Library and Information Technician LIT104 Lecture Notes - Magnetic Stripe Card, Interlibrary Loan, Special Library
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Notes on Circulation
The primary purpose of a circulation system is to enable a library to lend
materials. To do this, the circulation system must be able to create links between
the things the library owns (represented in an ILS by item records) and the
library’s clients (represented in an ILS by patron records).
Circulation is governed by policies (set by the library, e.g. who is allowed to
borrow material, borrowing periods and limits) and procedures (how those
policies are implemented). It is important that policies and procedures are
implemented fairly and consistently.
Operations included in circulation include
•Check out and renewals
•Over dues, fines and bills
•Special circulation types, such as reserve collections (academic libraries),
homebound customers, and interlibrary loans
•May be done in batch load in an academic institution where records for
students are already on file
•Generally done individually in public or special library
•Always check that the person is not already on file!
•Generally need to show ID with address – library determines what is
acceptable. Not permissible to ask for health card but may accept it if
•Customer is generally given a barcoded card. The barcode works as a
key to the patron record in the same way as the barcode on an item acts
as a key to the item record.
•Just as item records have an item loan type code, patron records have a
patron type code. These two codes work together in a matrix to create the
Patron type Adult book Children’s book DVD Reference
Adult 21 days – fine
$0.10 per day
21 days – fine
$0.10 per day
7 days – fine
$1 per day,
limit of 3
Child May not
21 days – fine
$0.05 per day
Senior 21 days – no 21 days – no 7 days – fine Not available
fines fines $0.50 per day for loan
•Scan the barcode on the patron card. The system will generally display
any alerts (overdues, outstanding bills, items being held) at this point.
•Scan the barcode on the item.
•The system runs a series of checks:
1. Is the patron in good standing? Customers may be blocked if they
owe too much money or have too many overdues.
2. If so, is the patron allowed to borrow this material type (based on
the borrowing rules matrix)?
3. If everything is good, the system creates a link in the checkout file
between the item record and the patron record and calculates the
date due for the item.
•Generally, libraries like to give the customer some tangible reminder of the
due date, such as stamping a slip in the item or printing a receipt.
•Deal with any security issues (e.g. unlocking the case, desensitizing the
•Also done at checkout, many ILS systems allow customers to renew items
•Number of renewals controlled by circulation rules.
•Generally, materials with a hold on them can’t be renewed.
•Scanning the barcode breaks the link between the patron record and the
•Items need to be checked for damage or missing bits.
•Fines are calculated automatically. Most systems allow a fine-free
checkin option and a backdated checkin date (e.g. for book drops).
•Staff are alerted to items with holds.
Overdues, Fines and Bills
•Most libraries charge fines for late returns.
•Staff often have the discretion to waive some or all fines.
•Libraries may send notices to customers about overdue items. Some
systems will send an email when material is nearing its due date.
•Public libraries may use a collection agency to recover overdue material.
•Academic libraries have the option of being able to withhold transcripts
until a student’s library account is in good standing.
•Customers generally have to pay for lost items. There is often a
processing fee as well.
•May be placed by staff or customers, may be on title or copy (e.g. issue of
•Matrix determines which item types are holdable and which patron types
may place holds on them.
•Captured at checkin
•“Pick lists” for items in library with holds on them (some libraries/ILSes do
not allow holds on “in library” items)
•Customers contacted by email or telephone (may be automated) when
•Holds not picked up expire after a library-defined period; need to be taken
off hold shelf and checked in.
Special circulation types
•Homebound – materials selected by staff, delivered by staff or volunteers
•Reserve – material pulled from collection, put behind desk, shortened loan
period (e.g. 2 hours). Used in academic libraries for required readings for
•Interlibrary loan – items borrowed from another library for customer.