All Tacoma Public Library locations are closed until further notice. Visit our COVID-19 response page for ongoing updates.

TPL Responds to COVID-19

Tacoma Public Library responds to the COVID-19 Outbreak

June 29, 2020

Book drops to open on a rotating schedule

Starting July 1st, we will open selected book drops for returned materials. You can return materials to Fern Hill, and Wheelock branches on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 10 a.m to 5 p.m., or to Moore branch on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 10 a.m to 5 p.m.

Following current best practices, all returned materials will be quarantined in closed, sealed containers for 72 hours. Materials will remain on your account until after the quarantine period is over.


June 17, 2020

Tacoma Public Library announces plan to resume limited services in Phase 2

Tacoma Public Library (TPL) announces its plan to restore limited services, following the Monday, June 1, update to Gov. Inslee’s Safe Start Phase 2 proclamation that included curbside pickup for libraries.

Starting on Tuesday, June 23, TPL plans to:

  • Welcome staff back into select buildings
  • Complete measures to be in compliance with Phase 2 guidelines issued by the Governor
  • Update facilities with safety equipment and social distancing schematics

On Thursday, June 25, TPL plans to:

  • Resume telephone services for reference and general inquiry

The next step will be to open book drops on a rotating schedule. Following current best practices, all returned materials will be quarantined in closed, sealed containers for 72 hours.

After the book drops reopen, curbside service will be phased in at select locations. Due dates on all materials are extended through Tuesday, Sept. 1. TPL patrons are asked to support TPL’s return to services by logging into their accounts and canceling materials holds that they no longer need.

Summer Reading Club materials are already available through curbside pickup through a partnership with Tacoma Public Schools and other community organizations. Summer Reading Club resources, programs, and events for all ages are all online at

During the COVID-19 related closure, TPL turned its focus to building a robust virtual library on its YouTube and social media channels. There you now will find live and on-demand Storytimes, book clubs to join, craft tutorials, short and engaging local history videos, and even live assistance via tele-conferencing. TPL also offers a rich variety of eResources that support any household’s learning, entertainment, and enrichment needs.

“Usage of TPL’s eResources for education and entertainment have skyrocketed since the COVID-19-related closures,” stated Director Kate Larsen. “We are grateful to be able to continue offering meaningful services that are useful to our community while they are staying safe at home. We look forward to interacting with our patrons again as we take steps to reopen safely.”

TPL closed on Saturday, March 14. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 closures on funding revenues, 60% of library staff have been temporarily laid off since late April. Their anticipated return-to-work date is Tuesday, July 28. The library also canceled or postponed one-time capital projects and other efforts to conserve funds.

“Our phased reopening plan takes into consideration that we are making many adjustments to our daily operations and library business as we know it, and the fact that we cannot recall temporarily laid off staff until late July” stated Larsen. “We appreciate having the support of our community as TPL transitions into a new way of serving the Tacoma community.”

Check our social media channels and this webpage for more updates.

COVID-19 Update to Library Services

May 11, 2020 

Tacoma Public Library is following the recommendations of local, state, and national health officials in making the decision to close all library locations to the public in order to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Effective Saturday, March 14, all Tacoma Public Library locations will be closed until further notice.

  • Fines will not accrue during the closure period.
    • Starting on Tuesday, March 17, materials return drop boxes will be closed.
    • Please hold onto library materials until we reopen.
  • All materials currently checked out will be automatically renewed through July 1, 2020.
  • Holds will remain on the pick-up shelves until the libraries reopen.

Parents and caregivers affected by school closures should be aware that Tacoma Public Schools students can use their student ID number to access:

  • Downloadable eBooks and Audiobooks with Overdrive/Libby apps
  • Worksheets and educational activities for elementary-age students through Scholastic Teachables
  • Literacy and learning for younger readers from BookFlix and TrueFlix
  • Educational lessons for all ages via HelpNow - check out the "Skill Surfer" section

See the full list of recommended eResources for students in our Online Library in the K-12 Homework Center.

And, valuable online resources are available to all card holders. Check out the Online Library of A to Z eResources for the full list including:

  • Professional tutorials via Lynda, from LinkedIn Learning
  • eBooks and Audiobooks via OverDrive/Libby app and Hoopla
  • Streaming movies, TV, and the Great Courses with Kanopy and Hoopla
  • Streaming music on Hoopla
  • Digital Magazines on RB Digital

Sharing accurate information from trusted sources is critical to reduce misinformation. It's important to remember COVID-19 isn't connected to race, ethnicity, or nationality. Find and share reliable and current information about the outbreak from local, state and national agencies:

Please check back on this page for ongoing updates on Tacoma Public Library’s response.

COVID-19 Update to Library Staffing

April 29, 2020

The impacts of the COVID-19 crisis continue to affect Tacoma Public Library operations. On April 29, 2020, Tacoma Public Library announced the temporary layoffs of 85 staff members, effective May 4, 2020, through July 25, 2020, though some employees could return earlier. The end date corresponds with the expiration of the federal CARES Act Stimulus that currently expands unemployment benefits.The affected employees are those whose job duties were significantly impacted by the Governor’s mandatory closure of public libraries, and those whose take-home pay is the least impacted. Employees with health care coverage will not lose it during the temporary layoff.

“The temporary layoff plan is designed to preserve income and benefits while allowing us to keep enough staff on hand to manage essential functions, plan for phased re-opening, and to meet new demands on service,” TPL Director Kate Larsen said.  “We would like to thank our labor partners who worked diligently alongside us during this difficult time.

“TPL is committed to contributing to the success of the community and the City of Tacoma as an organization, and this situation is no exception.”

However, Larsen noted, “Tacoma Public Library was only just beginning to recover from the effects of the 2011 recession in rebuilding its efficiencies and public service programs when COVID-19 hit. These temporary layoffs are especially gut-wrenching knowing that Tacoma’s library services, and our organization’s ability to recover from COVID-19 related closures, will be significantly hampered as a result. Furthermore, the contribution of every single staff member is valuable. Tacoma greatly benefits from our staff’s dedication and determination to serve the community.”

Remaining TPL staff will continue to provide essential services, including unemployment application support to all affected City of Tacoma employees. Most non-represented staff at the library, including the Director, are taking a voluntary 11% cut in pay.

Tacoma Public Library’s budget makes up approximately 5% of the City of Tacoma’s General Fund, which is facing upwards of a $40M shortfall in 2020 from the projected loss of revenue from sales, property, and business and operations taxes.

Please check back on this page for further updates on Tacoma Public Library's response to the COVID-19 crisis.

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