How to Keep Your Library Services Active During Quarantine
April 15, 2020
September Posters and Jeopardy Game
August 24, 2020

Beginning-of-Year Pandemic Preparation

Close up of females hands holding books in front of the camera.

Many libraries are changing how they do regular circulation to limit contact. And since all libraries have varying locations, needs, and capabilities, each new checkout process will look different. Whether that includes scheduling pick-up times, having patrons place holds online, quarantining items after return, or more, is up to your library and local guidelines.

5 Questions to Answer for Beginning-of-Year Pandemic Preparation

As you create a plan that works for your library, we encourage you to answer these questions. Each one offers plenty of food for thought!

1 - How will patrons pick out books?

There are several different methods available, each with their own challenges. The most popular method is to have your patrons place holds, but you could also allow reservations (especially for your teachers), have your patrons put together lists, or set up a limited area for browsing inside or outside of your library.

2 - How will patrons pick up their books?

If your school has reopened and students are attending classes, you could deliver books to the classrooms or have classes come to the library one at a time.

If the school isn’t opening, or to further reduce contact, you might require your patrons to schedule days and times to pick up their materials. Let them know if they should be coming into the library or waiting at the curb.

You’ll also need to decide if you are checking books out to patrons before passing the books out, or letting patrons use self-service stations to check out their own books.

3 - Will patrons be permitted to renew books on their own?

On one hand, more materials may be in more demand. On the other hand, there is no benefit to keeping books on the shelves if no one is around to browse. Remember also that the additional steps for both you and your patrons makes it difficult to handle shorter checkout times, so you may consider increasing your loan periods and/or allowing more renewals.

4 - How will patrons drop off their books?

You can schedule dropoffs as well as pickups. Or let patrons drop items in a bookdrop bin, switch out the bins at the end of the day, and let the bins sit in quarantine until they are safe to be handled according to your school’s policies.

5 - How do I move forward with my plans?

Alexandria has you covered for whichever method you choose. Take a look at our Remote Checkout article for our recommendations. You may want to print the article and cross out the steps as you go.

Things may be different this year, but don’t forget the standard Beginning-of-Year Procedures for your Alexandria library. (Are you still on version 6? We've got the same old v6 Beginning-of-Year Procedures article for you. And now’s a great time to switch to 7!)

See also our Library Guide for Reopening for more ways to safely keep your library running, and make sure to enable holds!

Read about what some other libraries are doing!
Creative Ways: Local library continues services despite pandemic
Librarians, visitors adapt to new practices for checking out materials
Pasadena Public Library Offers Curbside Pickup Service


  1. Theresa A. Henry says:

    How are you handling books in quarantine? How do you keep books from showing available for holds when in quarantine???

    • Jennifer says:

      I would love to see if we can add something that says that the book is in quarantine after we check in the book. Can we add a field – not available? Sick? We need to check books in, but then not have them available. Thank you.

      • Theresa A. Henry says:

        Hi Jennifer,
        I have taken the change circulation-type route. After check-in, view today’s check-ins, copy to Excel or Google sheets, delete all but barcodes, global change circulation type. I made 6 days of circulation type Quarantine that is hidden, doesn’t how when students search. After quarantine global back to regular. Far less handling of the books than other recommended procedures I’ve seen. I have a Word doc on how-to if you’d like to try.
        Good Luck and Stay Safe!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.