Welcome to Request and Read

We are delighted to be able to offer library users our new Request and Read service.  This  will enable customers to order and collect books from some of our libraries.  To start with, this service is only available from Swiss Cottage, Holborn and Highgate Libraries.

We have developed this service in response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, as a new way to get books to library members while keeping customers and staff safe. In designing this we have followed Public Health England guidelines on social distancing, hygiene and maintaining a Covid-safe environment.  

Which books are available

At the moment, we can only supply items which are in stock at the library you will collect from.  As well as regular printed books we can also offer Large Print and Talking Books (CD Format only).  You can borrow up to four books at a time through this service.  We regret that CDs and DVDs are not available.

Please note that the library catalogue is not up-to-date, so it won't give you correct information about which books are available. 

Our library stock is limited at present and we cannot offer any new titles.  Our usual reservations service is not in operation.  So, we cannot guarantee that we will have the particular title you are looking for.  We ask for your patience as we try to satisfy your requests. If we don’t have the book(s) you request we will suggest alternatives, in discussion with you.

We are taking online orders now, and items will be ready for collection from Monday 17th August.  Telephone ordering will also be available from then.

To order, please complete our request form or call us by phone – full details on the next page.

Request and Read Feedback Survey

We invite you to complete a short survey on our Request and Read offering. The survey can be found here:

https://consultations.wearecamden.org/supporting-communities/request-and-read-satisfaction-survey

How to order

To order your books please fill in the online form or call the number below to speak to a member of the library team.

You can borrow up to four books.  Parents can also borrow four books for each of their children.  Parents should fill in their contact details for any children or young people under 18.

You will need to give us your contact details, library membership number (starting 20111, or CAM if you have recently joined).  Please give details of the titles or the kind of books you are looking for.  Once we have received your order, a member of staff will contact you to let you know what is available from the library and to give you a date and time for collection.

Loan period

At the moment, all items will be due back on 1st October.  But of course you can bring them back earlier, which will help us to get the books out to more people.

Available at three libraries

At present there are three Camden libraries operating the Request and Read service:  Swiss Cottage, Holborn and Highgate Libraries. When making your request please specify which of these libraries you wish to collect your books from. We hope to open other libraries in due course.

Order online

To order online, select your library:

Order by phone

  • To order by phone, call 0207 974 6987 between 10.30am - 3.30pm Monday - Saturday.

Ordering at Highgate

To get books at Highgate Library, you can use the online order form, order by phone, or come to the library to pick up a Book Bundle during one of our collection sessions (see below).  

Order now

Book bundles

Come to the library and ask for a bundle of four books.   We have prepared a range of types of Book Bundle, for example crime and general fiction, and children's books for all ages.   You are welcome to return library books at the same time.


The library will have a number of measures in place to keep users, staff and volunteers safe. These include:

  • Please queue outside the library at two metres distance
  • We ask library users to wear face coverings, in line with government guidance
  • We will quarantine returned books for 72 hours

Collecting books

Collection and returning points will be set up in the doorway of the library.  We regret that there is no general access to the library at the moment. 

Collection hours

From Tuesday 18th August, the library will be open at these times for people to collect books:

  • Tuesday, 10am to 12noon
  • Thursday, 2pm to 4pm

Collecting and returning your items

Collecting your books

A collection point will be available in the foyer of Swiss Cottage, Holborn and Highgate libraries for you to pick up your books. To ensure that we can keep everyone a safe distance from each other we will have a queueing system in place.  This will ensure that both staff and customers can comply with social distancing guidance.

Hand sanitizer will be available and we encourage all Camden Library customers to sanitize their hands and wear a mask in line with Government regulations.

Books will be made into small bundles held together with a rubber band. Please bring your own bag for collecting and transporting books.


Returning books

If you are picking up books, you can return library items at the same time.  Please ensure that you queue as appropriate to ensure the two metre distance between customers.

If you are just returning items, you can drop your items into book collection boxes at Swiss Cottage, Holborn or Highgate Libraries.

Your books will be quarantined for 72 hours and then discharged by library staff.

If we can’t contact you, or you don’t collect your books

We will try to contact you three times to confirm your order.  If we cannot contact you after five working days, we will cancel your order.

If you don't collect your order within the agreed time, your books will be unpacked and returned to the shelves. To obtain the items after this you will need to place the order again.