NYC’s Libraries Are Reopening This Month

New York City’s three public library systems—Brooklyn Public Library, The New York Public Library, and Queens Public Library—will “restore near full service” this month. That means all remaining locations that haven’t previously reopened in some capacity, will reopen with near pre-pandemic hours and with similar offerings you enjoyed before 2020. Some pandemic policies will remain, however — notably, each system will also continue to waive overdue fines through at least September 2021, and they will keep practicing COVID safety protocols (including mask-wearing). 

The NYPL—which serves Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx—will kick things off today, July 6th, by reopening the iconic Rose Main Reading Room at the 42nd Street library for the first time since the pandemic shut it all down last March. In their announcement, they note patrons will be able to “quietly sit, read, research, think, study, use computers”—a very similar list of options you had while in your home for the past year, sure, but now you can do it all while surrounded by fellow New Yorkers.

Amidst the reopenings also comes a grand opening: there’s now an entirely new public rooftop space, just across from the 42nd Street branch at the NYPL’s Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (455 Fifth Avenue). The space will have a strict capacity on the roof, operating on a first come, first served basis, so prepare to be turned away. Why? I mean, have you seen this thing? It’s a stunner:



The new rooftop at Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (455 Fifth Avenue).
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The new rooftop at Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (455 Fifth Avenue). Max Touhey / NYPL



The new rooftop at Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (455 Fifth Avenue).
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The new rooftop in the evening! John Bartelstone / NYPL



The new rooftop at Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (455 Fifth Avenue).
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And there are trees on the roof. Max Touhey / NYPL

Each system is rolling out their reopening a little differently, so here’s a breakdown provided by the libraries so you know what to expect in your borough:

Brooklyn Public Library

  • Beginning on June 28, the Brooklyn Public Library will expand services at an additional 14 branches including access to seating.
  • As of June 28, patrons can now browse the collections on the first floor, access computers and printing, sign up for library cards, pick up holds and return materials at all branches in the borough which are not under construction or being used by the city. Indoor seating will return to all these locations between June 28 and July 2.
  • By July 17, patrons can access all building floors for browsing and seating, including the new Business and Career Center at Central Library. Patrons will no longer be limited to the first floor and hours are expanding at all BPL locations. The new hours of service will be: Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 10 am – 6 pm; Tuesday: 1–8 pm; Thursday: 10 am – 8 pm; Saturday: 10 am – 5 pm.
  • BPL will continue to offer outdoor programs during warm weather.
  • The virtual library remains in place.
  • Masks remain mandatory at all BPL locations.

The New York Public Library (which covers the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island)

  • All available locations will be open on Tuesday, July 6 (nine branches will be unavailable because they are under construction or need repairs. Those include. Hunts Point and Melrose in the Bronx; Fort Washington, Grand Central, Hamilton Fish, Jefferson Market, and Terence Cardinal Cooke–Cathedral in Manhattan; and Port Richmond and Charleston in Staten Island. An additional five branches are currently in use by the city and will open as soon as possible in July. Those include Riverdale, Mariners Harbor, St. Agnes, Dongan Hills, and Hamilton Grange)
  • All locations will offer unlimited browsing, desktop computer use, laptop loan, and general library use, including open seating.
  • In-person public programs and classes will begin being reinstituted in July. It may take several weeks and months to return to a full slate of indoor programs and classes.Outdoor programs are being planned throughout July. 
  • All research centers are currently open by appointment only; as of July 6, while appointments will still be required for most collections use (as they were pre-pandemic), service will be expanded to permit some walk-in visitors. For example, those who want to engage in quiet study, thought, computer use, and so on will be able to access public reading rooms at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, including the iconic Rose Main Reading Room. Those looking to just view the iconic room must enter as part of an NYPL-led tour. Watch nypl.org/appointments for updated information on what each research center requires and offers; it will be updated in the coming weeks. 
  • The rooftop space at the newly-transformed Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL) at 40th Street and Fifth Avenue will open. The renovated central circulating branch, which officially opened on June 1, will now have nearly all eight floors open for near pre-pandemic service (the exception is the Pasculano Learning Center, which will open in September). There are strict capacities on the roof space, so it will be first come, first served.
  • Pre-pandemic hours are expected to return on Monday, July 19 (with some slight alterations considering current usage patterns); patrons should check nypl.org before visiting for the most up-to-date hours.
  • Masks remain mandatory at all NYPL locations.

Queens Public Library

Starting Tuesday, July 6:

  • COVID-related capacity and browsing limits and distancing requirements lifted
  • Unlimited browsing and customer seating available at all open locations
  • Computer time limit returns to 60 minutes
  • Masks will be optional for staff and customers who are fully vaccinated and required for individuals who are not fully vaccinated.

Starting Monday, July 12:

  • All available locations will be open to the public. Locations that will be unavailable to reopen on that date include Court Square, Flushing, Glendale, Ozone Park, Pomonok, Queens Village, Queensbridge Tech Lab, South Jamaica, Steinway, and Woodhaven.
  • Public hours will be extended at each available location. For updates visit: www.queenslibrary.org
  • Virtual programs and resources will continue to be offered at QPL, and planning for indoor public programs and classes is underway.

For more information on your library branches hours and reopening timeline, visit the library websites at bklynlibrary.org, nypl.org, and queenslibrary.org.

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