Monday Update: SLPL’s servers, location services

Dear Patrons,

St. Louis Public Library was the victim of a ransomware attack on Thursday, January 19, 2017. Criminals broke into the Library’s network, installed malware that kept it from functioning normally and demanded payment to remove the software. The attack affected checkout and computer access at all 17 Library locations.

The Library immediately contacted the FBI, which has experts working on this growing problem. The Library has made no payment of ransom. Working through the night and weekend, the Library’s technology staff successfully regained access to the affected servers and is using the Library’s backup system to restore them. Our first priority was to restore the ability of patrons to check out books. That has now been accomplished, and our patrons may once again check out materials at all our locations. Staff has begun restoring service to the reserveable computers at each location. As of today, January 23, some computers are available at many of our locations. For the time being, I ask that you call ahead and make certain a computer is available. We hope to have all public computers and mobile printing available shortly.

St. Louis Public Library has been working with the FBI to identify how criminals broke into our system and correct the problem. I apologize to patrons for any inconvenience this incident has caused: on most days thousands of St. Louis Public Library patrons check out materials and use computers for many purposes. The real victims of this criminal attack are the Library’s patrons. SLPL has worked hard to open a secure but widely available digital world to the people of St. Louis, and I am sorry it was interrupted. An attempt to hold information and access to the world for ransom is deeply frightening and offensive to any public library, and we will make every effort to keep that world available to our patrons.

I want to assure the public that our first concern was protecting personal information. SLPL does not store patrons’ personal or financial information on our servers; therefore that data has not been compromised.

All of our Libraries remain open, and our extensive WiFi services were never interrupted. SLPL’s website and access to an enormous variety of databases remains active and busy, and our patrons have continued to download books, movies and music.

I would like to thank the public and colleagues across the country for their expressions of concern and support. I want to publicly thank the staff of the Library, who have been working diligently and passionately to serve the public, as they always do. We look forward to providing all-important Library service throughout St. Louis.


Waller McGuire
Executive Director of the St. Louis Public Library