Skip to main content

Northwestern Libraries Closed

Update: As of March 20, some library service offerings have changed, particularly related to library access and handling of physical materials. Please visit the COVID-19 Changes to Library Services for the most current information.

Dear members of the Northwestern community,

We want to first thank you for how you’ve responded to this unprecedented situation. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen so many of you respond with resilience and grace, and for that we are grateful.

All of us in the Northwestern community have had to make many difficult decisions over the last week, and there undoubtedly will be more in the days and weeks ahead. Today we share with you one such decision: To best protect the health and well-being of our community, we will close the University’s Evanston and Chicago campus library buildings, starting at 5 p.m. today Wednesday, March 18. The Galter Health Sciences Library will be open, with reduced hours and access only to the Feinberg community.

Only essential library staff will remain on site. To the degree possible, we are implementing remote working for library staff to ensure the continuity of operations that are vital to maintaining the Library as resource to faculty and students for research and remote teaching and learning. With the exception of access to the Entry Tower at the Main Library, students, faculty and staff will not be able to enter the buildings through at least April 17, at which time the University will reassess these policies.

Remote resources and services

The Libraries will continue to offer a host of collections and a suite of resources online including:

  • Immediate help through email and live chat consultations;
  • In-depth research support with subject librarians;
  • Recommendations for course materials ideal for remote learners;
  • Digital delivery of interlibrary loans;
  • Online access to thousands of journals, articles and databases.

Please visit the Libraries’ remote resources and services web page to learn more. For questions about library resources and services, email

Picking up physical materials

Books and other physical materials will be available for in-person pickup at the University Library entrance desk between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday starting tomorrow, through Spring Break and until the Libraries re-open. Place your request via NUsearch.

Returning Library materials

If it is not burdensome to do so, please return materials that you no longer need before you leave campus. Materials may be returned at the entry desk of the Main Library or in the outdoor bookdrops. If unable to return materials at this time for any reason, or if you still need the materials, please keep what you currently have checked out. Until further notice, all materials checked out will be automatically renewed. The Libraries will reach out to you with further instructions when the buildings reopen.

Retrieving materials and personal items

Community members who need to retrieve library materials or personal items from carrels may be able to do so today until 5 p.m., between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, or by appointment. If you have any questions related to your library carrel, please contact

We know the decision to close the Libraries will be difficult for many of you. The Libraries are a vital resource and often places of quiet and inspiration. This decision was not made lightly. We take our response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic very seriously and libraries are, by design, unable to practice social distancing to the degree recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health authorities. The Library and University leadership will remain engaged with the community to ensure the provision of vital library services and will reassess opening buildings as the April 17 date approaches.   

If you have questions, please contact the COVID-19 Resource Center at and 847-467-4111.

Northwestern’s COVID-19 website remains the best source of information about the impact of the virus on our University community and provides answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

Thank you again for your collaboration, your understanding and your support.  



Jonathan Holloway
Provost and Professor 

Kathleen Hagerty
Interim Provost and Professor 

Sarah M. Pritchard
Dean of Libraries