Informational Alert | Coronavirus Updates
NOTICE: Contactless holds pickup is suspended effective Jan. 2, 2021. The Library's virtual programs and services and digital collections continue to be available. For assistance, call 617‑349‑4040 or email

Contactless Holds Pickup

Service AlertContactless holds pickup is suspended until at least February 1.


How It Works

1. Place your holds

Request your items via our online catalog or by calling 617-349-4040. Due to high demand, holds may take longer than usual to be filled. 

2. Wait for your pickup notice

When your hold is ready for pickup, you'll receive an email notice with the subject "Library Request Pickup Notice." 

3. Pick up your holds

Please arrive during our modified service hours. You must wear a face covering and maintain at least six feet of distance between yourself, Library staff and other patrons. Please be prepared to show your library card or photo identification and to wait in line outside the library at popular times.


Frequently Asked Questions

What measures are you taking to protect the health and safety of patrons and staff?

Library staff members are following best hygiene practices recommended by public health authorities, including frequent handwashing. Returned library items are being quarantined for 3 days before being checked in.

Please do not attempt to clean or sanitize books or other library materials. While there is likely low risk of spread from library materials, we encourage you to wash or sanitize your hands after enjoying your library materials.

What can I expect when I arrive for my pickup?

The pickup will take place outside the library's front doors in mild weather. In cold and inclement weather, the pickup may take place in the vestibule or lobby. Please provide your library card and be prepared to wait for a few minutes while your items are being checked out. Please limit your group size if possible and note that pets are not permitted in city buildings, including vestibules and lobbies.

For lobby/vestibule pickup: Per City requirements, visitors to City buildings must provide contact information (name, phone/email) in case contact tracing is necessary due to a COVID-19 exposure.

How can I return my borrowed library items?

While contactless holds pickup is suspended, we encourage you to keep your borrowed items.

If you must return items, the Main Library outside book drop is open 24/7. Library returns will not be accepted at branches during this time. Takeout technology and oversize returns also cannot be accepted during this time. You are welcome to return branch checkouts to the Main Library or any other Minuteman Library Network library that is accepting returns.

Please allow one week for your returned items to be removed from your library account. We are receiving a high volume of returns, and we are also implementing a quarantine period for all returned materials for the safety of patrons and staff. Please be assured that no fines will accrue due to our extended processing times.

I don’t know exactly what I want. Can you select some titles for me to pick up?

Yes! We are always happy to recommend books to our patrons. Call 617-349-4040 during our phone hours to speak with a staff member who can help you. You can also fill out a form to find Your Next Great Read on our website at any time.

Can I pick up holds for a friend or family member?

Yes, if you have their permission. You will need to show the other patron’s library card in order to pick up their holds. 

I have pending holds that are supposed to be sent to a Cambridge Public Library branch. How can I get them if my local branch is not offering pickup service?

Please change your pickup location to the Main Library, Central Square Branch, O'Neill Branch or Valente Branch in your online account if you would like to get these through contactless pickup. If you are only interested in pickup at a closed branch, we recommend that you freeze your holds in your online account until your branch reopens or begins offering pickup service. Holds sent to a closed branch may be canceled to respect our sharing agreements with owning libraries.