When should I return my books? Here’s what you need to know about the UC Berkeley Library’s closure.

UC Berkeley’s libraries, along with many other institutions and businesses — from the bookstore down the street to Disneyland to, yes, even GameStop — are closed, part of the sweeping effort to flatten the coronavirus curve.

But the Library is still here to help.

Members of the Library’s staff have been receiving an influx of questions from patrons as they navigate this new, albeit temporary, way of life.

Here are answers to some of the questions we’ve gotten — plus a few extra tidbits that might make life a little easier.

When should I return my books (and the other materials I’ve borrowed)?

The Library has pushed back the due dates for all items due between March 1 and Aug. 30 to provide relief to borrowers. For those materials, the due date is now Monday, Aug. 31. (Due dates may change as the situation develops. Check here for the latest information.)

The Library is asking students and faculty to wait until its buildings reopen to return materials. (As of now, an opening date has not been announced.) But if you are leaving the area and cannot wait for the libraries to reopen, you can return books to the book drop outside the south entrance of Doe Library, near the Campanile. Most other book drops on campus are closed.

If you have materials other than books you need to return or if you have any other questions about returning materials, please contact privdesk@library.berkeley.edu. (Please don’t put electronic devices in the book drop.)

In the meantime, you can renew items proactively through My OskiCat.

Is this book available online? How can I access materials for my research?

The Library has launched a COVID-19 Portal, which compiles many of our online offerings, including e-books, databases, and other materials, as well as information on how to connect to Library resources while you’re not on campus.

A new emergency service provided by HathiTrust, the massive nonprofit digital repository, will allow current UC Berkeley students, faculty, and staff to access digital versions of millions of the physical volumes held by libraries across the University of California system while Library buildings are closed.

And the Library’s Interlibrary Services department is still up and running, working to fill patron’s requests for digital copies of articles. (Place a request online.)

If there’s something you can’t find, send requests through the purchase recommendation form. The Library is prioritizing digital versions of materials, which can be delivered more quickly.

I’m not a UC Berkeley student (or faculty or staff member). Can you point me to some free resources I can use for my research?

If you are not affiliated with UC Berkeley and don’t have a CalNet ID, check out the Library’s guide to free online resources for researchers.

With classes now online, is there any way I can access digital versions of my textbooks or course materials?

Take a look at this guide, which helps connect students and instructors with online versions of their textbooks and other course materials.

For access to feature films and documentaries, please see our streaming video guide.

Can I still get help from a librarian?


If you need research help, you can email or chat with a librarian 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is staffed by Berkeley librarians, but during off-hours (or if our librarians are busy), you might be connected with a librarian from another academic library. Schedule an online consultation with a subject librarian (see a list here) by email or through the appointment link. Instructors can also arrange for a librarian to provide remote instruction for their courses.

Is (event name) still happening?

The Library’s in-person events have been canceled, postponed, or moved online. Cal Day, UC Berkeley’s annual open house, will become Cal Week, and digital offerings will replace the usual in-person fare. The Library Prize reception and DH Fair are among the other upcoming events slated to be held in virtual settings. Check out the Library’s events calendar here.

When will the libraries open again?

It’s unclear how much longer the Library’s operations will be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. UC Berkeley’s library buildings have been closed since 5 p.m. Monday, March 16, on the heels of the news of a shelter-in-place order by Alameda County.

The university has moved classes online through the end of the semester and is delaying its May commencement ceremony. (Keep up with how the university is responding to the coronavirus on its coronavirus information page.)

The Library is monitoring the situation closely. Stay updated on Library News and on Twitter and Facebook.

What other resources should I know about?

During the crisis, many publishers have made trials and other offerings available to UC Berkeley students, faculty, and staff.

Here are a few of them:

What can I do for fun while sheltering in place?

We’ve got you covered there, too — and the choices are aplenty.

Want to pick up a new hobby, learn a new craft, or brush up on your skills? Head to LinkedIn Learning. The online learning platform offers courses in design, photography, computer programming, filmmaking, and much more — and UC Berkeley students, faculty, and staff have free access.

You can also immerse yourself in a story through OverDrive, which provides access to bestselling works you can read or listen to from anywhere. (All you need is a CalNet ID.)

Berkeley librarians have suggested some books to read while self-isolating (all of which are freely available online). Along with their reading recommendations, they’ve offered some words of wisdom, encouragement, and support for this challenging time.

Have a question that hasn’t been answered here? Send it to eref@library.berkeley.edu.