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
• Patron registration
• Check out and renewals
• Check in
• 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 21 days – fine 7 days – fine Not available
$0.10 per day $0.10 per day $1 per day, for loan
limit of 3
Child May not 21 days – fine May not Not available
borrow $0.05 per day borrow for loan
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