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COVID-19 Response & Re-Opening

July 22, 2020

The library is open to members. We're so happy to be able to welcome you back! Please call the Membership team at 617-720-7604 to book your visit.
  • COVID-19 protocols for social distancing, hygiene, staffing, cleaning, and disinfecting have been established, in accordance with Massachusetts state guidelines.
  • All people in the building are required to wear masks or face coverings.
  • The number of people in the building is limited to 25% of occupancy. That is the Phase 2 guideline; we're now in the state's Phase 3 but we are proceeding cautiously.
  • We will do our utmost to create a safe environment.
Welcoming Members Back to 10½
To ensure proper social distancing and abide by Massachusetts occupancy rules, members are asked to book appointments in advance by calling the Membership team.
  • Floors 1, 2, and 5 are open for member use.
  • Reservations open every Friday morning for the week ahead starting on Monday. Please call the Membership team at 617-720-7604 to schedule your visit.
  • We will book reservations one week at a time, to monitor the process carefully and make any needed adjustments.
  • You can reserve a full day or just a few hours, depending on what you need.
  • We don't have a system in place for self-service booking; we can only take your reservations by telephone.
  • We will only be allowing members in the building who have an appointment, although you can make a spur-of-the-moment decision to come in and we'll happily welcome you (as long as we have not reached the capacity limits. We have dozens of safely-distanced spots waiting for members).
  • Visitors will not be permitted yet, as we take this step by step.
  • Questions? Visit our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Page
Call us and make plans to come in!


In-person member and visitor activities planned during this time, including lecture and concert programs, class visits, meetings, and discussion groups, are being rescheduled or canceled. We will honor refunds for those who have purchased event tickets.

Please check events listings and our social media feeds regularly for our online book talks, lectures, and other events you can join from home. We are sending our most timely updates via email; all are welcome to join our email list here.

To register and learn more about upcoming events, see the links below.

Special Story Time: Casey at the Bat Tuesday, August 4 11:00 am
Cameo Conversations: An Inside Look at Fiction & Journalism Thursday, August 6 6:00 pm
Educator Workshop: Primary Sources in the Classroom Wednesday, August 26 2:30 pm
Images in the Fight for Women’s Votes Thursday, August 27 6:00 pm
Reader Services

Library staff are in the building! They are responding to emails and voicemails and providing the usual services, including help with electronic resources. They are available during regular open hours. Call (617) 227-0270 x302, email, or make an appointment to come in by calling the Membership line at 671-720-7604.

Discussion groups have decided individually whether to hold virtual meetings. The BA is providing online videoconference access to encourage groups to continue meeting.

All in-person reader services, including book borrowing and returns, are re-opened, with overdue fines waived, and subject to state occupancy and safety guidelines.

Staff and Facilities

All hourly and salaried employees were compensated during the closure, with much of their work continuing remotely. The building’s security and climate maintenance systems and procedures remained in effect at all times. Crews completed a thorough cleaning under the direction of facilities and security staff, and continue to maintain the building every day.

We care foremost about the people of the Athenæum and Boston communities. We will remain vigilant and respond prudently to this unprecedented situation, and look forward to offering you a warm welcome.


Information about the COVID-19 coronavirus and the Massachusetts response