Contact-Free Returns

Good news! Staggered returns of library materials are being accepted now outside the Main Library. Learn about contact-free holds pickup »

Contact-Free Returns with return items here sign and table with a book in a box

Staggered returns accepted outside the Main Library

Oak Park cardholders can now return library materials they’ve had checked out since before library buildings closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To stagger the flow of materials coming back into the library, we are asking cardholders to follow a schedule by last name (see “When can I return my library materials?” below).

We are accepting returns only on designated tables outside the Main Library, 834 Lake St., Monday through Saturday, between 10 am and 6 pm (see map). Cardboard boxes are set up on the tables for items to be put inside. Returns will not be accepted when left in any other location outside any library building or book drop.

Please know that due dates for materials checked out before March 13 have been extended to July 31, so you don’t need to return your items before then, unless you would like to. We are asking anyone returning items to please follow the guidelines outlined below, as we work together to safely reintroduce services.

Map of Main Library and surrounding area

How will it work?

Following a schedule based on last name, Oak Park cardholders will be able to return materials outside the Main Library entrance, between 10 am and 6 pm, Monday through Saturday.

To stagger the flow of materials coming back into the library, we are asking cardholders to follow the schedule outlined below, based on last name.

Return on or after this date if your last name starts with:

June 22June 23June 24June 25June 26June 27
ABCDEF
June 29June 30July 1July 2July 3July 4
GHI-JKL
July 6July 7July 8July 9July 10July 11
MN-OP-QRST-U
July 13July 14July 15   
VWX-Y-Z   

Please note that due dates for materials checked out before March 13 have been extended through July 31, so you don’t have to return items before then unless you would like to. You will not be charged late fines on materials you checked out at Oak Park library locations.

We are accepting returns only on designated tables outside the Main Library, 834 Lake St., Monday through Saturday, between 10 am and 6 pm (see map above). Cardboard boxes are set up on the tables for items to be put inside. Returns will not be accepted when left in any other location outside any library building or book drop.

The tables with boxes for returns are set up to the southeast of the Main Library entrance. Please note that a different set of tables designated for contact-free holds pickup will be set up to the north of the entrance. Please follow all signs and sidewalk markings to maintain social distancing.

Please note that the library building and parking garage will remain closed.

You may return all formats of materials from all libraries at the designated drop-off location outside the Main Library.

We are asking anyone bringing returns to the Main Library to please:

  • Wear a face covering.
  • Follow all posted signs, pavement markings, and staff instruction.
  • Keep a 6-foot distance from others.
  • Only fill a cardboard returns box to its top edge.

Please know that:

  • Returns happen only in outdoor spaces.
  • Staff and patrons have no physical contact. 
  • All physical library materials are quarantined for a minimum of 3 days before being put back into circulation for the next user.

Our top priorities for library staff to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 include:

  • Personal hygiene
  • Physical distancing
  • Frequent disinfecting of common surfaces
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) 

 In addition:

  • Before reporting to work, staff are required to fill out a daily health screening form and will come to work only if they (and household members) are healthy and have not knowingly been exposed to anyone with COVID-19.
  • A limited number of staff are allowed in the building at the same time.
  • Proper physical distancing practices are in place.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) is provided.
  • High-touch workspaces are regularly cleaned with disinfectant.

To help stagger the flow of items returning to the library, we’ve offered guidance and a schedule by last name (see “When can I return my library materials?” above). We realize that this system may not work for everyone, and we encourage you to do what is right for you, especially when it comes to minimizing the number of trips you’re making to the library.

Please note that due dates for all SWAN materials checked out before March 13 are extended through July 31, so you don’t have to return items before then unless you would like to. You will not be charged late fines on materials you checked out at Oak Park library locations.

If you are coming to the Main Library because you’ve been notified that your holds are ready for pickup, you may bring your materials to be returned as well. However, you must follow separate procedures for holds pickup and for returns. 

Returns cannot be accepted by staff who are bringing holds to your vehicle, and you cannot leave your returns at the holds pickup table. We are accepting returns only on the tables designated for returns outside the Main Library. Returns will not be accepted when left in any other location outside any library building or book drop. 

To help stagger the flow of items returning to the library, we’ve offered guidance and a schedule by last name (see “When can I return my library materials?” above). If members of your household have different last names, we encourage you to do what is right for you, especially when it comes to minimizing the number of trips you’re making to the library.

All returned materials are quarantined inside the library for at least 3 days before they are checked in. As in pre-pandemic times, you will not receive confirmation that your items have been returned. You can check your library account after 10 days to confirm that items are no longer on your account.

To limit in-person contact for patrons and staff, we will not be able to answer account or reference questions when you return materials.

Please continue to contact us online, through our new website chat service (hours vary), and at 708.383.8200 for account assistance.

Putting people & safety first

Our top priorities for library staff to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 include:

  • Personal hygiene
  • Physical distancing
  • Frequent disinfecting of common surfaces
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) 

In addition:

  • This new service happens only in outdoor spaces.
  • Staff and patrons have no physical contact. 
  • Before reporting to work, staff are required to fill out a daily health screening form and will come to work only if they (and household members) are healthy and have not knowingly been exposed to anyone with COVID-19.
  • A limited number of staff are allowed in the building at the same time.
    • Proper physical distancing practices are in place.
    • Personal protective equipment (PPE) is provided.
  • High-touch workspaces are regularly cleaned with disinfectant.
  • All physical library materials are quarantined for a minimum of 3 days before being put back into circulation for the next user.
  • Don’t microwave library items. Most have RFID tags that can catch on fire in a microwave.
  • Don’t leave library materials in a hot car, as extreme heat can damage them.
  • Don’t expose library items to ultraviolet light, which also can damage them.
  • Don’t spray library items with disinfectant, which can damage covers and pages. You may use sanitizing wipes on plastic book covers and DVD and CD cases.

All physical library materials are quarantined for a minimum of 3 days before being put back into circulation for the next user. And among other safety guidelines, our staff wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and routinely disinfect high-touch surfaces.

Right now, based on the library’s plan to safely reintroduce services and reopen buildings, we are at Service Level 1.

At Service Level 2, only the Main Library will open to the public with specific capacity limits and some onsite staff for materials and technology support, with public computer use by appointment only.

At Service Level 3, Dole & Maze branches will reopen, with smaller-scale public meetings and library programs beginning and study room use only by appointment. Also at Service Level 3, there will be full access to materials stacks and special collections.

However, we do not have dates for future service levels yet, as the library continues to monitor recommendations from local and national health authorities for guidance in our next steps and when we can introduce the next service level in our plan. Learn more »

Beginning in mid-August, you will be able to receive materials from other SWAN member libraries. When staff returned to the Main Library on June 1, the first priority was to fulfill Oak Park requests for Oak Park materials. Through this work, and after fulfilling thousands of requests through Contact-Free Holds Pickup, we will soon be prepared to fulfill interlibrary loans between Oak Park and other SWAN libraries. We thank you for your patience and for continuing to use your public library during these stressful and unusual times.

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