The Library's Evolving Response to COVID-19

Updated 4/30/2020

From day one of the Stay-at-Home Order from Illinois Governor Pritzker, Lake Forest Library staff have been discussing when and how to offer in-person services and access to physical library materials again. Our top priority is the health and safety of our staff and the residents of Lake Forest.

There are many factors to consider before reopening the Library collections to the public. The Library circulates on average 20,000+ physical items throughout the Lake Forest community each month. Unlike restaurants and retail stores which provide a one-way flow of items to the consumer, the Library's materials circulate—out to homes, back to the Library, and out again—which necessitates caution about how library materials are handled and shared.

 A small number of area libraries were equipped with drive-up windows and curbside systems prior to COVID-19. The staff at these libraries are evaluating the risks and deciding on a case-by-case basis how to reopen those services and begin providing library materials to their communities. Lake Forest Library staff likewise are working to develop a curbside delivery plan that can be operated with minimal contact between library staff and pedestrians or motorists. However, as much as we want to begin providing access to physical library materials again, there continue to be unknowns about the viability of COVID-19 on surfaces that must be resolved first.

The overriding factor for the restoration of services is the risk to library staff and Lake Forest residents. Library staff need to know that we have the systems, equipment, and PPE supplies in place to reduce the risks to everyone handling and receiving library materials, which includes the public. We are currently awaiting the results of a national research project being conducted by an independent lab regarding the length of time COVID-19 remains active on various library materials. In addition, we are following guidance from the American Library Association, Centers for Disease Control, and other local organizations, as well as direction from Governor Pritzker and state and federal health officials as we develop our plans.

Thank you so much for your patience and understanding as we work toward managing and reducing the risks in order to safely circulate items again. In the meantime, please continue to use the wealth of digital resources available through the library website at We have been gratified to see the circulation of items including eBooks and streaming movies up as much as 60% in some cases. Using these digital resources until we can offer you physical materials is just one way to continue to engage with the Library while staying safe at home.

Please note that while the physical library building is closed, we are very much open. Check out our website at for reference help, readers' advisory, and tech assistance as well as over 60 research, language, and creative databases and book and movie streaming services. We are here to help you. Stay safe and be well.

Updated 4/6/2020

In response to the extension of the Illinois Governor's stay-at-home order through April 30, the Lake Forest Library building continues to be closed until further notice.

We redesigned our home page to feature all the services and resources that are still available while the building is closed. We also encourage you to follow us on social media for:

  • live storytimes and teen and adult mini programs
  • info on free online resources
  • ideas to help you cope, learn, and work while staying at home
  • and other timely and relevant topics.





Updated 3/24/2020

In response to the Illinois Governor's stay-at-home order which went into effect March 21–April 7, the Lake Forest Library building is now temporarily closed until further notice.

The DVD2GO machine was taken offline Friday, March 20, 2020. Due dates on discs currently checked out will be extended. No returns are being accepted at this time.

The Library continues to provide support for Library eResource use or general reference questions. Patrons can contact our librarians via the contact form on this website, by emailing, or leaving a voicemail at 847.810.4610.

Updated 3/13/2020

Lake Forest Library is canceling all programs and temporarily closing the building to public access starting at 5:00 pm on Saturday, March 14, and will offer restricted services Monday–Saturday, March 16–31 in support of COVID-19 prevention efforts. This decision follows our ongoing conversations with the City of Lake Forest, local health officials, and the announcement that Lake Forest schools will be closed through April 3.

These safety measures are being taken out of concern for the health and safety for our community, not due to any known exposure. All Library users registered for canceled programs are being notified. The Library will extend due dates on all currently checked out materials until April 1. Patrons do not need to return anything while the building is closed.

As of today, we plan to reopen on Wednesday, April 1. We will continue to monitor the situation and reassess as more information becomes available.

Closing the Library is an extraordinarily difficult decision that we have made only because of these extraordinary circumstances. The health and safety of our patrons and staff is our first priority. According to the CDC, early actions to increase social distancing—isolating people and canceling gatherings—are the best way to contain the spread of COVID-19 and help "flatten the curve" of new COVID-19 cases to keep the healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed. We feel that closing the Library is the best way to protect the health of our community at this time. While we are closed, we will carry out extra cleaning and disinfecting of the building.

"We understand that the Library is a valuable resource at all times, but especially in times of uncertainty," said Library Director Catherine Lemmer. "We are committed to being available in all ways possible that do not conflict with the safety of our staff or Library users."

In an effort to support the practice of social distancing, we encourage Library users to:

  • Access the Library's Download and Streaming services and Online Learning resources, which are available 24/7. Library cardholders can access Hoopla, Kanopy,,, Creativebug, the Great Courses, and so much more at
  • Place holds on items and call the Library at 847-234-0636 to pick up your holds at the back dock. This new, temporary service will be available starting Monday, March 16. Through the end of the month, holds can be picked up Monday–Friday, 10:00 am–6:00 pm, and Saturday, 10:00 am–5:00 pm. Hold pickups will not be available on Sundays.
  • Use the DVD2GO machine at the West Train Station, which is available when the train station is open.
  • If it is appropriate and necessary for your situation, request Homebound Delivery service at
  • Call or email the Library to ask our professional staff for factual information about COVID-19 or any other topic, as usual. Stay connected with the Library on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more ideas for things to do with your library card, and ways to stay healthy and happy during this complicated time.

The Library will promptly update the public of any further changes to services.