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Library Reopening FAQs

On Nov.16, Washington State entered a new four-week statewide set of restrictions in response to the recent rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus. These restrictions do not currently affect libraries. The highly popular Curbside Pickup Service at Bellingham Public Library’s Central branch continues to be available.

This page was updated Nov. 18, 2020, and will continue to be updated regularly. Please check back often for the most current information or Ask Us.

Our website has the most up-to-date information. It is being updated continually as circumstances and staffing availability change. We announce many changes on our Facebook and Twitter pages as well. Our social media pages are open for all to view, no account or sign-in required.

With a strong desire to serve our community in response to the Governor’s original Safe Start Phase 2 guidelines in June, 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 five 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 currently able to open its branches to the public at 25% for in-building browsing as allowed in the Governor’s October 6 revised Phase 2 guidelines. However, the Library is evaluating options to add public computing access under the new guidelines, to further serve community needs.

Bellingham Public Library is following Whatcom County Health Department recommendations and is receiving direction from the City of Bellingham. Libraries were originally identified in the Governor’s Safe Start Plan to reopen to the public in Phase 3.

Currently all 3 Bellingham Public Library buildings in downtown, Fairhaven and Barkley Village are closed to public access. However, at our downtown location (210 Central Avenue) Curbside Holds Pickup Service is available by appointment Monday – Saturday 10 am – 6 pm, and returns are accessible 24/7 through the outdoor book returns near the front doors.

We are set up at the Central Library Branch to quarantine returned materials with minimal handling by staff. We are working on plans that will allow us to safely retrieve and transport materials from other locations. We will open return locations as those plans are implemented.

You can return items to the outdoor returns at the Central Library. 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!

Yes! The library has Curbside Holds Pickup Service at the Central Library. Holds from Barkley, Fairhaven, and Central branches are available at the Central Library location, 210 Central Ave. 

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), Grand Ave. (west side of the library) and Lottie St. (north 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.