COVID-19 Pandemic – Changes to Library Services

Last updated on Oct. 22, 2020.

The health and safety protocols and restrictions in place for access to library services provide a safe and controlled academic and work environment for students, staff, and faculty. Our services will remain as they are now within the University’s return to a modified version of the Western Phase Three return-to-campus plan, an action taken in light of the recent outbreak of coronavirus cases among Western students. We will continue to closely monitor adherence to the new protocols and will follow guidance from health and safety officials as the situation evolves.

Since we reopened the libraries to the campus community, our visitors have been successfully following safety protocols and we are grateful for the support. To maintain access to library spaces we ask for your continued cooperation and thank you for helping to create a safe and welcoming learning space for our community.

Whether you’re learning, researching, or teaching, virtually or on-campus, we’re here to help with a suite of virtual and on-site services designed to support you.

You have access to a robust collection of online academic research collections, and a team of library staff ready and waiting to help you find what you need through our chat service.

On-campus, we’ve adapted our library spaces to meet public health guidelines to provide you with a safe place to study, use of public computers and printers, and access physical collections through no-contact pickup only.

You can learn more about how to access these and other services through the guide below, our frequently asked questions, or by contacting us for support.

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

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.

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.

Read more

Available collections

Western Libraries

Regular loan print materials are available via no-contact pickup services only and many items limited to in-library use 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

Records services are currently available one day per week (typically Friday) and there may be a delay on requests of up to a week. We cannot accept any new transfers or returns of University records at this time.

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.

Onsite Services

The libraries are open to currently registered students, staff, and faculty to access study space, computers and printers, and no-contact pickup of physical collections.

To protect your health and safety and that of library staff, and in accordance with public health guidelines designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the following policies will be in place at all library locations:

  • All visitors are required to complete a Return to Campus Questionnaire prior to visiting campus
  • All visitors are required to check in and out of the library
  • Access is limited to certain floors and spaces
  • Masks or face coverings and physical distancing is required at all times
  • Seating is fixed and furniture cannot be moved
  • Supplies are provided to clean your space before/after use
  • No food or drink, except water bottles

Using our new booking system, you can see available study seats and computers in each library and book your preferred seat before you arrive.

No-contact pickup of regular loan physical materials is now available for all Western University and Affiliated University College faculty, students, and staff.

Check out our frequently asked questions to find out more about onsite services.

Who can visit?

To adhere to occupancy restrictions and required health and safety protocols to prevent the spread of the virus, including physical distancing and enhanced sanitization of spaces and collections, we are currently prioritizing access to spaces and collections to support registered students, staff, and faculty.

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 University declares it’s safe to move beyond the modified Phase Three status of reopening. See the return to campus plan to learn more.

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 have hand sanitizer stations available and 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.

Assigned research space

We will not accept new assigned research study space applications at The D.B. Weldon Library for the 2020/2021 academic term. Assignments have been renewed for the coming academic year for current occupants who continue to meet the eligibility criteria. Assigned research space is full until April 2021.

If you meet the eligibility requirements and would like to be added to a waitlist, submit an application and we will notify you if a room becomes available.

If you’re a current occupant and no longer need your assigned research space, please email us to arrange to return your key to allow us to assign the space to another occupant.

Course Support

Course readings

Our 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