Safety Protocols

Safety protocols

Patrons and staff are required to wear masks while in Library buildings and while using our contactless Curbside services. If you cannot wear a mask that completely covers your mouth and nose, please call the number found on signs at the branch and arrange for us to serve you while you remain outside.

Buildings will be closed regularly for cleaning breaks, and we have “sanitation stations” that dispense masks – including child-sized masks – as well as hand sanitizer. We will also make cleaning wipes available for patrons to use. All returned materials are quarantined for 24 hours. Entrance is limited to 25% of total building capacity, and patrons are not allowed to eat or drink in buildings.

Time-Limited Public Sessions

Time graphic

Locations with in-building services will be open to a limited number of patrons for time-limited public use sessions, with closed cleaning breaks between sessions. Opening and cleaning times are posted outside the main entrance. You may visit the branch during multiple time blocks on the same day, and you can still pick up holds through Curbside Pickup Service when the branch is closed for cleaning.

Schedule of Public Sessions

Noon - 1:30 p.m. Public session
1:30 - 2:30 p.m.            Closed to public; holds pickup available
2:30 – 4 p.m.           Public session
4 - 4:30 p.m.         Closed to public; holds pickup available
4:30 - 5:45 p.m.           Public session
5:45 – 6 p.m.      Closed to public; holds pickup available

In-Building Holds Pickup

Patron at library entrance

You can pick up holds, request Grab & Go books or SPL Bundles, or select Peak Picks to check out at locations offering in-building services. Holds are available even during a closed cleaning break. We are not allowing patrons to browse bookshelves in buildings yet, though. We hope to offer that service again soon.

If you need help picking up your items or do not want to go inside, please call the number found on signs at the branch to let staff know you have arrived. We can bring your items to your vehicle or another nearby location.

Computers, Wi-Fi and Printing

Computer lab at Central Library

A limited number of computers with internet access are available for you to use with a two-hour usage limit per day. They are available on a first-come, first-served basis. You can use your two-hour computer time during multiple public use sessions, but you will be signed out shortly before the end of a public session to give everyone time to leave.

Keyboards and mice are cleaned and disinfected throughout the day. Free Wi-Fi is available to use with your own device at all Library locations. You may also print, scan or copy up to 10 free black-and-white pages per day to pick up inside open buildings. Faxing is available at the Beacon Hill and Southwest branches.

Charging Stations

Charging graphic

Charge your devices quickly and safely, while maintaining a six-foot distance from others. Charging stations are limited, and available on a first-come, first served basis. Patron devices must be removed from charging stations when the building is closed for cleaning.

Common Questions about In-Building Services:

What is the difference between in-building and Curbside services?

At locations with in-building services, patrons can enter buildings during public sessions to pick up holds (or check out Peak Picks or take a Grab & Go bag), as well as sit and read, use Wi-Fi or a computer, charge a device, use a restroom or talk to a staff member – from a distance, of course. Curbside service allows patrons to pick up available holds, typically in the lobby of a branch and sometimes outside.

When will my branch be open for in-building services?

As we have with Curbside Service, we will continue to add locations and expand services as public health data, staffing, and Library safety protocols allow.

We have a plan to open more branches for in-building services in the near future but don’t have an exact timeline for these other locations. We will post updates on this page and you can find services listed at each location at

Why did you choose these branches for in-building services?

We selected these branches initially because they are in different regions of Seattle, and are located in areas where residents may be more likely to benefit from resources such as computers and Wi-Fi. They were also suitable because of other factors such as layout and capacity.

What if I don’t want to enter a Library building to pick up my holds?

If you are unable to stand in line or do not want to enter a building to pick up your items (as most Curbside Service is now offered in lobbies), please call the number found on signs at the branch to let staff know you have arrived. We can bring your items to your vehicle or another nearby location. 

Can I sit and read?

Yes! Branches have limited seating arranged to enable physical distancing. Plexiglass has been installed where needed to further protect staff and patrons. Staff will maintain six feet of distance while assisting you. All seating is regularly cleaned, and wipes are available for patrons to clean chairs and computers.

Why can’t we browse the stacks yet? Don’t you know that the CDC now says that the risk of surface transmission is low?

The Library is beginning our in-building operations with the same cautious approach that has kept our patrons and staff safe throughout the pandemic. For now, we are operating under Phase 2 guidelines, which is why browsing bookshelves is not yet allowed. We know how eager patrons are to browse the shelves, and we will restore access to browsing as soon as we can. The state of Washington also requires a 24-hour quarantine of returned Library materials – the industry standard for Washington libraries that we are required to follow. That makes browsing of the stacks a challenge for us, especially in Phase 2.

We are aware that the risk of surface transmission of the virus is low, but there are other factors we’ve considered when planning for in-building services, such as shared airspace, mask enforcement, physical distancing and use of furniture and computers, air change rates, cleaning and sanitizing protocols, security protocols, and much more for 27 urban library locations.

Why are you opening at 25% capacity for your buildings, even though King County is in Phase 3, which allows for 50%?

Because of increased COVID rates in King County and our commitment to keeping our patrons and staff safe, we are taking a cautious approach to resuming in-building services. For now, we are operating under Phase 2 guidelines – using as many contactless services as possible and a 25% building capacity.

Can I reserve a computer ahead of time?

No, computers at locations with in-building services are only available on a first-come, first-served basis during public use sessions, for up to two hours a day. See our computer page for more information.

Can I use the restroom?

Restrooms are available at locations offering in-building services during a public use session, at reduced capacity. Water fountains, however, will not be operating.

Can I use a meeting or study room?

For now, meeting rooms and study rooms will remain closed to the public.

Will other branches still be offering Curbside Pickup Service?

Any branch previously offering Curbside service for pickup of available holds will still be doing so. Check out our Curbside Pickup Service page to find out more information about how that works, as well as locations and hours.