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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 5/26/20:

Special item return exception for people who have checked out the max number of 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)

See previous updates:

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?

LCPL is planning a phased re-opening similar to what the governor announced for Indiana. During each of these phases we will continue to offer the remote services you've come to rely on, such as Ask a Librarian, online story time, callback service, and digital materials.

Here's our plan:

a facial maskPre-Opening Phase:

Beginning May 11, when Lake County's Stay at Home order officially lifts, staff will return to the buildings in small groups in order to learn new procedures for maintaining a safe work environment, and new procedures for safely handling library materials.

The buildings will not be open to the public.

Your items are not due and you will not accrue late fees.

a blue car with luggage on topCurbside Pickup Phase:

Curbside pick up will officially begin May 27! Keep an eye out for your holds notices! Here's how it works. 

The buildings will not be open to the public.

Items checked out before we closed in March are not due and you will not accrue late fees.

Item Return Phase:

We have over 50,000 items currently out, and this number will increase as curbside service continues.a blue book with an 
arrow on it indicating return In order to avoid book drop flooding, and to have enough space to quarantine all returned items we will be recalling only certain items at certain times.

For items checked out before the building closures:

DVDs may be returned at any time before their due date!

All other materials will have their due dates re-assigned to July 1. Some items may still have renewals available and will renew automatically. You'll get a notification when your item is almost due.

You can check your notification preferences (we highly recommend making sure you have an email address entered) in the Contact Information and Preferences section of your account.

You can also check your due dates at any time by logging in to your account and checking the Items Out section.

If you have hit your item limit for any type of material:
You may return that type of material regardless of due date in order to check out new ones. Remember to let staff know that you have already returned items when you call to pick up your new ones; if they are still in quarantine, we will temporarily override your item limit to allow you to take new items home.

For items checked out using curbside pick up:

These items will be due on their regular circulation schedule (ie: if you check out a 3-day DVD using curbside, it will be due 3 days later as usual.) Please return your items by the due date by dropping them in the book drops. You may return any type of item at any time. 

The buildings will not be open to the public during this phase.

Further Phases:

As we design the further stages of re-opening Lake County Public Libraries, we'll provide any and all services that circumstances allow.

Due to the nature of libraries as congregation spaces, our timeline for fully re-opening the buildings may look a little different from the governor's timeline for the rest of Indiana. Governor Holcomb understands this and even made a special provision for libraries to open on their own timeline in Executive Order 20-26.

There are many things to consider when re-opening library buildings to the public: moving furniture and computers to encourage social distancing, placing clear barriers at the check- out desks to protect staff, and other retrofitting concerns to make the physical space of the library safe for all.

Thank you for your patience and for doing your part to keep Lake County safe!

Are library materials safe to borrow?


When library items are returned, they will enter quarantine for 72 hours before they can be checked out again. This 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.

car with a wifi symbol above it - free parking lot wifiFree WiFi:
Free 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.

Coming soon to more locations!

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 Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 10:30 AM. 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!)

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.

curbside pickup parking space signCurbside Pickup:
Place a hold on an item and go to the library for contact-free curbside pickup.
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?

Yes, but it will look a little different! We'll be hosting our special Summer Reading events virtually rather than in-person, and the way you earn a chance to win prizes will change a bit in acknowledgement of all the digital reading we're doing these days.

Summer Reading will run from July 6 to August 1.

We're still working on further details, but we'll be sure to keep you in the loop. This year's theme is "Imagine Your Story."

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.

What about face masks?

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 when in situations where social distancing may not be possible (such as grocery shopping) to prevent asymptomatic individuals from unknowingly spreading the virus. They do not recommend medical grade face masks or respirators.

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