Reopening Plans

Update: The Palo Alto City Library is pleased to announce expanded hours starting Saturday, September 25!  

As we shared previously, the Library has worked to accelerate reopening as we work to secure the necessary staffing to reopen all of our branches. The Downtown and College Terrace branches were partially reopened on August 26, 2021. 

Starting September 25, 2021 the Mitchell Park and Rinconada libraries will be adding more service days and hours.  

  • Mitchell Park will be open 11am to 8pm Tuesdays through Thursdays and 12pm to 6pm Fridays and Saturdays. 
  • Rinconada will be open 10am to 6pm on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and 12pm to 8pm on Thursdays. 

See our current hours for more information.

Please read more about the Library’s Reopening Plans below. 

2020 Pandemic Closure 

The Palo Alto City Library closed to the public on March 13, 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As we reflect on the challenges and impacts of last year, we remain committed to safely delivering library services through the phased reopening and expansions of our locations.

Budget Cuts and Service Reductions

Early on in the pandemic it was clear that the City would have to deal with a $39 million deficit. Of that $39 million deficit citywide, the Library had to cut $1.6 million from its Fiscal Year 2021 budget of $10.3 million. This cut to the budget was achieved by a reduction to staff, collections, and business hours.

FY21 Reductions and Service Impacts Included:

  • Reduction in Collections budget by $150,000 (a 20% reduction)
  • Reduction of six full-time staff positions and 35 part-time staff (30%), resulting in 25% reduction in service days and hours
  • The Mitchell Park and Rinconada libraries are reduced to six days per week of service, with shorter open hours at Rinconada
  • The Children’s, Downtown, and College Terrace libraries are reduced to three days a week of service

Library Reopening

In April 2021, the Library transitioned from virtual and Sidewalk Services to limited in-branch services. The Children’s Library reopened on April 13, followed by the Mitchell Park Library on May 4 and Rinconada Library on May 20.  By June, the Library restored more services like additional seating, public computers and study rooms.

FY 21-22 Reopening Plans

Library staff are excited to safely welcome customers back into our branches and appreciate that the City Council has elected not to make any further cuts for FY 21-22.

However, several retirements and resignations during the FY 20-21 fiscal year have impacted the Library’s ability to fully reopen the College Terrace and Downtown libraries, as well as expand open hours at the Mitchell Park and the Rinconada libraries.

When the City Council adopted the fiscal year budget in June, staff reported that we expect it to take 3-6 months before College Terrace and Downtown libraries can be reopened. However, understanding the community’s desire to open all the libraries, staff are working to secure the necessary staffing and resources to accelerate this reopening.

The reopening of six days at Mitchell Park and Rinconada libraries (one shift 10-6 or 12-9) and three days at the Children’s, College Terrace and Downtown libraries will be completed once all vacant positions are filled. More information about reopening dates will be shared soon.

Since some of the branches will have limited hours of operation, the Library will be purchasing some Library-on-Demand vending machines and lockers for customers to pick up items. The Library will also be installing an automated materials handling machine in the Children’s Library to provide real-time check-in of returned items.

The Palo Alto City Library appreciates and thanks the community for its support and looks forward to continue providing high quality services.