Beginning Monday, April 5, Howard County Library System will open for limited in-person services including browsing, computer access, printing, photocopying, scanning, and faxing. Passport services will resume at the East Columbia Branch. Contactless pickup and Bundle Bags will continue to be available at all branches. Watch for details about how to sign up for 45-minute appointments in the coming weeks.

“Our team is grateful for the patience, support and enthusiasm of our customers. While return to our branches will not be a return to a pre-pandemic environment, our Phase 4 reopening plan prioritizes access to critical services our customers rely on for academic achievement, access to technology and workforce development.” said HCLS President & CEO Tonya Aikens. “As we have since last March, we will continue to follow guidance from public health experts to prioritize the health and safety of all who walk through our doors.”

HCLS branches closed on March 16, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff pivoted quickly and effectively to begin working remotely to assist customers, develop and teach virtual classes, make more eBooks and eAudiobooks available, and engage the community. In Phase 2, HCLS shifted from triage operations to preparations for a phased reopening plan. On June 29, the Library moved to Phase 3 with the launch of contactless pickup of materials.


“Our top-ranked library system is a treasure for our community, providing free access to unlimited knowledge and allowing all our residents the opportunity to read, learn, and grow,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “This a great step of progress for our library system, and we know there are many residents who will be thrilled to safely browse and spend time among the stacks. Every day we’re getting closer to normal, but we have to keep working together, let’s continue to StayCOVIDSafe HoCo.”

Starting April 5, customers can make 45-minute appointments to:

  • Access public computers
  • Browse the shelves
  • Check out their own items using self-checkout machines or HCLS’ new Meescan app
  • Print, copy, scan, and fax
  • Ask staff for in-person assistance finding materials or other resources
  • Apply for passports (East Columbia Branch only)

Services that will continue to be available:

  • Contactless pickup
  • Bundle Bags
  • Downloadable ebooks and audiobooks
  • eContent to stream, download, and learn
  • On demand classes and tutorials
  • Virtual classes and events
  • Sign up for a library card
  • Ask staff for assistance by phone, email or web

Appropriate face masks, covering the mouth and nose are required for everyone ages two and up, including those who are vaccinated.

Visit for more information.


Scott E