Library Closure: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

May I apply for a new library card account online?

During the Library’s closure, San Francisco residents may apply for a Temporary Digital Access Card using the online application form. You will be contacted by email within 48 hours with the status of your application. Please note, all Temporary Digital Access Cards will expire on July 31, 2020. You can simply visit any SFPL location upon our reopening to easily reactivate your library card with full borrowing privileges.

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 Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., to help patrons with:

  • 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 reference service (Please be advised that we won't be able to retrieve physical library collections or materials.)

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

The Library’s abundant digital offerings, including eBooks, eAudiobooks, streaming movies, research databases and digital magazines and newspapers are available 24/7 to you while our locations are closed. In addition, we offer many opportunities for eLearningbuild valuable job skills or work on your resume, get one-on-one tutoring and homework help, all from your home. We’ve got you covered.

Can I check out more eMaterials while the Library is closed?

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 25 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.

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

All materials due from February 1, 2020 through June 1, 2020 are now due on August 1, 2020.

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.

Can I drop off my materials in outdoor bookdrops?

Updated: outdoor bookdrops will not be accessible during the Library's closure. Your materials' loan period has been extended through August 1, 2020.

How do I return my LINK+ and Interlibrary Loan (ILL) items during the current library closure?

Please do not return LINK+ or ILL items until the library reopens for public service.

LINK+ materials will automatically renew during this period.

ILL items can be renewed by staff. Please email for renewal and other ILL concerns.

We will not charge you for any LINK+ or ILL fees that may be incurred during this period. If a LINK+ or ILL item has already been billed, it will not block your account.

We will remove any charges on your account when the library re-opens and the item(s) are returned.

What if some of my holds are ready for pick up?

We will extend the period that all items remain on hold so that you have plenty of time to pick them up after we reopen. Please disregard the Pick-Up By Date listed in your holds notice.

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

Any library card with an expiration date of January 1, 2019 through August 31, 2020, will now expire on September 1, 2020.

My library card expired earlier this year. Can I still use the library?

See above.

Is there a plan or timeline for library locations to reopen or for a curbside pickup service?

The Library is working closely with the Mayor’s office and the Department of Public Health to evaluate when to safely resume limited service for the public and our staff. We are following the latest public health guidance to develop protocols for contact-free library services aimed at protecting our front-line staff while also ensuring the safety of our patrons. We also are working to develop a carefully phased approach that will eventually get us back to full library service at the appropriate time.

While the Library’s doors are closed, SFPL staff is currently deployed in various roles throughout San Francisco as Disaster Service Workers to assist in the response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Check back often for updates.

I have a question about my account. Is there anyone who can help me?

If you have any questions about your account or how to access digital resources, please email We will respond to inquiries as soon as possible.