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Library Services and Collections During COVID-19

Mullen Library is open, with some adjustments to hours and services.

How to use this guide

What's in this guide?

This guide includes multiple pages, which can be reached using the navigation menu. The menu is to the left (on a computer) or above this box (on a mobile device).

What's on this page?

You are currently viewing our page on "Library FAQs." This page offers our answers to frequently asked questions, arranged into the following sections:

  • Services
  • Library Materials
  • Textbooks and Course Readings

FAQs about library services

Questions in this section

What library services are available now?

Services Available? Requirement
Walk-in library access No, must have a reservation Make a seat reservation
Study in the library Yes, by reservation Make a seat reservation
Browse the library stacks No, request to pickup books Book pickup info and requests
Printing & computer use Yes, by reservation Reserve a seat in a computer lab or bring your laptop (see "Can I enter Mullen Library to use the computers or printers?")
Access Services & Circulation desk Not in person, service desk closed. Call or email 202-319-5060 or lib-circulation@cua.edu
Research assistance & Information desk Not in person, service desk closed. Email or Quick Live Help Email a Librarian or Quick Live Help
Meet with research librarians Yes, schedule an online appointment Meet with a Librarian or List of liaisons
Library instruction Yes, online instruction offered Classroom instruction info and requests
Course reserves Online items only. No print items on reserve Course reserves info and requests
Book drop Yes, behind library only Use the book drop at the back of the library
Return books by mail Yes See mailing items instructions
Request items from other universities Yes, via CLS and ILL Info about requests. NOTE: print items take longer than usual to arrive

How do I reserve a study spot in Mullen Library?

Mullen Library's study spaces are open by reservation only from 11 am - 7 pm, Monday-Friday. The reservation of study spaces is a new procedure in place to safeguard our patrons and staff from exposure to COVID-19.

  • To gain admittance to the building:
    1. you must have a reservation
    2. be wearing a face covering, and
    3. show your current CU ID.
  • Study spaces have been identified throughout the building. Notes on spaces:
    • For printing and computer workstations, see FAQ below about "Can I enter Mullen Library to use the computers or printers?"
    • To use reference volumes in the Religious Studies or Philosophy Reading Rooms, reserve a space in the specific room.
    • The Canon Law Reading Room study spaces are limited to current Canon Law faculty and students, who have been given the entry code by their School. A seat reservation is still needed.
  • Beginning April 5, reservations are available for the hours that Mullen Library is open; there is no limitation to how many hours you may reserve, but please be courteous to other students and only schedule for times you realistically expect to use. All library users will be required to submit a reservation request at least 2 hours in advance of the selected reservation time and reservations can be made 10 days in advance..
  • Check our online directory before arrival to make sure you know the location of your reserved seat and how to get there; directories are posted on each floor.
  • Watch your time and be prepared to leave before or at the end of your time slot, because someone else may have reserved that same spot after you.

Can I enter Mullen Library to use the computers or printers?

Yes, but.... Entrance to Mullen Library is available ONLY to CU students, faculty, and staff, and each must reserve a study space in advance.

Are library staff available to answer questions?

YES! We have four, easy-to-use options:

Email a Librarian Submit questions 24/7 and you will receive an email reply on the next business day or sooner.

Quick Live Help: Monday through Friday from 10 AM to 4 PM. Use this service to launch a Zoom video-conference session with our library Information Desk staff, who can answer your questions.

Meet with a Librarian: Meet with one of the subject-liaison librarians for in-depth research assistance. Book an appointment with a specific librarian or click "no preference" to meet with any member of the team. Please allow at least 24 hours between requesting a meeting and your suggested meeting time.

Email your Subject-Liaison Librarian: Subject-liaisons offer research consultations using Google Meet, Zoom, or phone. They can help you develop an information-seeking strategy, guide you through finding articles and books, help you use citation tools, and assist as you focus your research.

Whom should I contact if I have questions about library materials?

Access Services / Circulation Desk. Contact the Circulation Desk staff by phone or email for questions about your library account, borrowing or renewing items, course reserves, and interlibrary loans. Email: lib-circulation@cua.edu and phone: 202-319-5060. NOTE: the Circulation Desk is CLOSED to on-site interactions at this time.

FAQs about library materials

Questions in this section

What should I do if I have a book that is due?

Use our book drop or mail the item/s back to the library.

  1. Book Drop: If you are on campus or able to travel to campus, place your books in the book drop at the rear of Mullen Library. NOTE: Before travelling in DC, please check the DC Mayor's Coronavirus website for updates on stay-at-home orders and other restrictions (coronavirus.dc.gov).

  2. Mailing Items: If you are a remote user, you may ship your borrowed books to us following these instructions to ensure the safe return of the items:
    • No more than 10 books per box
    • Trackable Shipping (UPS or Fedex)
    • Use a sturdy box, with padding (old newspaper, bubble wrap, etc.)
    • Ship To:
      Access Services
      123 Mullen Library
      The Catholic University of America
      620 Michigan Avenue NE
      Washington, DC 20064

If you wish to renew a CU or CLS book that you have borrowed, you can do that in My Library Account. For ILL renewals, please email lib-ill@cua.edu.

A note on due dates and charges: Because we understand that returning library books during the pandemic may be difficult, we will continue extending CU item due dates through summer 2021, for all but graduating students.* CU no longer charges overdue fines, but continues to charge fees for recalls, lost books, and damaged books. Fees for books borrowed using CLS or ILL may differ.

We thank those who return borrowed items as soon as possible and make them available to other students and faculty.

*Graduating students who have outstanding loans at the time of graduation will have a hold placed on their library account and be unable to obtain a transcript until their library account is settled.

Are the library stacks open for browsing?

No. The library stacks are closed. Our SearchBox catalog does offer a Virtual Browse feature. To see this, look up a book in our collection, then scroll down to the bottom of the catalog entry to find the Virtual Browse section.

Can I borrow or request scans of items from the print collections of Mullen Library?

Yes, you may request items or scans. All members of the campus community may request to borrow circulating print items. You may also request scans of articles or chapters in our print collections and scans will be provided within the limit of copyright restrictions.

To borrow a book:

  • Look up the item in Searchbox, our online catalog
  • Submit a request (You can find the link below the section on Availability in the item catalog entry)
  • You will receive an on-screen confirmation and the request will show up in your MyLibrary account
  • If the item is on the shelf, we will pull it, check it out, package it for pick-up, and you will receive an email directing you to schedule a date and time for pickup. We encourage you to read our Mullen Library Book Pickup Policies in advance of scheduling.
  • NOTE: Remote patrons who would like to have books mailed to them must register in advance.

To request a scan for personal research:

  • Look up the item in Searchbox, our library catalog
  • Submit a request for a Chapter/Article Interlibrary loan (You can find the request link below the section on Availability in the item catalog entry)
  • Scans will be delivered to you electronically

To request a scan for course reserves:

Am I able to request items owned by other universities, using CLS or ILL Delivery?

Yes, both physical items and online items are being delivered.

  • Physical Items -- note: expect some delays.
    Consortium (CLS) and InterLibrary (ILL) lending of physical items has resumed. However, many libraries are still closed and we maintain a three (3) day quarantine before handling all incoming materials. You may experience longer waits and we may be unable to fill some requests.

  • Online Items
    The InterLibrary Loan service is continuing to request materials which can be delivered electronically. Please submit your requests for electronic versions of book chapters and articles by logging in to your ILL account.

Can I put books on Course Reserve for my class?

Yes and no. Course reserves for physical items are suspended for the spring 2021 semester for the below reasons. We cannot reserve physical copies of items owned by the libraries or you personally.

  • Safety protocols for COVID-19 require the Libraries to quarantine items for 72 hours between use.
  • Because many students will be taking all or some classes online, we need to ensure that everyone has access to resources online.
  • Online access to course materials allows flexibility for any individual, university or regional contingencies related to COVID-19.

Please speak with your liaison librarian about other options. We may be able to purchase the title as an e-book, or we may scan a portion of a physical book in our collection (within copyright guidelines) that can be linked for your Blackboard class.

FAQs about textbooks and course readings

Questions in this section

Is it okay to upload my own scan of a library item to Blackboard?

No, usually not. The library needs to manage these uploads in our course reserve system for two reasons:

  1. When library staff upload to course reserves, we make sure fair use standards are being followed.
  2. The library tracks usage of library items on course reserve. This data informs our decisions about subscription renewals and cancellations. Direct faculty uploads to Blackboard do not offer library usage data.

Can Mullen Library staff scan textbooks or course readings for my class?

Yes, within copyright guidelines. Faculty can request that library scan course texts and upload them through our online course reserves. The library can scan chapters in library-owned books, instructor-owned personal books, and other readings. Instructions are below.

How to have us scan your readings (for instructors):

  1. Fill out the online request form for articles and book chapters
  2. Once the scan is completed, we will email a link to the resource. The link can then be put into a Blackboard course.

Things to note 

  1. We can scan a chapter, or up to 10% of a volume, but we cannot scan entire textbooks because of copyright law.
  2. If you wish to scan from a personal copy, please email lib-reserves@cua.edu to schedule a drop-off. We will let you know when your copy is ready to be picked up.
  3. Library staff will check for ebooks and online availability before scanning texts. If the resource is already available, we will let you know how to have your class access it, rather than creating a new scan.

Do we have access to online textbooks?

YES, to many textbooks. We suggest three options: Image saying "Free the textbook"

  • The Open Textbook Network has freely available e-books that may serve as an alternative to an assigned textbook reading. Their offerings are arranged by subject on the Open Textbook Library website at https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks. All books and teaching materials offered through the Open Textbook Network are always available for free.
  • The University Libraries has a limited number of e-textbooks in our collections, but it is always a good idea to check SearchBox.
  • The Open Libraries project of the Internet Archive has some e-textbooks (and many other e-books) that maybe borrowed for 14 days or 1 hour. Signup is free and easy.

Catholic University FAQs pages