Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to identify the measures employed in the provision of patron services in Chinese academic libraries responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, noting the challenges and issues inherent in providing substantial services while undergoing a public health emergency . Design/methodology/approach: This paper uses an analytical survey study of 137 Chinese academic libraries using data collected through a combination of website investigation, social media access and direct correspondences . Findings: Over 94% of Chinese academic libraries released COVID-19-related information through their websites; the majority switched their service focus to partly or solely remotely online, including remote access, free electronic resources, virtual references reachable 24/7 and research support services deliverable online; services of print materials were altered to e-books for conveniences . Research limitations/implications: It should be noted that the survey was conducted from February 12 to April 5 , 2020; because of the rapid updates to the library's website and social media channels, the status of their patron services are in the process of dynamic changes and that there should be many libraries that have adopted some patron service methods, but this study is difficult to cover comprehensively . In addition, patron services carried out offline by the surveyed libraries but not disclosed on the online platform could not be analyzed in a way that would be consistent with the data provided by the survey . Originality/value: By providing evidence of the current status of patron services in Chinese academic libraries during the COVID-19 pandemic, this study helps fulfill the scant empirical attention given to the impact of nationwide public health crises on academic libraries and offers new data of the best practices that help library administrators enhance the impact, efficiency and value of library services to their target community users.