University Librarian’s Update on Fall Plans for Libraries

August 20, 2020

Dear Students and Faculty,

Staff in the Libraries are busily preparing for the arrival of many of you on campus and are also continuing to serve you online. Since the suspension of on-campus academic activities in March 2020, the Libraries have been providing students and faculty with increased access to millions of online resources, emergency digital access to in-copyright materials, and online assistance in support of teaching and research. We are also dedicated to providing students and faculty a safe and productive return to onsite library services. Physical access to your Libraries will look and feel different this Fall Term. Our reopening plan follows the phased approach that the University is taking as described in President Bollinger's August 14th announcement.


  • Six libraries will open August 31. At the start of the Fall Term of 2020, six libraries will open study spaces. Some special collections will open to users by appointment in September.
  • Students will reserve seats. Seat reservations are available for up to two hours per day before arrival to ensure that students will have a place to study and work.
  • Face coverings and physical distancing are required. Library reading rooms will be monitored for adherence to the Columbia Community Health Compact. Food will not be permitted in libraries.
  • Book pick-up and scan-and-deliver scanning services are available. Stacks will be closed to users, but book paging and pick-up and scan-and-deliver services will continue through the Fall Term.
  • Read, watch, listen, and get help online. Libraries are providing millions of digital resources and services, including millions of ebooks, streaming audio and video collections, online workshops, and help via live chat. 

Teams of Libraries staff are working creatively and diligently to meet the needs of users and to safeguard the health and safety of our entire community. We will modify and adjust approaches to services and spaces as conditions change and as we build experience operating in this new environment. Status updates and more details about our services are on our website, and you can subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter and follow us on Twitter @columbialib

Libraries are essential to the restoration of a vibrant campus and academic life, and we look forward to working with you–our users–to keep your Libraries safe and open.  

With very best wishes for a productive and rewarding academic year,

Ann Thornton
Vice Provost and University Librarian