The City’s three public library systems—The New York Public Library (NYPL), Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), and Queens Public Library (QPL)—are today expanding service at select locations to include limited browsing and computer use. BPL and NYPL are offering by-appointment computer use, and QPL is taking walk-ins.
They have also shared that they plan to open all available branch libraries in the City (except those undergoing renovation or being used by the City) with expanded service by mid-July, with the full complement of services such as general space use, programs, and classes incrementally reinstituted as quickly as circumstances allow.
The three systems, which closed their physical locations in March 2020 to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, have been carefully and gradually reopening locations and reinstituting services to safely serve the New Yorkers who need them. In addition to a robust suite of virtual programs and resources, including e-books, online storytimes, virtual book clubs, and remote homework help, resume assistance, and job search help, the libraries began offering grab-and-go book pickup and on-site library card sign-up in July 2020.
Beginning today in select grab-and-go locations, patrons will also be able to browse shelves for a set period of time and make appointments to use desktop computers. Additionally, in The New York Public Library system, patrons can request an appointment to access collections at research centers, including the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue.
All patrons in all systems must follow safety protocols, including wearing masks, social distancing, and respecting time limits to ensure that as many patrons as possible can utilize services.
While the library systems are closely monitoring circumstances in the City, they expect to add computer use and browsing to all of their grab-and-go locations in the coming weeks and then incrementally open locations until they are all open by mid-July. They are also planning to provide a suite of outdoor programs and continued virtual programs, classes, vaccination resources, and more.
The three Library presidents will testify today at 2 PM at a virtual City Council executive budget hearing to share their future reopening plans, and to explain their budget needs as they move towards a new normal that combines traditional library services with additional, innovative virtual services developed during the temporary closure. They plan to say that to support New Yorkers’ needs during the City’s collective next chapter of recovery and renewal, libraries need to be strong. New Yorkers agree, as a letter-writing campaign that began on Monday, May 3 has already generated over 15,000 letters from New Yorkers to elected officials, stating support for the city’s libraries.
The branches expanding services today are:
Brooklyn Public Library
The New York Public Library (which covers the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island)
Queens Public Library
“New Yorkers have faced unprecedented challenges in the last year, and we know how much they need their libraries as they prepare to enter a chapter of recovery and renewal,” said New York Public Library President Anthony W. Marx. “While we have acted as a lifeline for so many with ebooks and virtual programs and services, we have missed seeing our patrons in our branches, and have been eager to return to some semblance of normalcy. Today’s expansion of service — including computer use, critical for patrons who do not have internet access at home — is a significant and welcome step in that direction, and we are now looking forward to opening all of our locations in July. We have been waiting a long time to serve our communities with our full complement of services. It feels good to know we’re well on our way.”
“Restoring in-person library service is a milestone in our city’s reopening and recovery,” said Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library. “While we’ve offered grab-and-go lobby service for months, we know our patrons have missed browsing our shelves, using computers, and catching up with their local librarians and library staff. We can’t wait to welcome them back.”
“Today we are taking an important step towards reconnecting with our customers by more widely opening the doors to an institution they love and cherish,” said Queens Public Library President Dennis M. Walcott. “Our goal is to provide a safe environment for our staff and customers as we continue to expand our services to the public, and help the city recover from one of the most challenging periods in its history.”
About Brooklyn Public Library
Brooklyn Public Library is one of the nation’s largest library systems and among New York City’s most democratic institutions. As a leader in developing modern 21st century libraries, we provide resources to support personal advancement, foster civic literacy, and strengthen the fabric of community among the more than 2.6 million individuals who call Brooklyn home. We provide nearly 65,000 free programs a year with writers, thinkers, artists, and educators—from around the corner and around the world. And we give patrons millions of opportunities to enjoy one of life’s greatest satisfactions: the joy of a good book.
About The New York Public Library
For 125 years, The New York Public Library has been a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library receives approximately 16 million visits through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at www.nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support.
About Queens Public Library
Queens Public Library is one of the largest and busiest public library systems in the United States, dedicated to serving the most ethnically and culturally diverse area in the country. An independent, non-profit organization founded in 1896, Queens Public Library offers free access to a collection of more than 5 million books and other materials in multiple languages, technology and digital resources, and more than 87,500 educational, cultural, and civic programs a year. It consists of 66 locations, including 62 ranch libraries, a Central Library, seven adult learning centers, a technology lab, one universal pre-kindergartens, and two teen centers.