Library updates regarding COVID-19

Last Update: February 24, 2021

The Rensselaer Libraries are dedicated to providing library resources and services to Rensselaer faculty, students and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. In accordance with Rensselaer’s return-to-campus plan and its guiding principles. The following plan provides an overview of our services and resources that we will offer during this time.

As with the return-to-campus plan, the Libraries’ plan will adjust as necessary based on scientific data, and in accordance with guidance from public health and government authorities. Check back frequently for news and updates.

In conformity with Institute protocols the Rensselaer Libraries have implemented requirements to help keep all of our patrons and staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic: 

  • Masks are required in the building at all times including in the individual study rooms. 
  • Use hand sanitizer located throughout the building. 
  • Practice social distancing. Do not move any furniture.
  • All study rooms are single-use only.
  • Clean your study area before and after use. There are cleaning supplies provided on each floor. 
  • Stairs are one-way. Use the central staircase to go upstairs, and the north stairway (in the back of the building) to go downstairs. In the event of an emergency, use the closest stairwell to exit the building.
  • Book shelves are limited to staff-access only. If you need a book, use our Library to Go service to place a hold. 
  • Elevators are restricted to staff members only unless you are physically unable to use the stairs – in which case please contact a staff member for assistance. 

Thank you for your help in keeping the entire Rensselaer community safe! We know this is a challenging time for everyone, and we appreciate your adherence to these guidelines. 

Library visitors are expected to adhere to all return-to-campus plan policies and guidelines. Protecting the health and safety of everyone is our guiding principle. The library space has been reimagined to provide a high-quality experience for learning, along with enacting safety measures for your protection.

All visitors to the Libraries will be required to present their campus ID to be scanned to validate access to the Libraries. Only those with valid IDs who have adhered to their required COVID-19 testing schedules will be allowed physical access to Library spaces. If you are denied physical access to the Libraries, you should do the following:

  • For students who are not allowed entry, you should contact your class dean.

  • For staff who are not allowed entry, you should contact Larry Hardy in Human Resources

  • For faculty who are not allowed entry, you should contact the Office of the Provost.

While in the Libraries, you must:

  • Wear a face covering or mask that covers both nose and mouth at all times (from CDC: How to Safely Wear and Take Off a Face Covering);
  • Follow social distancing practices by staying at least six feet apart from other people at all times;
  • Obey all signage, including floor decals for distancing and elevator capacity; and

Practice personal hygiene (i.e., washing hands frequently).

Faculty, students and staff are reminded to use sanitizer to sanitize their hands as well as surfaces within the library such as tables and chairs. Hand sanitizer machines are also available at the entrance of the library, near stairwells, and throughout the library.

Plexi-glass barriers have been installed at all service points and directional signage will assist with traffic flow to minimize person-to-person contact.

Library staff will wear a face covering or mask at service desks and public spaces.

If you are a person with a disability and need an accommodation, contact the office of Disability Services for Students (DSS).

No food is allowed in the library; only drinks in covered containers are allowed until further notice. This helps ensure that visitors adhere to wearing a face covering or mask.

Per the return-to-campus plan, non-RPI affiliated visitors are prohibited from accessing campus to enter buildings and meet with or interact with students, faculty and staff. Instead, we will encourage individuals to arrange virtual visits whenever possible.

To learn more about University employee and community safety, visit the return-to-campus plan.


The Architecture Library is accessible only by reservation. Please use the School of Architecture's Room Reservation system to reserve study time at the Architecture Library.

Current Hours

Different types of study spaces are available throughout the Libraries. To facilitate social distancing, the Libraries reduced the overall number of seats available to maintain six feet distance between people. Do not move the furniture for the safety of you and those around you.

Due to social distancing guidelines, group study rooms will be limited to one person per room. Larger meeting spaces like the Fischbach Room, Krause Lounge, Conference Room, and Beta Classroom, are all unavailable until further notice.


The Libraries have an extensive online and print collection to support teaching, learning and research. Our Quick Search is a single-search box that provides a dynamic "one-stop" discovery and delivery service to the Libraries’ online and print collections.

Our diverse online collections include a vast array of e-books, databases, online journals, audiovisual and other resources which are available on and off campus. Visit our library guides to learn about resources by topic. We will continue to build upon our extensive ebook collection – see our books, media, & more information.

While the Library's collection is available, all of the stacks and shelving are closed to anyone who is not library staff. In addition, you will not be able to walk up to the service desk to check out material. To obtain any physical material from our unique physical collection, please request it to be checked-out via “Library to Go” during our open hours. This service allows for Rensselaer faculty, students and staff to request materials to be paged and placed on contactless self-serve hold location. For information about borrowing privileges, visit use the libraries.

Materials can also be requested via Interlibrary Loan.

The Libraries will not be accepting any gifts of books until further notice.

The Institute Archives and Special Collections research room will be closed to all researchers until further notice.

Please email with any questions you have.

Archivists will respond to reference queries.

Reader Services

Course Reservesare course materials that instructors have asked the Libraries to make easily accessible to students. Electronic course reserves will be available by logging directly onto Library Course Reserves or your course in Blackboard. Physical reserves will be available at Folsom Library Service desk. Books will be sanitized between uses.

Instructors should submit requests online via the Library Course Reserves tool at 

Interlibrary Loan services expand the range of research materials available for instruction and scholarship. Materials which are not owned by the Libraries may be obtained from other libraries through Interlibrary loan. You can request print and electronic materials via ourInterlibrary Loan service using your ILLIAD account.

For those teaching or learning online, our Document Delivery service provides an electronic copy of book chapters or articles from our print journal collection via your ILLiad account. 

Librarians are available to assist you via our online Ask Us 24/7 chat. Librarians can answer your questions about library services and resources.

Research and Instructional Services

Librarians provide research assistance virtually via chat, text or email - visit Ask Us 24/7. The services are available at all hours.

Due to social distancing requirements, library workshops will be provided entirely online via WebEx.

Librarians are available for personal research consultations regarding specialized resources, specific assignments or other research needs. Consultations will be conducted virtually via WebEx.

Our online library guides provide suggested resources and advice that will help you navigate the Libraries' print and electronic collections. We also offer online subject guides for resources by discipline.

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