Services Frequently Asked Questions

September 10, 2021

Are branches open and what services are available?

All but one branch (due to its small size, the Union Bay will remain at Takeout only) are now offering:

  • Access to all physical collections
  • Access to holds pick up and self checkout
  • Assistance from staff in the branch for information needs and in-person checkout
  • Access to computers, printing, and photocopying services
  • Washroom access
  • Access to external book returns
  • Ongoing take out services for those who prefer it
  •  Limited in-person programming with safety protocols and procedures
  • Meeting and study room access with occupancy limits
  • Increased branch area access, seating, and occupancy
  • Increased computer station use with adequate distancing

*Access varies from branch to branch depending on space and capacity. Contact your branch for more information.

Can we print our BC Vaccine Card at the library?

Yes! In fact, we are waiving printing fees for anyone who needs to print off their BC Vaccine Card. Just visit your local branch.

To get your vaccine card visit:


Do I need proof of vaccination to visit the library?

The Provincial Health Officer announced that beginning September 13, proof of vaccination is required in BC for people attending certain social and recreational settings and events. However, proof of vaccination is NOT required for BC Public Libraries and customers accessing library services, including in-branch programs and events. More information about proof of vaccination cards can be found on the province’s website here.

What are the mask requirements?

Following the Provincial Medical Health Officer orders, masks are required for anyone five years of age or older when visiting the library. This is in addition to physical distancing, occupancy limits, and other safety measures.

A properly worn mask covers your nose and mouth at all times. Masks are available. Speak to a member of staff.

Please note, that children under five and people who are unable to don and doff a mask are exempted from this requirement.

Are branches open?

The hours of operation vary from branch-to-branch.

Find out what’s happening at your branch, or call 1.877.415.8475 or email if you have any questions.

Are you offering in-branch programs?

Some of our branches are offering in-branch programming to small groups where space permits.

Visit our Events Calendar to find out what’s happening in your community or contact your local branch .

Is the Takeout service still available?

Yes, Takeout service is still available for those who would prefer it.

Visit your branch page to find out what’s happening in your community, including branch hours.

How does the Takeout service work?

Head to the online catalogue and place holds.

You will receive an automated email or a phone call letting you know that your holds are ready.

Please visit your branch page for the hours of operation and details about how to collect your materials.

Customers now have access to all items at all our branches. VIRL’s delivery trucks are once again transporting books, DVDs, magazines and other materials to branches across Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii, and the Central Coast.

How are you keeping customers and staff safe?

Access your branch and browse the collection in an environment that’s safe, controlled, and sanitized.

  • All branches have undergone inspections and Risk Assessments
  • Staff have been trained and have a thorough knowledge of VIRL’s Exposure Control Plan
  • Ensuring physical distancing for staff and customers
  • PPE is available for all staff while at work
  • Proper signage is in place to ensure that customers maintain a safe physical distance and follow all procedures when collecting their items
  • All surfaces are thoroughly disinfected after each interaction
  • Occupancy limits
  • Clear signage and messaging that all customers are expected to follow
  • Providing equitable access to customers with different COVID-19 infection risk factors

Is there a way I can contact VIRL if I have general questions about library services, resources, recommendations, and those sorts of things?

Yes, there is!

We have staff ready to assist you with all your reference questions, information needs, book recommendations, tech help, and more.

Just call 1.877.415.8475 or email at the hours to talk to one of our staff:

  • Monday: 10am – 5pm
  • Tuesday – Thursday: 10am – 6pm
  • Friday – Saturday: 10 am – 5pm

How do I search or browse items online?

Here’s how to search for a specific title or keyword:

  1. Go to our catalogue at
  2. Search for your title or keyword (i.e. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone)
  3. Place a hold or request on the item.
  4. Select which branch you would like to pickup the item for Takeout Service.

Here’s how to browse all the titles currently available at a branch:

    1. Head to
    2. Click “Advance Search”
    3. Type an asterisk (*) in the search area
    4. Select your branch
    5. Click “Search”

*Please note that using a broad search can slow search results.

How will I be notified when my holds are ready?

You will receive an automated email or a phone call letting you know that your holds are ready.

Please visit your branch page for the hours of operation and details about how to collect your materials.

Is Books by Mail Service available?

Yes! Visit the Books by Mail page for full details.

How many holds can I place?

The current maximum of 50 holds is in place to ensure an equity of access to our resources. We are looking at this internally and if we believe it can be done in a matter that benefits our customers, we will increase the number of holds available.

Do I have to return my items to the same branch I checked them out from?

We recommend that you return your materials to the same branch you checked them out from.

Can I order items from other branches?

Yes! You can access the entire collection of physical materials at Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL).

Are Interlibrary Loans?

Yes, Interlibrary loan service is available.

Interlibrary loan requests may take 3 to 6 months or longer to be filled.   Longer than usual wait times are due to COVID-19 related disruptions in service at BC and Canadian library systems that fill our requests.

How long can I borrow for?

Review our Borrowing Tips page for more information.

Please note that during Takeout services, all materials should be returned to the branch they were checked out from.

Are there late fees?

At this time, we are waiving all late fees and will let you know once they have been restored.

Are external book returns open?

Yes, in most cases, the external book drops are open. Contact your branch to find out if this service is available.