NYC public libraries to open all remaining available locations

The city’s three public library systems — The New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Public Library — will open all of their remaining available branch locations and begin introducing a model of service in July that brings them closer to pre-pandemic services.
Photo Max Touhey

The city’s three public library systems — The New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Public Library — will open all of their remaining available branch locations and begin introducing a model of service in July that brings them closer to pre-pandemic services.

Following a temporary closure of all of their physical locations last year to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the three public library systems have been reinstituting in-person services in phases, beginning with the reopening of a portion of locations for grab-and-go service in July 2020, followed by the gradual expansion of service at additional locations. They then expanded and maintained services as circumstances allowed while maintaining the robust virtual resources offered throughout the pandemic.

Throughout the month of July 2021,  the three public library systems will restore most of their pre-pandemic services, including:

  • Opening all remaining locations (except for those under construction, in need of repairs or in use by New York City as COVID-19 testing centers or vaccination sites, among other temporary uses)
  • Allowing unlimited, untimed browsing
  • Allowing general library use, including — for the first time since March 2020 — open, untimed seating
  • Returning to pre-pandemic computer use, including laptop loan
  • Reinstating or expanding bookmobile service
  • Beginning to offer indoor public programs and classes, as feasible (it will likely take weeks or months to return programming to full capacity). Some locations are offering outdoor programs during the summer.
  • Expanding public service hours, as feasible

Each system will implement these changes on a slightly different timeline depending on staff capacity, but by the end of July all three systems will be well on their way to a return to pre-pandemic service.

On July 6, the iconic Rose Main Reading Room, at the 42nd Street library, will be open to walk-in visitors for the first time since March 2020. Photo Max Touhey

It is important to note that each system will continue to waive overdue fines through at least September 2021 and mandate certain safety protocols.

“We know how important public libraries are to New Yorkers and to the reawakening and recovery of our great city,” New York Public Library President Anthony W. Marx said. “As we move into our hopeful next chapter, we need libraries to be strong, and doing everything possible to support our communities, including and especially the most vulnerable. We, like all New Yorkers, have been eagerly moving toward the moment we can more fully restore a familiar, near pre-pandemic service model throughout the system, and are so excited that — thanks to the vaccination progress — that moment is now. We must remain vigilant and patient, with safety remaining our priority. But to now be able to open all of our available locations, and to welcome all New Yorkers back to think, learn, grow, and unlock doors of opportunity — this a big moment for our City. We look forward to seeing everyone here.”

For the most updated information, visit the library website at nypl.org.

The New York Public Library (which covers the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island)

  • All available locations will be open on Tuesday, July 6 (nine branches will be unavailable because they are under construction or need repairs. Those include. Hunts Point and Melrose in the Bronx; Fort Washington, Grand Central, Hamilton Fish, Jefferson Market and Terence Cardinal Cooke-Cathedral in Manhattan; and Port Richmond and Charleston in Staten Island. An additional five branches are currently in use by the city and will open as soon as possible in July. Those include Riverdale, Mariners Harbor, St. Agnes, Dongan Hills and Hamilton Grange)
  • All locations will offer unlimited browsing, desktop computer use, laptop loan and general library use, including open seating.
  • In-person public programs and classes will begin being reinstated in July. It may take several weeks and months to return to a full slate of indoor programs and classes. Outdoor programs are being planned throughout July.
  • All research centers are currently open by appointment only; as of July 6, while appointments will still be required for most collections use (as they were pre-pandemic), service will be expanded to permit some walk-in visitors. For example, those who want to engage in quiet study, thought, computer use and so on will be able to access public reading rooms at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, including the iconic Rose Main Reading Room. Those looking to just view the iconic room must enter as part of an NYPL-led tour. Watch nypl.org/appointmentsfor updated information on what each research center requires and offers; it will be updated in the coming weeks.
  • The rooftop space at the newly-transformed Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL) at 40th Street and Fifth Avenue will open. The renovated central circulating branch, which officially opened on June 1, will now have nearly all eight floors open for near pre-pandemic service (the exception is the Pasculano Learning Center, which will open in September). There are strict capacities on the roof space, so it will be first-come, first-served.
  • Pre-pandemic hours are expected to return on Monday, July 19 (with some slight alterations considering current usage patterns); patrons should check nypl.org before visiting for the most up-to-date hours.
  • Masks remain mandatory at all NYPL locations.

More from Around NYC