Library Closure: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why does air quality affect SFPL To Go operations? Why does SFPL To Go close during heavy smoke events?

air-qualityWith wildfires in the surrounding areas, the Air Quality Index (AQI) in San Francisco can fluctuate between Yellow/Moderate to Red/Unhealthy, and possibly even Purple/Very Unhealthy. Because SFPL To Go is an outdoor operation, when the AQI reaches above 150/Red the Library must temporarily suspend SFPL To Go service to limit exposure to poor air quality for patrons and staff. However, bookdrops will remain open.

We recommend that you check our website and/or the AQI to verify whether or not we are open before you travel to pick up your materials. You can also call (415) 749-4900 for an air quality status update.

Can I get a library card?

Yes, if you live in SF you can get a library card.

Until library buildings are open to the public, residents and employees of the City and County of San Francisco may apply online for a library account that may be used to place holds, borrow items and access online resources. Apply online or call 415-557-4400. No physical cards will be issued at this time. Once we open our library buildings to the public, you will be notified to come in and get a physical library card.

How can I reach a librarian on the phone?  

The TIP Line (415-557-4400) is a telephone ready-reference service where librarians at the Main Library are available Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.6 p.m., and Sunday, 126 p.m.

  • Questions about their account

  • Updates on library services during the COVID-19 closure

  • Short, quick information queries 

Longer, in-depth reference queries will be forwarded to the library’s Ask a Librarian email.

如需協助,請致電並留言 (粵語) (415) 757-9884

如需协助,请致电并留言 (国语) (415) 757-9946

Para ayuda, llame y deje un mensaje: (415) 757-9889

За помощью позвоните и оставьте сообщение: (415) 757-9911

Để được trợ giúp, hãy gọi và để lại tin nhắn: (415) 757-9900

Para sa tulong, tumawag at mag-iwan ng mensahe: (415) 757-9937

ヘルプを参照するには、電話でメッセージを残し ます。(415) 757-9928

What library resources can I access while library locations are closed?

You can now check out physical materials via our front door pick-up service, SFPL To Go. The Library’s abundant digital offerings, including eBooks, eAudiobooks, streaming movies, research databases and digital magazines and newspapers are available 24/7.

We have increased our lending and reservation limits on our most popular eMaterials so you can maximize your reading, listening and viewing experiences from home. Additionally, we have increased our reservation limits for all of these services.

You can now check out 25 books and reserve 25 titles in OverDrive and Axis360. We purchase the hottest new titles and have tens of thousands of books and audiobooks for you to choose from.

We have also increased the checkout limit to 30 items in Hoopla. Hoopla offers the latest music, current books and videos on all types of subjects, such as fitness at home.

On Kanopy, we have raised our limit to 15 movies a month. Kanopy Kids, which has a variety of educational and entertaining movies and videos, is now unlimited for our library patrons.

In addition, we offer many opportunities for eLearning—build valuable job skills or work on your resume, get one-on-one tutoring and homework help, all from your home. Visit our Virtual Library to learn more.

What if my items are due during the closure? Will I accrue late fees?

All materials checked out before the Library closed on March 13, 2020 were due February 28, 2021.

As of September 2019, San Francisco Public Library is fine freeno late fees will accrue on your account.

Are eBook due dates affected by the library closure?

eBook due dates are not affected by the library building closures.

My library card is about to expire. How can I renew it?

Any library card with an expiration date of January 1, 2019 through June 30, 2021, will now expire on June 30, 2021.

What are Community Hubs and am I eligible?

The Library has partnered with the Department of Children, Youth & Families and the Recreation and Parks Department to implement the Community Hub Initiative, a citywide, neighborhood-based strategy to support children, youth, and families during the school year. Community Hubs provide support for students in grades K-8 who are utilizing SFUSD’s Distance Learning Curriculum and prioritize children and youth with high levels of need.

The following branch locations are currently serving as Community Hubs for the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year: Bayview/Linda Brooks-Burton Bernal Heights, Golden Gate Valley, Ingleside, North Beach, Richmond/Senator Milton Marks, Visitacion Valley and Western Addition. Ortega and Sunset will be activated as hubs in February. Due to public health requirements for physical distancing and space limitations, we will not be able to provide SFPL To Go service at all of the hub sites, but we are here to help you find the next, most convenient location to pick up your items. Please call the Tip Line for further assistance: 415-557-4400.


Learning Hubs will be offered to select families based on priority population criteria which includes HOPE SF, public housing and SRO residents; homeless youth; foster care youth; English language learners; African American, Latinx, Pacific Islander and low income Asian families. The priority eligibility characteristics include applicants who are multi-system involved, who indicate they have no internet access and who are without a digital learning device. For more information, visit