How to Use NYPL's Grab & Go Service

By NYPL Staff
July 8, 2020

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grab-and-go logo

We hope you've been enjoying your e-books, e-audiobooks, and other digital library resources these past few months while the Library's physical locations have been temporarily closed. We know patrons have been eager to check out items from our physical collections once again. That’s why the Library has begun the careful, phased process of returning limited service to select locations. We have been offering grab-and-go service at select branch locations since July 13. This service allows patrons to access a limited area of these select branches to return materials and pick up holds. 

What Is Grab-and-Go?

Our grab-and-go service allows patrons to pickup and return materials while safely maintaining distance from others. The process is contactless: Once your items are ready for pickup, they will immediately be checked out to your account. This way, all you have to do when you get to the library is grab your items from the holds shelf—then go! There is no need to stop by the circulation desk for checkout. The same goes for returns—rather than visiting the desk, there will be a designated bin where you can return any items you currently have.

Where Can I Find Grab-and-Go Locations?

For information about current and upcoming grab-and-go locations, visit our page about the Library's limited reopening

To prepare for your grab-and-go visit, here's what you need to know. 

Step 1: Log In to Your Online Library Account

If you have a physical library card, log in to your account using your 14-digit library card number (found on the back of your card) or your username and your PIN.

If you only have a digital library card via the SimplyE app, you should have received an email with your 14-digit library card number when you signed up for an account. If you need to retrieve it, you can log in here with your username and PIN and find your number below your name. (Not sure what your username is? Find it under Accounts in the SimplyE app). 

Step 2: Put an Item on Hold

Once you're logged in, you will be able to place a hold. 

What Is a Hold? 

Placing a hold means you’re requesting an item for pickup at an NYPL location of your choice. If an item is listed as “Available” in the catalog, it will be sent to your branch within a couple of days. If it is listed as “Not Available,” that means all copies are currently checked out. By placing the item on hold, you are putting yourself in a queue with other patrons who have requested the item. You will be notified as soon as it’s your turn to pick up the item. During our gradual reopening period, patrons can check out up to 25 physical books and place up to 15 holds at one time.

Note: Starting July 13, patrons will also be able to place holds via phone by calling Ask NYPL at 917-275-6975 or by calling one of the grab-and-go locations.

Placing a Hold

Find the item you wish to reserve in the catalog, and click the "Place Hold" button.


You will be asked to choose from one of the select locations that are currently offering grab-and-go service. Choose the location that is the most convenient for you to pick up your reserved material. 


Find NYPL locations open for Grab-and-Go service in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island.

NOTE: Brooklyn is served by the Brooklyn Public Library. Learn about their Grab-and-Go service here. Queens is served by the Queens Public Library. Learn about their To-Go Service here


​For information on how to manage existing holds, including frozen holds or holds that may have already been in process before our closure in March, see our Frequently Asked Questions page. 

Have more questions about holds? Check out this blog post: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Putting a Book on Hold (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Step 3: Wait Until Your Item Is Ready for Pickup

Once your item is ready for pickup, you will receive an email from the Library to let you know.

Step 4: Head to the Library, Then Grab—and Go!

When your item is ready to be picked up, it's time to head to the library. All but one of our select grab-and-go locations will be open during the following hours: 

  • Mon, Tues, Thurs: 11 AM — 6 PM
  • Wed: 12 —7 PM
  • Fri, Sat: 11 AM — 5 PM

The exception is the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL), which will be open during the following hours:

  • Mon—Fri: 10 AM — 6 PM
  • Sat: 11 AM — 5 PM 
six feet apart floor sticker

When you arrive at the library, you must:

  • wear a mask or face covering—patrons not wearing one will not be permitted to enter
  • wait outside the library until it is your turn to enter
  • physically distance while in line and while inside the branch
  • adhere to capacity restrictions inside the branch

When it's your turn, you will walk into the small part of the library that is open, pick up your hold, check it out, and leave.  Check out your materials using one of our three socially distant checkout processes: express self-checkout, staff-assisted checkout, or the new NYPL app.  The process will be contactless.

To find your hold on the shelf, look for the slip with the last four digits of your library card, along with the first four letters of your last name. Here’s how you can find your library card number:

  • If you have a physical library card, look on the back of your card and find the 14 digits under the barcode. Your hold will be displayed with the last four digits of this number.

  • If you applied for a digital library library card through SimplyE, you can find your full library card number by opening the SimplyE app and going to Settings >> Accounts >> The New York Public Library. 

    • Note that some iOS devices may not display your library card number in the SimplyE app. If you cannot see your card number in the app, log in here with your username and PIN.

    • You can also find your digital library card number in your email.  You should have received an email from with the subject "Welcome to SimplyE and your new digital library card." when you registered for your card. If it's not in your inbox, be sure to check your spam folder.

Step 5: Head Home and Get Reading!

When you've finished, books can be returned to designated bins at all grab-and-go locations. Keep in mind that fines will not accrue until January 1, 2021. 


For more information on this initial phase of our gradual reopening, please see our Frequently Asked Questions, which will be continually updated. Contact Ask NYPL with any other questions.