Beginning Monday, April 5, Howard County Library System will open for limited in-person services including browsing, computer access, printing, photocopying, scanning, and faxing. Passport services will resume May 3rd at the East Columbia Branch. Contactless pickup and Bundle Bags will continue to be available at all branches. Watch for details about how to sign up for 45-minute appointments in the coming weeks.
As we prepare to move to Phase 4 of our reopening plan, please know that the return to our branches will not be a return to a pre-pandemic environment. We will continue to follow guidance from public health experts to prioritize the health and safety of our staff and customers.
Planning Your Visit
Starting April 5, you can make a 45-minute appointment to:
- Access public computers
- Browse the shelves
- Check out your own items using self-checkout machines or our new HCLS CheckItOut app
- Print, copy, scan, and fax
- Ask staff for in-person assistance finding materials or other resources
Starting May 3, you can make a 45-minute appointment to:
- Apply for a passport (East Columbia Branch only)
Services that will continue to be available:
- Contactless pickup
- Bundle Bags
- Downloadable ebooks and audiobooks
- eContent to stream, download, and learn
- On demand classes and tutorials
- Virtual classes and events
- Sign up for a library card
- Ask staff for assistance by phone, email or web
Services not yet available:
- Meeting room usage and reservations
- In person classes and events
- Donations of books and other materials
New safety requirements:
- If you feel ill, please reschedule your appointment and visit another time.
- Wear appropriate face mask covering mouth AND nose (for everyone age two and up, including those vaccinated).
- Maintain physical distance of 6 feet.
- Monday – Saturday: 10 am – 6 pm
- Thursday: 10 am – 8 pm
- *Due to construction, the Glenwood Branch building will not be open to customers. Hours for contactless pickup of holds and Bundle Bags are 2 to 6:00 pm, Monday through Saturday, and 2 to 8:00 pm on Thursdays.
Quarantining of Items
Effective Monday, March 22, HCLS will no longer quarantine materials. This decision was made in consultation with local health officials based on the current data. There are no known transmission of COVID-19 through contaminated books or other library materials in any library.
As understanding of the COVID-19 virus evolves, scientists and experts now know that materials can be safely handled without quarantine. National and local health officials continue to emphasize the importance of frequent, thorough 20-second hand washing. Data shows that hand washing is effective at reducing transmission of COVID-19.
- March 16: Phase 1 began.
- April: Phase 2 began.
- June 29: Phase 3 began with contactless pickup.
While COVID-19 necessitated the temporary closure of our branches, the pandemic has not stopped the delivery of premier educational offerings to the community.
Our creative and innovative team quickly pivoted to begin offering COVID-19 resources via our website, virtual STEM classes, early learning and adult education classes, online book clubs, video tutorials, and blogs. We bolstered eContent, including eBooks, eAudiobooks, digital magazines, newspapers, movies, music, and more.
Our phased reopening plan is based on best practices in libraries around the nation and the world, state and local orders, and guidance from local health officials. The safety of our customers and staff has been and continues to be our highest priority.