What if I don’t have a library card?
If you do not have a library card registered with HCLS, you may request a virtual account at https://polaris.hclibrary.org/polaris/logon.aspx. You will be assigned a temporary barcode, which is good for six months. That barcode, plus the PIN you create, gives you instant access to digital content and the Library’s physical collection. Once branches re-open, please bring proof of address so staff can issue a physical library card.
What if I don’t know my library card barcode or PIN?
Go to the My Account logon page and click on the appropriate link:
Forgot your barcode or username? Your barcode or username will be sent to the email address in your library account.
Don’t know your PIN/password? Reset it here. You will be sent a temporary PIN or password. Once you have used it to log into your library account, you can change it in the Change Logon section. For “Old Password,” please enter the temporary password sent by email.
Holds, Returns, and Fines
Can I return items?
Borrowed items may be returned to the outside book drops. Items will remain on your account for at least four days while they are quarantined then checked in.
- Artwork can be returned to the Central Branch lobby (no appointment necessary).
- DIY items can be returned to the Elkridge Branch DIY side entrance (no appointment necessary).
- Toys and oversized items may be returned inside the lobby (no appointment necessary).
Before the Library closed, I received notice that my holds were ready. Are they still available to pick up?
All your held items are still on our shelves. On June 29 you will receive another notice as a reminder. Please schedule a pickup date and time as noted here. If you no longer need the items being held for you, please email [email protected] or call your branch.
What if I am unable to pick up my holds or return a book that is due? What if I miss my appointment?
Returns for all items that were borrowed before we closed have been extended to August 1. If you are unable to pick up your holds, consider asking a family member, neighbor, or friend to pick up your items. Any items not picked up during the pre-scheduled pickup time will be held for three more days. After three days, the items will be quarantined, then put back into circulation.
I don’t want to pick up my holds, but I don’t want to go to the bottom of the queue.
In your account, you can suspend your holds until you are ready.
What about fines?
You will be able to borrow items if you had pre-existing fines or replacement costs on your account. All fines and fees are waived until further notice. Please disregard any notices about overdue items and fines.
What items can be requested and picked up at the Library?
Most physical materials are available for requesting and pickup, including books, DVDs, music CDs, audiobooks, and Launchpads. To request items from the DIY or art collections, please call the lending branch:
- Artwork: Central Branch at 410.313.7800
- DIY (e.g., tools, sewing machines, baking supplies): Elkridge Branch at 410.313.5077
Why are items I returned still showing as checked out on my account?
Returned items will take at least four days to be checked in due to the quarantine process. Fines are waived until further notice.
How do I request a title not owned by Howard County Library System?
Interlibrary loan is still suspended at this time.
Can I bring in items to be donated?
The Library cannot accept donations at this time. Please drop donations in the green Better World Books donation drop-off boxes in Library branch parking lots. Do not bring donations to Library branches or leave them by the front doors or book drops.
Visiting the Library
Can I visit the Library now?
All Library branches remain closed. Contactless holds pickup occurs in branch lobbies. Do not visit any branch unless you have received notification that your materials are available, and you have scheduled an appointment. Please visit hclibrary.org for updates.
When will the Library reopen to customers?
Timing will depend on current health and safety guidelines, as well as availability of PPE and social distancing materials. The safety of our staff and customers is our top priority. Please visit hclibrary.org for updates.
Can I just use the restroom? Come in and print one thing? Check my email?
We cannot provide any building access to members of the public for any reason at this time.
Can I reserve a meeting room at a branch?
Meeting room reservations remain suspended during our closure and will be gradually reintroduced after reopening. Please visit hclibrary.org for updates.
Are you going to be holding classes for children, teens, and adults?
Health and Safety
Do I have to wear a mask to pick up my items on hold?
You must wear a face covering when you are picking up your items.
Do staff have to wear a mask at work?
All staff are required to wear masks while in Library branches.
Has the Library disinfected the collection in all locations?
According to the first round of lab testing for COVID-19 on five commonly borrowed library materials (hardback book cover, paperback book cover, plain paper pages inside a book, plastic protective book covering, and DVD case), the virus is not detectable on those materials after three days. The Library will quarantine all returned materials for 72 hours. Disinfecting with chemicals is not required and can result in damage to the materials.
What are you doing to protect the safety of customers and library staff?
Library staff are following current safety recommendations, including wearing masks, practicing social distancing with other staff and customers, frequently washing hands, and disinfecting work spaces. All returned materials will be quarantined for 72 hours before they are checked in and made available for the next customer.
Contactless pickup means no contact between staff and customers. Requested items will be left in bags on a designated table. If you notice other customers at the pickup table, please remain outside until the previous customer has departed.