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UPDATES on our returns and holds pickup services 


Great news!


We are pleased to announce the opening dates for our returns and holds pickup service at the two following branches, as well as an increase to the temporary limit on holds. 


Rosemount Temporary Location will be offering a curbside returns and holds pickup service starting Monday, July 27.  

  • Appointments are required for holds pickup. 
  • Library items can be returned during hours of operation. No appointment is required. 
  • Hours of operation will be: 
    • Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. 
    • Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. – 8 p.m. 
    • Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. 
    • Sundays: closed 


Metcalfe branch will offer a contactless returns and holds pickup service, starting Saturday, August 15.  

  • Appointments will be required to pick up holds. 
  • Library items can be returned during hours of operation. No appointment is required. 
  • Hours of operation will be: 
    • Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. 


For information about returns and holds pickup service at other branches, please see this page.




Starting Monday, July 13, we are increasing the temporary limit on holds to 50 items per customer for physical items. This temporary limit allows staff to manage volume and to get materials out to customers faster.  

Holds ready for pick up will remain on the shelves for 14 days to allow customers ample time to book an appointment and pick up their holds.  


Health and Safety


Effective July 15, 2020, masks are required to be worn inside Ottawa Public Library branches, as per the Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law.


All branches offering physical services are incorporating physical distancing requirements, quarantining library returns, and implementing enhanced sanitary controls and new protocols for employees and customers.


I would like to borrow a paper copy of The Last Leonardo: The Secret Lives of the World's Most Expensive Painting by Ben Lewis, which is not "available" at my "home" branch (Main). But on the OPL web site there are presently five paper copies of The Last Leonardo available at different branches around the city, that are"closed" for hold and check out purposes. I presume books are still being transported by the OPL vans from one branch to another for circulation purposes and "hold" services. I wanted to put a "hold" on the Leonardo book, but the OPL computer system would not let me do so. Can you help me? I need the book within the next two weeks (approx. July 26) for an upcoming book club meeting.

Hello Anne,

You should be able to place a hold on any book in the collection, keeping in mind that it will take longer to fill a hold if the book is on the shelf of a closed branch. It may be that when you had already reached to temporary limit on holds when you tried to place the hold on the book. The temporary hold limit has increased on Monday to 50 physical items per customer, so you could try placing the hold again, or if you encounter the same issue, please call Infoservice at 613-580-2940. Have a good day!

It does not work. It is impossible to select the time slot.

Hello Cheeli,
You need to be logged in to be able to book an appointment to pick up your available holds. And your holds need to be available for pickup, or the system will not allow you to book a pickup appointment. If you log into your account and go to this page:, you will see a notice at the top at the page to say if you have holds available for pickup or not. You must be logged into your account first.
Also, you can return Library items to any of the branches offering the contactless service during their hours of operation. Appointments are not required to return Library items.
Have a good day.

I want a time and place to return my books! Your system is impossible. I'm in a north gower. I'll leave them on the library doorstep if I don't get an answer soon

Hello Raven,

The branches closest to you that offer the contactless returns and holds pickup services are Stittsville and Greely. You can return your books anytime during their opening hours. You do not need an appointment to drop off your books, though it needs to be during the hours of operation. You can find their hours of operation on the Hours and Locations page:
And for details about the contactless returns and holds pickup service:
Have a good day!

Hello everyone - when will the next batch of holds be released? Not complaining, I know that you are short staff and also stressed like everyone during this time, just wondering. Mine have been sitting for a while now.

Hi Mary,
Holds are processed every day at branches that are open (for contactless service). It may be that the items you placed on hold are sitting on the shelves of the branches that are still closed, in which case it will take longer to fill the hold. Hope this answer is useful to you. Have a good day.

Returned my books by at least 4 days prior to their due date but am now seeing that they are past the return due date and am being charged late fees. I thought I read somewhere that the books were too be held 2 days for decontamination (understandable & commendable) but I did not know I should have renewed them prior to returning them by the due date to prevent the late fees. Is this correct or was I charged the late fee in error?

Hello Red Fox,

No late fees are being charged at this time, so if fees have been charged for that current item you returned, that is a mistake. Yes, books that are returned are quarantined for 72 hours, then it takes a few days to get processed, so the returned items may remain on your account for up to a week after you return them. However, no late fees should have incurred for those current items. Please give Infoservice a call at 613-580-2940.

Hello Red Fox,

No late fees are being charged at this time, so if fees have been charged for that current item you returned, that is a mistake. Yes, books that are returned are quarantined for 72 hours, then it takes a few days to get processed, so the returned items may remain on your account for up to a week after you return them. However, no late fees should have incurred for those current items. Please give Infoservice a call at 613-580-2940.

I have 10 items "in transit" to a branch that is currently closed. I also have a book to pick up at SL
that I had requested during this covid time. As my EA branch will not be opening until the 26th July,
can I request to pick up some of the items at SL which is now open?
Thank you.

Hello. The pickup location for "in transit" items cannot be changed, so those items will become available after your home branch reopens. If you have any items that are not yet ready or in transit, you can change the pickup location for those items to St. Laurent if you wish. Thank you.

Why has the dvd “1917”, part of Express not been sent out to branches yet? There are over 130 people waiting to see it...

Hello. We are working hard to process new material and get these items to customers as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience.

I received 3 emails -- on 3 different days -- notifying me that different items were ready for pick-up at Main branch. But when I arrived at my pick-up appointment at Main branch this weekend, none were ready. How will I know when they actually are ready? (I ask because we can’t just drop in -- and with only one appointment allowed per week, I don’t want to waste one if there’s nothing to pick up.)

Hello. We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused. We are following up with our Technology Services department to see if we are experiencing any technical issues. In the meantime, please contact InfoService at 613-580-2940. They can confirm your available holds and pickup location, and they can help you book an appointment without the one week waiting period. Thank you.

The 50 item limit on holds is way too high! In fact even 20 is high, and 10 would be more reasonable. Some clients are and will be putting holds irresponsibly, only to find they do not want to watch the item or do not have the time to read it. I have a hold on a book which is the first part of a trilogy and of which there is only one copy. It is checked out and due mid-september! Surely that is too long a time to read a single book, but if the client had checked out 20 items it is another matter. Right now the only items that can be checked out within a reasonable time are the ones that are already on the shelves. Even low-demand items, as in my example, are hard to get, and having 50 items in people's homes instead of shelves will make it worse.

Thank you for your feedback. We are responding to the levels of demands in different ways, including buying extra copies of items with longer waitlists. The due dates for items that were checked out before the closure in March have been extended until September to give people ample time to return those items, but the loan period for items currently being checked out is 4 weeks. Thank you.

Thank you for your reply, but the main point is still unanswered. Why allow up to 50 items to sit in a client's home at a time when they could be read/viewed by other patrons at the same time? If we put a hold on the checked out item we might get it within four weeks, but why wait so long if the original client does not actually read/view it in the meantime, overwhelmed by 49 more? The OC Transpo is running, the return bins are there - it is not so difficult to return up to 10/20 items at a time. Also note: some of the older books have one copy only, waiting lists of several patrons - no chance of buying more of out of print books. And it might be sitting in a home, one of 50 checked out. Thank you.

The current hold limit is 50 items, but this does not necessarily mean that these 50 items will be checked out to a customer at the same time. Many customers pause their holds or are not first in line for items on hold, so they are not checking out 50 items at one time. The temporary holds limit of 50 items is to balance getting items out to customers more quickly while still providing fair and equitable access. Thank you.

However the length of time a dvd is allowed to be borrowed for, is far too long. Think about the way that private companies used to rent DVDs -- 1 to 3 days used to be the norm. No reason why people need to keep DVDs for weeks -- especially at a time when most people are at home anyway.

Thank you for your comment. The loan periods for all items has been set at 4 weeks in order to give people ample time to return their items. Not all customers are able to travel regularly to an open branch, so the loan periods are designed to keep items flowing to customers while addressing the challenges of the current situation and giving people enough time to enjoy the item and return it.

First of all, OPL is doing a terrific job of managing the complex logistics during these difficult times.

However, I think the holds/checkouts could be improved

I don't see any problem with allowing unlimited holds. I have 100 items on hold, but they are all paused (by me) and I'm releasing them gradually. Many of them were put on hold over the past 2 years, and they have been gradually moving up in the list. In many cases, I am way down the list on a few copies (e.g. #200 on 4 holds). That hold will not stress the limited resources of staff at all. It will just gradually climb up the list over the next few months. Unlimited holds doesn't mean unlimited work for staff, if items remain on the list paused or moving slowly up the list.

Right now, when I see something interesting, I can not even put a hold on it because I have more than 20 (50 now I think) holds already. But those holds are all paused, some aren't available because they are sitting on a shelf at a closed branch, or because I'm still way down the hold list. I'd like to request a book, but the limit on holds won't let me, even if the book won't be available for several months or a year. In some cases, a book is mentioned in the news and everyone wants it. Those with few holds can put a hold on it, and get on the list. I can't even do that. If there are 50 people on the list now, by the time I'm allowed to put a hold on it, there will be 500 people on the list and I will have to wait 2 years to get the book. Allowing me to put a hold on it, will not create any more work for staff, but will shorten my wait from 2 years to "only" a few months. So preventing holds if you already have 20/50 holds will not increase workload. But limiting the no. of items will help a lot (see next paragraph).

However, I think checkouts could and should be limited to 10 items - any combination of books, DVDs, CDs. The no. of items being checked out and returned is what contributes to the work load of staff. That can be throttled by lowering the no. of items that can be checked out. That's not 10 items each time you visit. It's 10 items at any given time. If you already have 8 items checked out, you can only take out 2 more until you bring some back.

Currently everything can be checked out for 4 weeks. That's way too long to watch a DVD or listen to a CD, so reduce the actual checkout time to 2 weeks. It makes sense, but it may increase the staff workload. Instead of 10,000 items coming back every 4 weeks, it could be 10,000 items coming back every 2 weeks. However, as I said above, what really makes the difference is the NUMBER of items checked out and that's why it should be limited to 10 items.

Thank you for your feedback. As everyone manages their holds differently (some pause their holds while others do not), the hold limit assists in managing the volume of requests and allows materials to get out to customers in a timely and efficient manner. We do not have a limit on items that can be checked out as not all customers are able to regularly travel to open branches. We are working to keep items flowing as quickly as possible, while still offering fair and equitable service to our customers. We appreciate the time you took to comment, and thank you for the kudos on how we are managing the logistics in these complex times.