COVID-19 Closure FAQs


Why is the library closed to the public?
Can I place holds on books at this time?
My books are due.  What should I do?
Can I drop off my materials in outdoor book drops? 
I returned my items yesterday. Why are the items still listed on my account? 
My Library Card is expired or about to expire.  I want to use your electronic resources while I am at home. 
I don’t have my PIN number.  What should I do?
I have books ready for pick up.  What will happen to them? 
Are you offering curbside service so we can pick up holds? 
I am staying home and want to access HPL’s online resources.  
I don’t have a library card but I want to use your online resources.  How do I do this?
Children enrolled in Houston ISD and Alief ISD have Learning Link cards that enables them to use our online resources. 
I have a question about the library.  Is it possible to talk to a live person? 
I have an Interlibrary Loan book that is due.  What should I do?  
I have books that I want to donate.  Can I drop them off at the Library?
I had an appointment to get my Passport and the appointment was cancelled.  What can I do now? 
What about Wi-Fi outside of libraries?  
Where can I get my taxes done?  I have always used AARP Tax Aide at the library.  
Will the library be offering the Summer Reading Program this year? 
Where can I find information on the Census?
Can meeting rooms be reserved during this time?


Why is the library closed to the public? 
The safety of our customers and staff is the number one priority of the Houston Public Library. With the COVID-19 outbreak still a community concern, we made the difficult decision to close our libraries to the public and cancel programs and events to take precaution against the spread of COVID-19 and protect staff and customers. Our phased re-opening plan began on June 1st with curbside pick-up through our HPL TO GO service.  Please visit the library’s website for a list of virtual programming, and to see a list of online resources you can access from home. 

Can I place holds on books at this time?
Starting June 1st, customers may place holds on library materials through the library’s online catalog or the HPL app for pickup by appointment at one of our HPL TO GO locations. If you place a hold on an item that is currently not on the shelf at your chosen HPL TO GO location, it may take up to two weeks for the item to be ready for pickup if that item is available on the shelf at another HPL TO GO location. 

My books are due.  What should I do? 
You may return books at any of our book drops. For your peace of mind, due dates have been automatically extended to August 31, 2020 and fines will not accrue during this closure. Until further notice, no new late fees and fines will be assessed during the closure period, retroactive to March 14, 2020. 

Can I drop off my materials in outdoor book drops?  
Book drops at most locations are now open. Late fees are suspended at this time.  

I returned my items yesterday. Why are the items still listed on my account? 
All items returned during this time will be placed in quarantine for 96 hours. It may take up to 6 days for returned items to be removed from your account. There will be no fines or late fees until further notice. 

My Library Card is expired or about to expire.  I want to use your electronic resources while I am at home.  
Until further notice, expired library cards will be renewed automatically. Please call 832-393-1313 for questions about your account.  

I don’t have my PIN number.  What should I do?  
Use the Did you forget your PIN? Link when you click "Log In" through the library’s website.  You can also call 832-393-2222 Monday-Friday 10am to 5pm for assistance.  

I have books ready for pick up.  What will happen to them?  
Customers may contact their local library with questions about options for picking up their holds at one of our HPL TO GO locations.  

Are you offering curbside service so we can pick up holds? 
As of July 13, 2020, HPL TO GO by appointment is available at the following locations on Mondays 12 PM – 7 PM, Wednesday, Friday 9 AM – 4 PM, and Saturday 10 AM – 4 PM: Alief, Bracewell, Collier, Heights, Hillendahl, Jungman, Looscan, Park Place, Robinson-Westchase, Scenic Woods, Shepard-Acres Homes, Stanaker, McGovern-Stella Link, Tuttle, and Young. 

I am staying home and want to access HPL’s online resources.  
HPL has a robust collection of online resources that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Please visit www.houstonlibrary.org to find resources including e-books, e-audiobooks, streaming music and videos, online learning, online tutoring, and much more.    

I don’t have a library card but I want to use your online resources.  How do I do this?  
Please go to the Get a MY Link Card page and sign up.  Any Texas Resident can get a card.  Non-Residents may purchase a one year membership.  You can get instant access to our online resources.  *While the library is closed due to COVID-19 concerns, children under 18 are being given the ability to apply for an online e-card to access Houston Public Library e-resources. These e-cards will expire on August 1, 2020, or until further notice.* 

Children enrolled in Houston ISD and Alief ISD have Learning Link cards that enables them to use our online resources. 
See the Learning Link FAQ page for more information and instructions about using the student card.  If you need help accessing online resources, you can contact Telephone Reference (832-393-1313) or Circulation Administration (832-393-2222) Monday – Friday 10 AM to 5 PM.  

I have a question about the library.  Is it possible to talk to a live person? 
Telephone Reference (832-393-1313) is answering questions Monday – Friday 10 AM to 5 PM. In addition, all neighborhood library locations are answering questions during the following times:

HPL TO GO Locations: Monday 12 PM to 7 PM, Tuesday and Thursday 10 AM to 4 PM, Wednesday and Friday 9 AM to 4 PM, and Saturday 10 AM to 4 PM.

Non-HPL TO Go Locations: Monday through Friday 10 AM to 4 PM.

You can also chat with a Librarian 24/7or send us your question through Email Reference and we will get back to you in 48-72 hours.  

I have an Interlibrary Loan book that is due.  What should I do?  
Because ILL items come from libraries all over the world, Houston Public Library cannot extend due dates beyond what the lending library allows.  You may contact our ILL Department at 832-393-1447 with any questions.  We are not accepting any new ILL requests.  Please return ILL books in any HPL book drop.  ILL books will not accrue any fines until we reopen.  

I have books that I want to donate.  Can I drop them off at the Library? 
We ask that you do not bring donations to our locations.  Please hold onto them until the library resumes full services.  

I had an appointment to get my Passport and the appointment was cancelled.  What can I do now?  
When the library re-opens, Passport services will resume.  Passport acceptance facilities across the country have suspended services.  Please visit the State Department website to find a location that may still be open: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/how-apply/where-to-...   

What about Wi-Fi outside of libraries?  
Wi-Fi will continue to be available outside all of our libraries. Please continue to practice social distancing, especially as HPL TO GO locations begin to see increased activity at their entrances.  

Where can I get my taxes done?  I have always used AARP Tax Aide at the library.  
AARP has suspended all of their Tax Aide sites until further notice. https://www.aarp.org/money/taxes/aarp_taxaide The IRS has extended the tax filing deadline until July 15, 2020. The Internal Revenue Service has several online resources to help taxpayers. https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus   

Will the library be offering the Summer Reading Program this year? 
This year’s John P. McGovern Summer Reading Program will be virtual. Please visit www.houstonlibrary.org/summer for additional information and to register! 

Where can I find information on the Census?
Census information has been added to the library’s website: https://houstonlibrary.org/find-it/2020-census#  

Can meeting rooms be reserved during this time?
Currently, meeting rooms are not available for reservations while our locations remain closed to the public. Please check back for any updates.