COVID-19 Pandemic – Changes to Library Services

Published on August 10, 2020.

We are excited to welcome you back to our libraries this September. We’ve been working alongside campus health and safety partners and public health experts to adapt library services to meet provincial guidelines. This means reducing occupancy in library spaces to support physical distancing, requiring all visitors to wear face masks, and enhancing cleaning and sanitization procedures. It also means prioritizing access to spaces to support currently registered students, staff, and faculty.

We need your help to keep campus libraries safe. We know some of the changes in place will take some getting used to. We ask for your cooperation and thank you for your patience while we all work together to create a safe and welcoming learning space for our community.

Libraries remain closed to the public at this time. You can request no-contact pick up and digital delivery of physical materials and access materials in our archives and special collections through an appointment-based service. Please see Research Support for full details.

Visit Western’s COVID-19 page to read the latest campus updates in full.

Visiting the Library

The D.B. Weldon Library will reopen to currently registered students, staff, and faculty the week of August 31. We’ll use this time to test and adapt our new health and safety protocols in advance of opening additional library locations.

We plan to open the C.B. "Bud" Johnston (Business), John & Dotsa Bitove Family Law, Music, and Allyn & Betty Taylor Libraries on Sept. 8. We will update all location hours on our website closer to our reopening.

On-site services

To protect your health and safety and that of library staff, and in accordance with public health guidelines, the following policies will be in place at all library locations:

  • All visitors will be required to check in and out of the library
  • Access will be limited to certain floors and spaces
  • Masks and physical distancing is required at all times
  • Seating will be fixed and furniture cannot be moved
  • Supplies will be provided to clean your space before/after use
  • No food or drink, except water bottles

Using our new booking system, you’ll be able to see available study seats and computers in each library and book your preferred seat before you arrive.

Small equipment such as laptop and cellphone chargers will not be available at this time. You’re encouraged to bring your own equipment and supplies.

Access to print/scan stations will be available. Funds for printing will only be accepted online via Papercut. Supplies will be provided to sanitize the print/scan stations after each use.

Who can visit?

In September, we are prioritizing access to spaces and collections to support currently registered students, staff, and faculty. This will allow us to adhere to capacity restrictions and required health and safety protocols, including physical distancing and enhanced sanitization of spaces and collections.

Please do not visit if:

  • You have travelled outside Canada during the previous 14 days.
  • You have symptoms of COVID-19 or are feeling unwell.
  • Someone in your household has COVID-19 symptoms in the past 14 days.
  • Anyone in your household has been exposed to someone who has or is recovering from COVID-19.

We look forward to welcoming alumni and community visitors back to our libraries once the fall semester gets underway and we can manage the additional capacity.

Keeping our community safe

We have implemented a number of measures, including directional arrows, signage, and removal of seating and equipment so that physical distancing can be achieved. We will have an increased number of hand sanitizer stations available and you will be provided with supplies for sanitizing shared surfaces such as desks, chairs, and computer equipment between uses.

Custodial staff will perform their normal cleaning routines for library spaces and sanitize high-touch surfaces (i.e. door handles, washrooms, stair rails) twice a day. We will limit access to certain library floors and spaces; food and drink (except water) will not be permitted, allowing custodial staff to focus their efforts.

Returning materials

If you have outstanding loans, or if you have materials checked out that you no longer require, you can return them to The D.B. Weldon Library (Weldon) returns bin located to the right of the main entrance. Please continue to follow good hygiene practices, as the handle is not being regularly sanitized.

If you’re unable to come to campus to return items, please contact us to explore other options.

Research Support

Get help

Research help is available for students and faculty through chat and email.

Library staff will also be available for in-depth virtual consultations.

Electronic collections

We have enhanced our electronic collections to support your teaching, learning and research needs while you work remotely.

Print collections

Digital delivery

All Western University and Affiliated University College faculty, students, and staff can now request portions of eligible physical library materials to be delivered in PDF form by email as allowable under existing copyright laws and fair dealing guidelines.

Digital delivery offers broad access to physical collections, including book chapters, journal articles, government documents, reference works, and more. Your digital copy will be accessible for 30 days and you can open it 10 times, print, or save it to your computer.

Choosing digital delivery first means you can conveniently request and access material from anywhere. It also allows more people to access the same item, bringing library collections to as many users as possible.

How to request digital delivery

To request digitized material, such as journal articles and book chapters, locate the item in Omni, the library search tool, and click “Digitization”. You will receive an email with instructions for accessing your digitized material within seven days.

No-contact pickup

No-contact pickup of regular loan print materials is now available for all Western University and Affiliated University College faculty, students, and staff. In September, you’ll be able to pick up materials at additional library locations.

How to request no-contact pickup

To request print material, locate the item in Omni, the library search tool, and click “Request”. All requests will be available for pick up at the The D.B. Weldon Library. You will receive an email with instructions for picking up your item(s) within seven days.

Print items are loaned for 120 days with unlimited renewals. Loaned material is not eligible for recall by users but staff reserve the right to recall physical items to support course readings or critical research needs.

No-contact pickup hours: Noon to 3 p.m., Monday to Friday.

How it works

Place your request using the “Request” link in Omni, the library search tool.

You will receive an email when your item(s) is available for pick up, within seven days. Please wait until you receive this email before you come to campus. We’ll do our best to prepare your request in a timely manner. The introduction of enhanced health and safety protocols for staff and users means it may take us longer than usual to prepare your request; thank you for your patience and understanding.

On arrival at The D.B. Weldon Library front entrance:

  • Line up outside Door A (as labelled). In the event a line forms, markers have been placed on the ground six feet apart to provide for physical distancing and traffic flow.
  • Have your Western ID ready.
  • Call 226-378-9863 and provide your last name.
  • We’ll confirm your account details and check your item(s) out to you.
  • We’ll meet you at Door A and check your Western ID from behind the glass door.
  • We’ll place your item(s) on the pick-up table located outside of Door B.
  • You may pick up your item(s) when we have returned inside the building.
  • If you have not received permission to return to campus as outlined in Western’s Phased Return to Campus strategy, please leave campus promptly after picking up your materials.

If you have questions or need additional assistance to pick up your items, please contact us.

Who is eligible?

All Western and Affiliated University College faculty, faculty emeriti, students, and staff are eligible for digital delivery and no-contact pickup.

At this time, alumni, guest and direct borrowers, and retired faculty and staff are not eligible for no-contact pickup or digital delivery services. As a first step in renewed access to our print collections, we are prioritizing Western University and Affiliated University College faculty, staff, and student access to facilitate University research and scholarship and to ensure critical course materials are available for students working in an online environment.

Available collections

Western Libraries

You can request all regular loan print materials for no-contact pickup and many of our in-library use items are available for digital delivery.

Interlibrary loan is currently available for digital material.

If you require access to a collection not available for digital delivery or no-contact pickup, or if we don’t have an item you’re looking for, contact us.

Archives and Special Collections

Faculty, students, and staff can request in-person, appointment-only access to rare items and materials from archival and special collections, including our map collection. All visitors are required to wear a face mask and maintain physical distance. We will supply disposable masks if necessary. Requests will be limited to a maximum of 10 books or five boxes and appointments are limited to one person.

To book a visit, email staff indicating the materials you’d like to view along with a desired appointment date and time. Initially we are providing two two-hour appointment slots available Tuesdays and Thursdays noon-2 p.m. or 2-4 p.m. Please allow at least two business days’ notice when requesting an appointment.

Digital delivery may be available for certain materials upon request via

Affiliate University Colleges

The Brescia and Huron collections are also available for no-contact pickup and digital delivery.

If you choose to pick up items from Brescia, please visit their website for specific pick-up instructions.

The King's University College Library collection is available for no-contact pickup at The D.B. Weldon Library or Beryl Ivey Library at Brescia.

Safe handling of library materials

Returned library materials will be quarantined for 72 hours. Recommendations for how long to quarantine collections returned by users varies. The International Federation of Library Associations has identified a number of studies regarding the viability of coronavirus on multiple types of surfaces over time. One study published March 17 and repeatedly cited shows that COVID-19 will persist on cardboard surfaces for up to 24 hours and on plastic surfaces for up to 72 hours. These findings were confirmed by REALM (the REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums Project) in research released June 22. Based on this research, we’re adopting a quarantine period of 72 hours for material returns before they are processed by staff.

How you can help

We kindly ask you to partner with us to keep the Western community safe and healthy.

When picking up library material, please respect the signage and markers regarding physical distancing and traffic flow.

We’re doing our best to get requested digitized and print materials to you in a timely manner. We thank you for your patience.

Interlibrary loans (RACER)

Interlibrary Loan (RACER) requests are limited to online materials only.

If you require access to a collection not available for digital delivery or no-contact pickup, or if we don’t have an item you’re looking for, contact us.

COVID-19 Resources

We’ve created and curated a list of COVID-19 resources to help support our community.

Course Support

Course readings

Western Libraries’ Course Readings service is here to support your development of online courses. We understand this transition poses new challenges, and our service will help you make arrangements for accessible, digital content wherever possible.

We will:

  • Create stable links to online resources
  • Purchase new e-books for the collection
  • Search our databases of expanded publisher collections, available for a limited time
  • Assist with copyright compliance and pay clearance fees
  • Help you integrate your Course Readings into OWL
  • Support your students’ accessibility needs

We're unable to set up short-term loans for physical material at this time.

To get started, add the Course Readings plugin tool to your OWL course site or send us your syllabus. Requests will be processed in the order they are received.

For more information, visit the Course Readings Guide or contact

For tips on how to find online course materials check out our guide, Find Online Course Materials.


If you have any copyright related questions connected to your online course content, please contact

Teaching support

For instructors preparing online courses, we’ve curated a list of how-to videos you can add to your OWL courses.

The Teaching and Learning team is available to provide library instruction to your students. Contact us to discuss instruction options in a virtual or blended environment. We can help you assemble key resources, integrate digital library materials into online courses or assignments, and develop content that will enhance student learning.


Contact for questions regarding library services.

For questions about Western’s COVID-19 policies and procedures, visit