This FAQ will be updated as plans are developed and implemented. Responses are based on current information and subject to change. For all other questions, email .

For more general questions about steps that Duke is taking to combat COVID-19, please see  Duke’s Coronavirus Response website.

Last modified September 4, 2020

Frequently Asked Questions





What in-person library services are available during the Fall 2020 semester?

What precautions are you taking to protect library users and staff and minimize risk of infection?

The safety of library staff and members of the Duke community is our highest priority. Library staff will follow all state and university public health guidelines, including maintaining social distance, wearing masks, handwashing frequently, sanitizing and disinfecting workspaces and equipment, and self-monitoring for symptoms. In addition, we will be quarantining collection materials for 48 hours between hand-offs to minimize the risk of viral spread through book and other collection surfaces.

To protect the health and safety of all who enter the library buildings, we expect that everyone will abide by the requirements of the Duke Compact . Anyone behaving in a manner that does not protect the health and safety of those around them will not be permitted to enter the building, or will be asked to leave.


Can I get physical books and materials from the library?

Yes! Faculty, staff, and students can now pick up books and other materials with minimal contact through the Library Takeout Service . Items can be requested from Perkins & Bostock Libraries, Lilly Library, Music Library, and the Library Service Center. We will expand the takeout service to other users as soon as we are able. For more on expected turnaround times for using the Library Takeout Service, see the question on wait times below.

Can I retrieve books and other materials myself from the stacks?

No. Because of the significant square footage of the library facilities and the lack of central resources required to adequately monitor and clean those spaces, stacks in all buildings will be closed to non-library personnel, including faculty and students. Instead, materials may be requested through the library catalog via our Library Takeout Service.

When I pick up my book, should I clean or disinfect it?

No! Please don’t clean or disinfect library materials. It may damage the materials, and it’s not necessary, given the precautions our staff will be taking. Materials requested for pickup will be placed in paper bags on carts and quarantined, untouched, for a minimum of 48 hours before the carts are rolled into the pick-up area. The 48-hour quarantine is based on scientific research on how long coronavirus survives on different surface materials.

How do I make a digitization request?

For digitization related to courses, please submit requests through the library’s Course Reserves website . While we will make every effort to secure digital access or digitize materials for courses, copyright law limits how much we can copy in some circumstances.

For digitization related to research, contact your subject librarian or Ask a Librarian to see if we can help you identify an existing digital copy. For materials that are not available digitally, we are developing a plan for a temporary service to digitize research-related requests and will communicate in the coming weeks how to submit requests.

To submit requests for materials held by the Rubenstein Library, follow these online directions and place requests directly through the catalog.

For more on expected turnaround times for digitization requests, see the question on wait times below. There may be significant delays for libraries where facility logistics limit our ability to implement social distancing and adhere to other public health guidance.

What will be the average wait times between requesting a book or scan, and receiving it?

It is likely that the turnaround will be longer than usual. To protect the safety of staff and patrons, we will be operating at minimal staffing levels with workflows modified to allow for social distancing and the required 48-hour quarantine of library materials. For scans, we anticipate it will typically take 2-3 days to process most requests. For books, the wait time will typically be 5-7 days . Quarantine protocols for handling physical materials make requests for “rush” or expedited delivery less feasible for the time being. We will add staff and increase service levels as public health guidance allows. In the meantime, we thank you for your patience with any delays or inconvenience. While we are making every effort to digitize and provide access to materials as quickly as possible, in some cases there may be delays due to heightened demand (for example, at the beginning of the semester) or due to short staffing. Please plan ahead as much as possible.

This information only applies to the Duke University Libraries (Perkins, Bostock, Rubenstein, Lilly, Music, and the Library Service Center). For guidance about other libraries, please see their library webpages.

When will I be able to request books from Interlibrary Loan (ILL) and TRLN again?

Borrowing from our TRLN partners is available.  Search the TRLN shared catalog and use the green request button to ask for materials from NC Central, NC State and UNC Chapel Hill.  You will be notifed when the items arrive at Duke and instructed to make an appointment for Library Takeout.
Other physical Interlibrary Loan (ILL) will not resume until Duke and at least a few of our partner libraries are able to begin lending materials beyond their home institutions. Throughout the campus shutdown, we have continued to accept and fill ILL requests for scanned articles and book chapters based on availability. We will resume accepting requests for physical materials through ILL when we have the capacity to do a high level of shipping and receiving of collection materials. ILL borrowing, as always, is dependent on partner libraries being open and staffed to process requests.

Can I recall books that are checked out?

No. At this time, we are not recalling books, because so many library users are away from campus and unable to return items to campus. If you need a book that is currently checked out, please submit a purchase request , and we will try to obtain an electronic copy for you.

I cannot travel domestically or internationally to work with the research materials that I need at another archive or library. Is there anything you can do to help?

As a general rule, our library staff do not have any special influence with other archives and libraries. We recommend that you contact the other institution directly to explain your research need and request their assistance. However, our subject expert librarians and archivists may be able to help you identify related or alternative materials in the Duke Libraries collections or licensed resources, or collections available in digital form at other institutions. If you aren’t sure whom to contact, email .

I have to return library materials and/or interlibrary loan materials. Where should I return them?

All fines and late fees generated between March 8th and August 30th will be waived. If you would like to return materials from any Duke library, or materials that we acquired for you through interlibrary loan, please use one of the following options.

If you are in Durham:

Option 1: Deposit books in our outside book return, built into the wall of Perkins Library near the triple entrance doors on the quad. Materials can also be returned to Lilly Library and the Music Library, on East Campus. 

Option 2: Drop off your materials in a box at Duke’s off-site shipping and receiving facility at 100 Golden Drive, Durham, NC, 27705 . Please note the following for drop off at this location:

  • Drop off at this facility is limited to the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m, Monday through Friday.
  • Park in the rear parking lot and enter through the warehouse. A bin is set up for book collection by the warehouse.
  • Place your materials in a box clearly labeled with Perkins Library, Attn: Access and Delivery Services .
  • Please practice social distancing, especially as you encounter Duke staff working at this facility.

If you are out of town you can ship books to:

Perkins Library
411 Chapel Drive
Durham, NC 27708
Attn: Access and Delivery Services

Please obtain a tracking number for your package when shipping it to Durham. All due dates were extended to August 30th. For safety reasons there will be at least a 48 hour delay between the time materials are returned and when they are checked in and cleared from your account, but they will be held securely during the interval.

Questions? Contact


Can I go inside the library?

The OIT Service Desk in the Link in Perkins Library is open by appointment only. If you have an appointment with OIT in the Link, enter through the Perkins side entrance. You will be required to check in and present a Duke ID upon entry.

Duke students, faculty, and staff with a valid Duke ID will be able to enter library buildings in order to access study spaces, classrooms, ePrint stations, and other designated resources and services. Affiliates and visiting scholars cannot use library buildings or in-person services. Access to many entrances will be card-swipe only, and library users will be required to check in, present a Duke ID and Symptom Monitoring Clearance upon entry, and abide by the Duke Compact at all times.

What hours will the library be open?

Please see Library Hours for up-to-date information on the availability of spaces and services.

Where can I study in the library?

Quiet, open, individual study spaces will be available in Bostock, Rubenstein, Lilly, Music, and the Duke Marine Lab Library, configured in such a way to maintain safe social distancing. At each location furniture will be removed, seating will be marked for use, and signage will be used to promote social distancing and other campus safety protocols. Because study seating is limited, you will need to reserve a seat through an online seat reservation system. Reserve study seats and equipment in the library.

What about Perkins Library? Will I be able to study there?

Students with assigned carrels or access to the Doctoral Research Space (DRS) will be able to make reservations to use these spaces. In order to support an active physical materials delivery service and provide a safe working environment for library staff, all other areas of Perkins Library will remain closed to non-library staff for most services. This includes the Prayer/Meditation Room, the Oasis, and other designated spaces in the library.

What about graduate student carrels and the Doctoral Research Space in Perkins Library?

We will provide access to carrel spaces in the Perkins and Bostock Libraries and to the Doctoral Research Space (DRS) in Perkins for registered graduate student users by reservation only. Those students will only have access to their designated spaces and will not be otherwise permitted in the library stacks or to browse materials. More information about reserving seats in the DRS and graduate carrels is coming soon.

I'm a faculty member. Can I get a carrel in the library?

Given the limited spaces available for doctoral students on campus, faculty will not be assigned carrels in Perkins and Bostock Libraries for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Will the Perk Cafe in the von der Heyden Pavilion be open?

No. The Perk Cafe is closed for the fall semester. 

Are food or drinks allowed in the library?

No. In order to minimize the amount of time face masks would be removed, no food or beverages (other than water bottles) are permitted.

Enter and exit through the Perkins side entrance under the Perkins/Bostock bridge, where you will be greeted and checked in before you proceed downstairs to the Link. Students and instructors are expected to exit the Link and building at the completion of their class or OIT consultation.

Will the Multimedia Project Studio in Bostock Library be open?

Yes, the main work-area in the MPS is open to walk-ins, no appointment is necessary.  Maximum occupancy is dictated by the reduced number of workstations in the lab.  If there are no spaces left, please try to come back another time.  The side rooms (Studio, Soundbooth, VR development rooms) are available by reservation only.  To get to the Multimedia Project Studio, enter and exit through the Perkins side entrance under the Perkins/Bostock bridge, where you will be greeted and checked in before you proceed downstairs. You are expected to exit the building at the completion of your use of the space. For more about the Multimedia Project Studio, or to make an appointment for the side rooms, visit the MPS website.

Will the Rubenstein Library be open to researchers who need to work with rare books, manuscripts, or archives?

Yes, starting September 14, Duke users with a Duke Unique ID (DUID) and a Duke ID card can request an appointment to use the reading room. Due to limited hours and seating in the reading room, Duke users are encouraged to submit a request to have material digitized. Duke graduate and undergraduate students can receive up to 250 pages of reference quality scans for free and should receive their orders within one week.