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Library Frequently Asked Questions

Our website has the most up-to-date information. It is being updated continually as circumstances and staffing availability change.

In response to the Governor’s Safe Start guidelines in June 2020, Bellingham Public Library immediately consolidated all staff and services from its 3 branches to develop and implement a Monday – Saturday curbside pick-up program and 24/7 returns, at the downtown Central Library, which is the most efficient space for the operation. This contact-free, curbside program has been highly utilized over the past eight months and is continuing to successfully allow Library staff to provide physical materials to nearly 2,000 patrons per week.

In July 2020 the Central Library also began an extensive remodel project on the first floor, expected to be complete in spring. For the success of these two ongoing initiatives, as well as space and staff limitations, Bellingham Public Library is not able to open its branches for in-person services until the remodel is complete in late spring 2021.

Read our Road to Reopening Bellingham Public Library.

Bellingham Public Library is following Whatcom County Health Department recommendations and is receiving direction from the City of Bellingham.

Currently all 3 Bellingham Public Library buildings in downtown, Fairhaven and Barkley Village are closed to public access. However, many services continue to be available, including our Curbside Holds Pickup Service, Digital Library Materials, Homework Help for Kids, Virtual Storytimes, and our AskUs! Help Desk.

Returns bins at the Central Library, Fairhaven and Barkley branches are now open.

The Fairhaven and Barkley branches continue to be closed while all of our available staff members are needed (including those who usually work at those branches) to operate the Curbside Hold Pickup Service at the Central Branch, which is very labor intensive.

Returns bins at Central Library Returns, Fairhaven and Barkley branches are now open. Because we’re quarantining all incoming materials, your items will still be checked out to you for at least 24 hours after you return them. And remember, there are no overdue fines!

We’ll be exploring how to reopen these community return locations after libraries are no longer required to quarantine materials.  Currently the state requirement is 24 hours. 

Yes. Full details at Bellingham Public Library’s webpage for Curbside Holds Pickup Service

According to the Center for Disease Control, after 24 hours infectious agents including COVID-19 would not remain on paper materials (Library Journal: IMLS, CDC: On Staff Safety, Handling Paper In COVID-19 Pandemic). Other guidance from the Northeast Document Conservation Center addresses a variety of materials. We are quarantining all returned library materials for at least 24 hours.

No. All library materials have been quarantined for at least 24 hours between users. Items have been carefully handled by staff to minimize risk of contamination. After materials are returned, they are being quarantined for 24 hours to allow potential contaminants to expire. Bleach, cleaning solutions and moisture may cause damage to library materials.

While our facilities are closed to the public, we are answering telephones, responding to emails/email forms, and processing online library card applications. These services will be available Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm.

Try the last 4 digits of your telephone number. If that doesn’t work, call us and we’ll help you create a new PIN. We’ll be taking telephone calls on a limited schedule during our closure

Yes! Visit our Library Card page for information about how to sign up for a library card online.

While our facilities are closed to the public, we will still be answering phones and email, and processing online library card applications. These services will be limited by staff availability, thank you for your patience.

Children enrolled in a public K-12 school in Whatcom County likely have a school card that enables them full access to digital resources. Call us and we can check this and get you your child’s barcode and PIN number. See our ConnectED page for information about our partnership with the Bellingham Public Schools.

Yes! This is a great time to check out all our digital services; eBooks and eAudiobookseFilms and eDocumentarieseMagazinesonline newspapers (including The Seattle Times and The Bellingham Herald), online computer and language learning, and more! Choose “Digital Library” on the menu bar near the top of this page for a complete menu of our digital services, and Ask Us if you have questions.

Yes! WiFi is available 24/7 outside our two largest library branches.

  • Central Library: Try the street parking on Central Ave. (south side of the library).
  • Fairhaven Branch: The parking lot has coverage.
  • Barkley Branch: Not available.

See our Computers and WiFi page for instructions on connecting to WiFi. A library card is not needed to access this service.

Library staff will be able to access COVID-19 vaccines according to the Washington State’s tiered rollout plan.