Last updated: August 4, 2021

Due to COVID-19 and safety considerations, we have made some changes. You may be wondering what this looks like. Please find answers to some of your questions, below. If you have additional questions, Ask Us!

Your Macalester library continues to provide a great breadth of collections and materials, stellar services to help you with your research and questions, and a variety of library spaces for academic work.

Library Spaces

What are the library building hours?

The library is open with ID card access for current students, staff, and faculty.

Summer hours – July 10th-August 22nd:

  • Monday-Thursday: 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Friday: 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Saturday-Sunday: closed

What is different in the library building?

The library building has gone through some changes to help us all all stay healthy through social distancing and personal hygiene. Here are some of the changes you may notice when the building re-opens:

  • the library entrance doors are unlocked, but everyone must scan in at the service desk with a Macalester ID, after entering (even if attending classes in the building).
  • furniture is spaced for reduced seating capacity, some furniture has been removed
  • students will be studying following our Mac Stays Safer, Shared Community Commitment
  • some areas, including shelving locations (stacks) that hold the libraries collections, will be closed off and clearly marked (use Contact-less Pickup)
  • the service desk will not be checking out any items–this includes equipment checkout and reserve items such as textbooks, which are not available this year
  • all public computers have been removed
  • cleaning stations will be located throughout the library; this is in addition to all of the health reminders and cleaning protocols put in place, campus-wide
  • Idea Lab materials have been temporarily packed up, but look for information about resources and @ home workshops on the Idea Lab Homepage

Are food and drink allowed in the library?

Drinks are fine. Just use the lift and sip method to keep your face covering in place as much as possible. You may use room 309 for a quick bite to eat. Please feel free to remove your mask, briefly eat, remask, and then leave the room to make space for the next person.

I am living near campus, can I get a locker in the library?

Off-campus students can sign up for one of 52 lockers in the Link (between the DeWitt Wallace Library and Old Main). Questions:

Library Services

Do you have questions about library reserves, textbooks, tech equipment and laptops, how to check out books, or how to get resources remotely? See Library Collections and Materials Section

Are librarians available to help students with research assignments/projects and to provide library course sessions and workshops?

Students: sign up for a Virtual Research Consultation for help with remote library research, organization, and citations. For students not able to access  Google Apps, email
Faculty: Use
Ask Us! to contact us with your library and information literacy needs and ideas for your course.

What if I just have a quick question?

Send us your question by chat or the Ask Us form. You may also find an answer to your question on the Virtual Service Desk page.

Does the library have reserve items to check out this year, such as textbooks?

The library will not be offering a physical reserves collection (print books, DVDs, CDs) this academic year due to the need to quarantine all returned items for several days, following national protocols. This includes the MCSG print textbook reserve program.

Why will Interlibrary loan requests for books take longer than before?

Requests for interlibrary loan physical resources (e.g. print books, DVDs) will be slowed this academic year, sometimes considerably, due to factors such as contactless services, and interlibrary loan limitations across the country. Please keep this consideration in mind as you plan your work for a shortened, 7-week module time frame.

In general, turn-around times may vary. Interlibrary loan requests for book chapters may be slower to arrive than in the past, but are often a quicker option than print book requests. Journal articles (the most requested items) continue to be received electronically–and more quickly.

Am I able to print in the library?

Yes, there is a multifunctional printer/scanner in the library and additional printers across campus. Set up uniFLOW, ahead of time.

What about alums and neighbors with DeWitt Wallace Library cards?

We will extend privileges for a year to neighbor/alum card bearers, after we fully open campus.

Library Collections and Materials

What if the online version of a book does not meet my needs?

If the online version of an ETAS title does not meet your needs, there are some alternate options.

  • If you need access to a print version of the complete book and you are on or near campus, please submit an interlibrary loan Book/DVD/CD request. In the Notes field of the request form please indicate that you need access to a print version of the title.
  • If you need access to a small portion of the book (e.g. 1-2 chapters), please submit an interlibrary loan article/chapter request. In the Notes field of the request form please indicate that you need to be able to print the chapters. Due to copyright law, library staff can scan several pages or a few chapters, but not significant portions of a book. Please do not submit multiple requests for chapter scans from the same book.

Need additional help? Please Ask Us.

Can I check out laptops and dongles?

Equipment and tech items have moved to the Digital Resource Center; check equipment availability online with TechCheckout. There will be no laptop checkout on campus this year. Students who do not have access to a laptop that meets their academic needs, or have sudden issues with their existing laptop, should reach out to financial aid via the Emergency Aid Program (EAP) or the ITS Help Desk.

Does the library have reserve items to check out this year, such as textbooks?

The library will not be offering a physical reserves collection (print books, DVDs, CDs) during the 2020-21 academic year due to the need to quarantine all return items for several days. The MCSG print textbook reserve program will return in 2021-2022.

How do I check out a print book? 

All current Macalester students, staff, and faculty can request contactless pickup of items from the library collections and for interlibrary loan requests. Please look for an email that states that your request is ready before picking up. 

Contactless Pickup is available within the library, level one, during regular hours, and via card swipe. See more instructions on creating a request for our library items through WorldCat Discovery, for creating interlibrary loan requests, and about contactless pickup on the Connect to Library Resources page.

Note: Access to library physical resources (e.g. print books, DVDs) will be slowed this academic year, sometimes considerably, due to factors such as contactless services. We encourage all in the Mac Community to keep this in mind, as you plan your courses and work–especially in a shortened 7-week module time frame.

What if I am nowhere near campus, how do I get library materials?

First, search for electronic format books, journal articles, streaming video, and a whole lot more in WorldCat Discovery, and check the library Research Guides to help you target your search. As in the past, you can request journal articles and chapters from books through Interlibrary Loan for electronic delivery. Also, for students that are not on or near campus, we can scan a portion or chapter of books that are in the library for electronic delivery. Submit an “interlibrary loan request” for these, too.

If you can’t find resources to support your research assignment/project, are looking at library materials that you can’t access in electronic format, or just have questions–use the Ask Us form. We will help you find electronic access to relevant research on your topic. Or schedule a Research Consultation for one to one help from a librarian.

Will the archives be open for research and teaching?

Yes! After the campus quiet period, the College Archives and Rare Books will be open, by appointment. See Archives: COVID FAQ for contact information–also information about accessing or teaching with archives materials or rare books.

Should I return books checked out from last year?

Yes, please! The only spot for returns this year is the book drop on the outside of the library. All library materials can be returned at the outside book drop, including interlibrary loan (extra karma points if you include the paperwork that came with the interlibrary loan item), DVDs, etc.

How many ebooks do we have access to through the library?

In searching WorldCat Discovery, you will come across more than 450,000 (and growing) ebook titles that you  can access through the library. You will also discover electronic or streaming versions of journal articles, videos, audio recordings, and art collections to name a few.

For additional resources check out the library Research Guides by subject area and Troubleshooting Access Issues guide. If you would like any help streamlining your searches, or if you have questions, don’t hesitate to Ask Us!

What do I do if I can’t get a hold of a book for my research assignment or project?

The answer to this will depend on what we are able to access and where you are physically located. Please send us your request via Ask Us or  schedule a consultation with a Research & Instruction Librarian. (Faculty/staff: Request a Purchase information)

Why can’t I just browse the library shelves and pick out a book to check out?

The short and over-simplified answer is that we have agreed to close off our shelves in order to have electronic access to almost half of our print collection from the HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service.

The HathiTrust emergency e-book access described below will end on July 14, 2021. This will impact you if you rely on the HathiTrust copy of a an in-copyright book.

Starting July 15, you will have:

  • continued access to HathiTrust digitized materials in the public domain
  • no access to in-copyright materials via HathiTrust
  • the ability to browse and check out any circulating item from our collection (including items that were temporarily available only through HathiTrust digital access)

Look for the Browse the Shelf  button in WorldCat Discovery to browse the library’s titles virtually; you will find this option on the page with detailed information for each physical book/DVD held in the library.

This is the long answer:

Macalester HathiTrust membership and relationship to print book access:

The library became members of HathiTrust in 2018, which allows us to take advantage of their ETAS (Emergency Temporary Access Service) during the pandemic, as long as we adhere to their legal guidelines. This collection offers extensive ebook access to the Mac community, including nearly half of our local print collection. ETAS also impacts how we provide access to library print collections:

What is HathiTrust? 

    • HathiTrust is a partnership of academic and research institutions, offering a collection of ~ 6.5+ million public domain ebook titles, digitized from libraries around the world. 

What is HathiTrust ETAS?

    • ETAS provides additional immediate online access to copyrighted titles–almost half of our library’s print circulating collection, including recent publications. This provides extensive access to our collection regardless of one’s location or ability to come to the library.

How does it work?

    • ETAS is allowed because it adheres to the same model as library purchased print titles: access to one copy to one person at a time. The ETAS copy is a surrogate for our print copy so we have to agree to not offer any form of access to the print titles we own that reside in HathiTrust.
    • All titles can be discovered through WorldCat Discovery searches. If the “View eBook” button takes you to a HathiTrust page for the item, log into HathiTrust with your Macalester credentials using the instructions on our Electronic Resources Guide: Ebooks.
    • Copyrighted ETAS titles are provided via login, within a web browser (no downloads), one person at a time, for 60 minute periods. If you are still actively looking at the book and no one else is attempting to check it out, the book will be renewed automatically. To read an ebook that is being used by someone else, you will need to check back periodically.
    • Scanning of chapters from the print copy of an ETAS title by library staff is allowed to fulfill document delivery, course needs (e.g. Moodle), or interlibrary loan requests. Students that are not on or near campus may request chapters from titles under ETAS restrictions (or any item in print in the library) by submitting an interlibrary loan article/chapter request book chapter request.

What impact does ETAS have on the ability to browse and check out print titles?

    • ETAS books cannot be browsed or circulated due to legal agreements. Because ETAS books are intermingled with non-ETAS books, physical browsing of our stacks is not allowed.
    • “Shelf browsing” can be done virtually in WorldCat Discovery. 
    • Non-ETAS print titles can be requested ahead of time through WorldCat Discovery for contactless pickup.
    • Interlibrary Loan requests of print ETAS titles from other libraries are allowed.

Why does HathiTrust require these restrictions?

    • ETAS can be requested by member libraries and is allowed for those experiencing “unexpected or involuntary disruption to normal operations, requiring it to be closed to the public, or otherwise restrict collection access services, so that users cannot gain access to items in the collection as they ordinarily would.” Once we are able to provide regular access to all of the Macalester community, we will no longer qualify for the emergency, online access. ETAS terms of service