Resuming library research at JHU

June 25, 2020

Dear Johns Hopkins Community:

It has been encouraging to see faculty, staff, and graduate students based in labs with approved reopening plans begin returning to campus. Now we are pleased to announce that some components of on-campus library-based research will also be resuming shortly as an essential part of the research activities of our university.

Starting Monday, June 29, JHU affiliates may check out books and other circulating materials from all Hopkins libraries using the procedures outlined below. Also, on Monday, July 6, JHU graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty, and staff researchers may begin to reserve time slots to work with noncirculating materials in the Sheridan Libraries Special Collections Reading Room (Homewood), the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives (Mount Washington), and the History of Medicine Library (East Baltimore).

As with the restart of Johns Hopkins laboratories, the decision to resume access to materials in our libraries and research collections relies not only on city and state permissions for more organizations to reopen but also on our own review of medical and public health information in consultation with Johns Hopkins experts. Access to library materials and other research collections at JHU will occur only after significant preparation within these research spaces in particular, and our campuses more generally, to ensure the safety of both staff and users of materials.

We are grateful for the input of the Library Restart Workgroup, consisting of faculty, staff, and PhD students from across the university, as well as guidance from two additional student advisory groups. While considerably more work lies ahead in planning broader access to library spaces, we are thrilled to be able to once again provide access to essential research materials for our graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty, and staff.

Complete information is on our Johns Hopkins Libraries Return to Research webpage. Please note some important details, including:

  • Books from Johns Hopkins libraries may now be returned through contactless drop-off points on the Homewood and East Baltimore campuses.
  • Starting June 29, JHU affiliates may request books or other circulating materials online through Catalyst and indicate whether they would like to pick up borrowed materials from the Eisenhower Library (Homewood), the Welch Medical Library (East Baltimore), or the SAIS Library (D.C.). Users will be notified when materials are ready to be picked up at the entrance of the chosen library.
  • Also starting June 29, users with assigned study carrels or faculty offices in the Eisenhower Library may request that library staff retrieve books or other materials stored there and make arrangements for pickup. Requests to have materials retrieved from a library carrel or office should be sent to
  • To work with noncirculating materials starting July 6, JHU graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty, and staff researchers need to reserve time slots with library staff of the relevant space and indicate in advance the materials they need. Users will have preassigned workspaces that are at least 6 feet from other researchers and from library staff, and they will be required to wear masks at all times. In most cases, requested materials will be awaiting users in their assigned space.
  • Custodial staff will disinfect library research spaces daily. Researchers will be asked to disinfect their own spaces after use (e.g., table surface and chair of their workspace) with supplies provided by JHU.
  • Library materials will be quarantined for 24 hours between users.
  • Each library research space is reopening only after Health, Safety and Environment personnel have reviewed the space and floorplan, posted maximum occupancy for each room that will be used to view noncirculating research materials, and ensured that ventilation and other key features for health and safety are functioning appropriately. Each space also will be equipped with cloths and disinfectant.
  • All individuals on campus, including within library buildings, are required to wear face coverings at all times unless they are in a private office with a closed door.
  • During this phase, there will be no spaces for patrons to eat and drink while in the library. Designated break rooms for library staff will be made available for eating and drinking.
  • We will closely monitor the pandemic to determine whether our plans must be changed. It is possible, if conditions require, that our return could be further limited or reversed, and we ask researchers for their understanding as we seek to put the community‚Äôs health and safety first.

Details about the health and safety guidance and operational aspects that will govern individuals returning to campus are outlined in the JHU Return to Research Guidance and the JHU Return to Campus Guidance. These documents include information on where to go if you have questions or concerns; requirements for face coverings inside and outside JHU buildings, physical distancing, monitoring symptoms, and keeping the density of people in each space low; and more details about policies related to accommodations for those who are at high risk for adverse outcomes from COVID-19 and adjustments for those with other concerns about returning to campus.

Additional information is available in the frequently asked questions section on the JHU Planning website.

Thank you for your patience and flexibility over these last several months and for your vital input during the planning process.


Winston Tabb
Sheridan Dean of University Libraries, Archives, and Museums

Jeremy Greene
William H. Welch Professor of Medicine and the History of Medicine

Nancy Kass
Vice Provost for Graduate and Professional Education