Library Status Updates

Last updated Friday, July 10th, 2020 at 4:31pm EST

Physical Locations

  • All physical library locations remain closed until further notice. Library users should consult the menu of services available during COVID-19.

Access to Collections Online

  • Scanning is available from offsite collections and select campus locations.  Scanning via Interlibrary Loan has also been enabled.  Eligible items will have a "Scan" hyperlink in the CLIO record. Reproductions of small portions will be made in accordance with the Terms of Service. Archival collections, rare books, and some other offsite materials are not eligible to be requested. 
  • Online access to collections: millions of items from our collections can still be accessed online, including 40% of our print holdings that are temporarily available digitally and many temporary free resources

Borrowing or Returning Physical Materials

  • Materials can now be returned to book bins outside Butler Library. Due dates have been universally pushed back to Oct. 2, 2020; regular late fines have been removed; account blocks have no negative effect on access or permissions. 
  • If you have left or are leaving the New York City area permanently and cannot return materials to the Butler Library book bins, please email lio@columbia.eduto make other arrangements. 

Teaching, Research & Learning Support Services

  • Library users should consult the menu of services available during COVID-19.
  • Faculty should consult the menu of services available during COVID-19 and should contact us as soon as possible to consult about course materials and research assignments in the context of a remote or hybrid learning environment.

Frequently Asked Questions about Reopening

As conditions allow for the safe return of limited library staff to campus, we are prioritizing two services offering increased access for students, faculty and staff to some of our print collections: electronic delivery of scanned portions of physical materials; and a book pickup service from an on campus location. 
 
Scanning is available from offsite collections and select campus locations.  Scanning via Interlibrary Loan has also been enabled.  Eligible items will have a "Scan" hyperlink in the CLIO record. Reproductions of small portions will be made in accordance with the Terms of Service. Archival collections, rare books, and some other offsite materials are not eligible to be requested. 

Soon, we will begin a book pickup service that will enable current Columbia affiliates to place requests for circulating books from our collections, and pick them up from an on campus location. We will begin by opening up a portion of our collections for this service, beginning with those shelved in Butler Library, and gradually expand access as safe occupation of library staff spaces allows.  

With overwhelming concern for the safety and wellbeing of our library staff and users, these initial services will be implemented with the fewest possible staff members on site. Library locations will remain closed to faculty, students, and visitors until further notice. 

Given the new challenges presented by health and safety requirements and physical distancing measures, scanning and book pick-up services will require significant planning with a range of considerations including: safe handling procedures for library  materials, reconfigured and repurposed spaces, new or altered technology systems for requests and notifications, equipment procurement for safety protocols, University approvals for onsite work, staff shift coordination, staff training and supervision, and more. In coordination with state, local and University public health guidance, we are working steadfastly to ensure the safest and most efficient return to service possible. To that end, we must prioritize the reinstatement of services that stand to benefit the greatest number of users while also presenting minimal risk to library staff and users.

Scanning is currently available from offsite collections and select campus locations (Butler).  Scanning via Interlibrary Loan has also been enabled.  Eligible items will have a "Scan" hyperlink in the CLIO record. Reproductions of small portions will be made in accordance with the Terms of Service. Archival collections, rare books, and some other offsite materials are not eligible to be requested. 

Over time, scanning and book pickup services for our general circulating collections may be expanded to other library locations and collections, contingent on our ability to maintain safe work spaces and conditions for material handling. Controlled in-person use of special collection reading rooms may also be added at a later date. Currently, there is no projected date for the reinstatement of other library services due to the challenges presented by physical distancing and materials handling logistics. We will continue to update faculty, staff, and students as plans evolve to include dates and details for the gradual return of library services. 

Users can still obtain materials from other libraries. Interlibrary Loan is still an option for requesting scans of articles and book chapters. Print requests (i.e. requests for physical books), however, cannot be fulfilled, through either Interlibrary Loan, nor Borrow Direct. At this time, the Ivy Plus Libraries do not expect the BorrowDirect service to resume until September.

If you have questions about the availability of a collection, how to access a collection, or how to make a collection request, please contact us

Research Assignment Design

The Libraries’ subject specialists and curators are available to consult with you about designing and supporting your research assignments and alternative projects in the context of a remote or hybrid learning environment. Please reach out to the relevant specialist as soon as possible. Specialists will also be presenting on options for instructors during an upcoming colloquium, and will be available to answer questions at virtual drop-in Q&A sessions leading up to the start of the Fall semester. (Dates and times for both the colloquium and drop-in sessions will be available soon.) 

Course Reserves

To place material on reserve for your course, make a request using our submission form as soon as possible. Library staff will then be in touch with details on the availability of each item. Whenever possible, we will supply electronic copies of materials. If applicable, please also consult with an expert about using films in courses.

Materials can now be returned to book bins outside Butler Library. For users who are unable to return materials in person, we have taken several steps to mitigate the pressure of due dates and fines for all borrowers. Due dates have been universally pushed back to Oct. 2, 2020; regular late fines have been removed; account blocks have no negative effect on access or permissions.

If you have left or are leaving the New York City area permanently and cannot leave your materials with someone to return later, please email lio@columbia.eduto make other arrangements. 

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent closure of library locations, many print collections have been made available in digital format. 40% of Columbia’s print collections are now temporarily available in digital format following the HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service announcement. Here’s how to access those materials.

Many of our collections are always available online, including ebooks (choose “ebooks” on the left before or after any search in CLIO), research databases, digital reproductions from our rare and special collections, and access to health sciences databases and health sciences resources

If you have questions about the availability of a collection, how to access a collection, or how to make a collection request, please contact us

Library locations will remain closed to faculty, students, and visitors until further notice. If you need to retrieve materials from a personal space such as a locker or carrel, please email lio@columbia.edu to make arrangements. (Currently this is only possible for lockers and carrels in Butler Library.)

Please continue to refer to the University’s COVID-19 Guidance for the Columbia Community for information about classes, campus events, health updates, travel restrictions, and preventative measures.


For questions not answered here, please email recovery@library.columbia.edu