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LCPL is monitoring the development of COVID-19 in Indiana and adjusting services accordingly. We have been in communication with the Lake County Health Department and are monitoring daily updates from the Indiana Department of Health and the CDC. We are working to offer you as much library service as possible while maintaining your safety and the safety of our staff.

UPDATE 9/16/20:

Overdue Fines are Paused

UPDATE 7/30/20:

Letter to School Boards: How LCPL can Support Schools

UPDATE 7/20/20:

Grab & Go appointments are now available at all locations!
Learn more

UPDATE 7/13/20:

Computer appointments are now available at all locations!
Learn more

See previous updates:

UPDATE 7/6/20:

Grab & Go appointments now available at more branches
Learn more

UPDATE 6/29/20:

Computer appointments now available at more branches.
Grab & Go appointments now available at Merrillville Branch.
Learn more

UPDATE 6/24/20:

Remote printing now available! Send a print and pick up at curbside.

UPDATE 6/19/20:

Computer appointments at Merrillville Branch begin June 29

UPDATE 6/16/20:

Updated Reinstatement of Services Plan (Appointment-based browsing will now be available in an earlier phase!)

Added How Do I Pay a Fine?

UPDATE 6/15/20:

Computer use appointments coming soon!

UPDATE 6/2/20:

Book drops are now open for all item returns!

UPDATE 6/1/20:

Our plan for the reinstatement of library services

UPDATE 5/26/20:

Special item return exception for people who have checked out the max number of items (No longer relevant as book drops are now open for all items)

UPDATE 5/23/20:

Curbside pickup will officially begin 5/27/20

UPDATE 5/15/20:
When are my items due? (minor updates 5/20/20)
What about Imagination Library?

UPDATE 5/8/20:
Outdoor WiFi Now Available (minor updates 5/22/20)

UPDATE 5/7/20:
How is the library ensuring a safe environment?

UPDATE 5/4/20:
When is the library re-opening? (minor updates to item returns 5/15/20, 5/20/20)
Are library materials safe to borrow? (minor updates 5/13/20)
Is Summer Reading happening this year?

UPDATE 4/4/20: Update to the CDC's guidelines on face masks

UPDATE 3/31/20:
How to use the library while we are closed (minor updates 4/2/2020, 4/20/2020, 5/8/20)
Should the building closures continue, due dates will be adjusted accordingly. No items will be due while our buildings are closed.

UPDATE 3/17/20: Please do not return your items or attempt to circumvent the locks on the book drops. All due dates have been changed; nothing is due while we are closed! (Update 3/31/20: Due dates were originally set to April 15; however, these will be updated accordingly as building closures continue.)

UPDATE 3/16/20: The library will close at 5 PM on 3/16/20 and remain closed until further notice.


Here are a few things to know about COVID-19 and Lake County Public Library:

Where can I get accurate information on the spread of COVID-19?

There is a great deal of misinformation out there on COVID-19. All information in this FAQ has been vetted to library standards.

For further accurate, unbiased information we recommend:


The Indiana Department of Health COVID-19 Information Page (includes a sign-up for email updates)

The CDC's How to Protect Yourself Page (includes information on how the virus spreads)

When is the library re-opening?

As we like to say, the library is already open! We're currently offering many services such as curbside pickup, outdoor wifi, digital materials, and much more.

But we get it - you need to print or fax something, you have to use a computer, you miss browsing! Here is our official plan for the gradual reinstatement of each vital library service:

Read the Plan

In Progress: Limited building access

Facial coverings will be required. Learn how to schedule an appointment and read the rules here.

Branches may roll out services at different rates. Each branch is very different and will require different updates and unique safety accomodations.

Please note that when the buildings reopen to the public, we will be taking every safety precaution. That means:a teal face mask

  • Masks will be required
  • Many services will be appointment-only for some time
  • Physical distancing will be enforced

The branches will even look different, with computer stations and furniture altered to promote safe distances, among other things. These physical changes to the branches will take time to implement.

We sincerely appreciate your patience as we navigate the stages of reopening safely. Thank you for reading our plan, and for your support!

When are my items due? When can I return them?

a blue book with an arrow on it indicating return You can check your item due dates any time by logging into your account and looking at the Items Out section.

The book drops are now open for the return of all items! You do not have to wait until your due date to return items.

However, due to the number of materials currently checked out, we may experience some full book drops. If you attempt to return an item and the book drop is full, please keep your item and try again tomorrow. Don't leave your items on the ground near the book drops!

How do I pay a fine?

We are not currently accepting cash.

Fines over $5 can be paid online by credit card. Just log into your account to get started. 

If you prefer not to use a credit card, or if your fine is under $5, you can mail us a check.

Checks should be sent to Merrillville Branch (1919 W. 81st Ave, Merrillville, IN 46410). Make the check out to Lake County Public Library and include your library card number in the comment section, or enclose a note saying which library card or cards it's for. 

Note that having a fine under $5 on your account will not prevent you from using library services!

Are library materials safe to borrow?


When library items are returned, they will enter quarantine for 72 hours before they can be checked out Books with QUARANTINE stamped on them and a calendar showing three daysagain.

72 hours is the maximum time COVID-19 can survive on a plastic surface (and that is under lab conditions designed to be ideal for the virus; in practice it is likely much shorter). The virus can only survive on paper for 24 hours, but we are exercising an abundance of caution given the many varieties of materials we loan out.

This means that after you return an item, it will be three business days before it is actually checked in. Don't worry about your item becoming overdue in those three days; we've accounted for the quarantine period in our system and you will not be charged a fine if you returned the item on time.

Quarantining materials is more effective than disinfecting them using chemical, heat, or light treatments. There is no cleaning process that can disinfect every single page of a book, or that can kill viruses on a DVD without causing damage. Quarantine can.

Any item you check out has been quarantined for 72 hours or longer and is safe to handle. Please do not attempt to heat, bleach, spray, or otherwise sanitize your library materials. 

How do I use the library's services while the library is closed?

You just need a resident library card number and PIN. If you don't already have a library card, you can get one here.

Forgot your PIN? Here are step-by-step instructions on what to do to recover it while we're closed.

Don't forget - high school students have their eLibrary cards (aka Digital Access Cards). Most high schools in our district handed these out at the beginning of the school year so that high schoolers who go to school in our district can use our online collection even if they live in a different library district.

Digital Collection:
If you're an LCPL resident, your library card still gets you access to all of our online collections, like Overdrive/Libby, Hoopla, and Freegal. You can see all of our digital offerings here.

  • Hoopla borrows have increased from 8 to 16 per month.
  • We're purchasing Overdrive/Libby ebooks and audiobooks at an accelerated rate to fill holds and requests more quickly during our closure.
  • Freegal streaming has increased from 5 hours per day to 24 hours per day.

Databases and Online Learning:
Our online research tools are available - they're great for students still learning at home. You'll also find plenty of resources there for anyone wanting to learn new skills, crafts, languages, and more.

Free WiFi:
car with a wifi 

symbol above it - free parking lot wifiFree WiFi is available in the following branch parking lots seven days a week from 9 AM - 9 PM:

  • Cedar Lake Branch Parking Lot
  • Dyer-Schererville Branch East Parking Lot
  • Griffith-Calumet Township Parking Lot
  • Highland Parking Lot (extending to Highway Ave)
  • Hobart Parking Lot
  • Lake Station-New Chicago Branch Parking Lot
  • Merrillville Branch West Parking Lot
  • Munster North and South Parking Lots
  • St. John Branch East Parking Lot

Please remain in your vehicle while using our outdoor WiFi.

Ask a Question:
Library staff are still monitoring our Ask a Librarian service, so feel free to drop us a line if you have any questions!

We have also introduced a new callback service: Dial 219-769-3541 and leave a message. A librarian will call you back within 1 business day!

Activities for All Ages:
We are thrilled to offer virtual storytime on five times a week at 10:30 AM, with a bonus Book Break on Sundays at 3 PM. Go to our YouTube page to join in!

  • Tuesday & Saturday: Picture Book Storytime
  • Wednesday: Mother Goose on the Loose (for babies 0 - 24 months)
  • Thursday: Middle Grade Book Tasting (The first chapter of a book your older kids might like. They can find the rest on Hoopla or Overdrive/Libby!)
  • Friday: Book Break (longer picture book readings)
  • Sunday: Bonus Book Break

Kids Activity Page: designed specially by our librarians to keep kids active and learning while staying home.

Teen & Adult Activity Page: things to learn and do while at home, created by our librarians just for you.

Library Appointments:

with a clockYou can make a Grab & Go appointment or a computer use appointment! 

Learn all about library appointments

Appointments are available at select locations depending on staffing. If your branch is not offering appointments or doesn't have one at the time you need, feel free to visit another one!

Remote Printing:
Send us what you need printed and pick it up during curbside hours!

Prints are black and white only and cost 5 cents/page. See more details and submit your file here.

Curbside Pickup:
Place a hold on an item and go to the library for contact-free curbside pickup. curbside pickup parking space sign
Here's how it works.

Is my group still meeting at the library?

No. The library has canceled all meeting room and study room bookings, outreach events, and library events in order to support Lake County's social distancing efforts.

In addition, all LCPL locations are closed until further notice.

What about Imagination Library?

As far as we know, there should be no disruptions to book delivery for children already signed up, approved, and processed in Imagination Library.

New applicants may experience a delay in approval to join the program. You can print an application and snail mail it back to the library, or scan it and email it to

Is Summer Reading happening this year?

Summer reading ran from July 6 to August 1 this year. Rather than track pages and turn in logs, we had an entirely online sign-up with only one requirement: Have fun reading.

We posted a bunch of fun Imagine Your Story themed activities for kids to enjoy in place of coming into the library for events. The activities are still posted here if you'd like to enjoy them a little longer! We also had a blast virtually traveling to different locations around the country to learn different animals and habitats.

We don't know what summer reading will look like in 2021, but we're looking forward to reading with you again!

Imagine Your Story with puss in boots, the frog prince, and a tiger reading a book

How is the library ensuring a safe environment?

As staff return to the buildings to expand library services, we want to reassure you that we are doing everything possible to make sure staff remain safe while at work.  

Per executive order 20-26, you can read our safeguards document here. This document is subject to change as new situations arise.

Safety Measures: Mask, arrows showing 6 feet, hand washing icon

How can I protect myself and others from COVID-19?

Here are the CDC's recommendations: 

We spoke with the Lake County Health Department, and they reiterated that the most effective way of stopping the spread of COVID-19 (and the flu for that matter) is to wash your hands thoroughly, with soap, for at least 20 seconds.

Here is further information from the CDC's How to Protect Yourself page.

Why do I have to wear a face mask in the library?

The CDC has updated their face mask guidelines in light of new evidence regarding asymptomatic carriers: those who show no symptoms, but may still be infected.

The CDC advises wearing cloth face coverings to prevent asymptomatic individuals from unknowingly spreading the virus. They do not recommend medical grade face masks or respirators.

When you arrive for an appointment at the library, you will be required to wear a face covering before you can enter the building. Face coverings must cover your nose and mouth. Homemade face coverings, such as scarves or bandanas, are acceptable. 

If you are unable to wear a mask or other face covering, please let us know when you schedule your appointment. We're happy to work with you to find a solution that allows you to access our services.

Please read the CDC's cloth face coverings FAQ

See also: CDC guidelines for making your own face covering

I think I have symptoms...

COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you live in Indiana and are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, have a recent history of travel to China, or contact with someone who may be ill with COVID-19, please call the ISDH Epidemiology Resource Center:


After hours number: 317-233-1325