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November 17, 2020

Free Library of Philadelphia to continue offering limited services despite citywide COVID-19 restrictions

Patrons will still be able to utilize contactless material returns and pickups at various locations

Libraries Coronavirus
free library philadelphia Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

Since August, the Free Library of Philadelphia has been offering limited in-person services at locations across the city through a multi-phase process.

All Free Library of Philadelphia locations will have to shut down to the public by Friday after city officials enacted new restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

But the city’s public library system is planning to resume limited services at some of its locations, the organization announced. Those services, which include contactless material returns and pickups, will resume on Monday, Nov. 30 after the Thanksgiving holiday. Pickups, however, can only take place with a scheduled appointment.

All returned materials to a Free Library location will be quarantined for seven days in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. Once each item clears quarantine, it will be marked as returned. Patrons can continue to place holds on items either online or over the phone.

Free Library programs will proceed virtually, and the organization will continue to make its digital resources available to all library members. All due dates on materials will be pushed back until January, when the Free Library hopes to resume in-person services.

The Free Library’s call center and phone reference will still be available to patrons five days a week. A full database of available services at Free Library locations across the city can be accessed here.

The Free Library’s Hot Spots across the city have remained closed for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The health and safety of our staff and customers is our utmost priority,” the Free Library said in a statement after the city’s newest COVID-19 restrictions were unveiled on Monday.

Since August, the Free Library has been offering limited in-person services at locations across the city through a multi-phase process. 

The city’s public library system expanded its services in September to include more in-building offerings at approximately half of its locations. Those services included computer and printer usage, internet access, grab-and-go holds pickup, and face-to-face assistance from library staff.

Visitors were required to wear face masks and practice social distancing while at Free Library locations. Visits were limited to 30 minutes per day.

Numerous Free Library branches had been shut down since March due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but many programs and events continued virtually.

“Thank you so much for your support and your care for each other and our Free Library community during this uncertain time – we look forward to welcoming you back into our buildings," the organization said.

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