sized publishers. The Enki Library was designed and curated by public libraries to help you find unique and engaging reads not accessible through commercial e-Book platforms.

What if my items are due during the closure? Will I accrue late fees?

All physical materials due from January 1, 2020 through April 30, 2020 are now due on June 1, 2020.
Since July 1, 2018, Berkeley Public Library has been fine free - no late fees will accrue on your account.

Can I drop off my materials in the Library's book drops?

No. Book drops are closed. Please do not attempt to return materials until further notice. Do not leave materials outside of the library; you will be held responsible for the cost of the items if you do so. We will let you know when the book drops reopen. In the meantime, your materials' loan periods have been extended through June 1, 2020.

I have Link+ items. Those items’ due dates haven’t been extended. What should I do?

Please hold onto those materials until the Library reopens. Link+ borrowing and lending is currently suspended. The Library cannot automate renewal or change the due dates for Link+ materials. However, we have received assurance that participating libraries will waive all fees associated with late return of materials once those materials are returned after the Library reopens. 

Why can't I place holds on materials in the catalog?

Due to the City of Berkeley's shelter in place order, the Library cannot process holds of physical items until that order is lifted because Library staff are currently assigned to essential, disaster service work or are sheltering at home. If you want to keep track of materials so you can place holds at a later time, we recommend using the catalog's "Saved Lists" feature, which allows you to create and save lists of materials for later review and access. To learn how, read the section on "Saved Lists" on our Catalog Help page.  

What if some of my holds are ready for pick up?

They will remain on the hold shelf for you and we will provide plenty of time to pick them up after we reopen. Please disregard the Pick-Up By Date listed in your holds notice.

Will the Library deliver materials to my home or mail materials to me?

No. Library staff are sheltering at home or are assigned essential disaster-service responsibilities at this time. The Books by Mail service is on hiatus until sheltering at home becomes unnecessary.

My library card is about to expire. How can I renew it?

Any library card with an expiration date of January 1, 2019 through June 1, 2020 will now expire on October 1, 2020.

I have a question about my account or how to use the online resources. Is there anyone who can help me?

If you have any questions about your account or how to access digital resources, please use our Contact Us form.  We will respond to inquiries as soon as possible. However, please realize that your questions may not be immediately answered due to the current conditions. Library staff are currently assigned to essential, disaster service work or are sheltering at home.

Are other City of Berkeley facilities and services affected too?

Yes. For the latest updates from the City of Berkeley, please read the news releases available here:

Reliable Information

Misinformation can be rampant during a crisis. In addition to the City of Berkeley website, the following resources contain reliable information on COVID-19 coronavirus:

Keeping One Another Safe

We miss seeing you in our Libraries!

We would prefer to be helping you find that perfect book to dive into or welcoming you in to participate in one of our daily programs or events. We understand how difficult this time is for many of you and for our community at large. Like you, we cannot wait until this ends.

However, this is the time we must come together, by staying apart. Collective action will help stem the tide of community spread. City of Berkeley Health Officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez advises: "Our personal and group actions have great power." Stay home, follow the guidelines and recommendations from Berkeley Public Health; share updates from credible resources to quell misinformation; enjoy the e-resources your Library card provides access to 24/7.

Thank you for your support and understanding as we all work together to help keep one another safe. We are looking forward to welcoming you back through our doors when we reopen. In the meantime, we will continue to provide updates on this page and via our newsletter.