Princeton University Library

FAQ: Circulation

Frequently Asked Questions: Circulation

Answers to some of the most frequently asked circulation related questions are listed below. If you have a circulation question that is not answered here, please use the links at the bottom of this page to contact us.

  1. What should I do if I can't find a book?
  2. The Main Catalog lists a book as "Unavailable", "Lost", or "Missing". How can I get a copy of it?
  3. Why can't I check out a book?
  4. Can I check out a book without my ID Card?
  5. Can I ask my spouse, family member, or friend to check out a book for me with my ID card?
  6. How do I renew my books online?
  7. Do I have to bring my books to the library to have them renewed?
  8. Why can't I renew this book that is checked out to me?
  9. I urgently need a book that is charged out to another person. How can I get it?
  10. Where should I return books?
  11. I received a notice for a book I returned. What should I do?
  12. I received a bill for overdue books that is incorrect. How can I resolve this?
  13. What are the overdue item fines and fees?
  14. Where can I pay my fines and fees?
  15. How can I find out more about the Library's circulation policies?

Q. What should I do if I can't find a book?
A. If you are having difficulty locating a book in the stacks consider filling out a trace request form, available at the Circulation Desk or online. Library staff will search for the item and notify you regarding the results of the search.
Some libraries (such as Firestone) have multiple shelving locations within them. If you are unsure of an item's location, please ask for assistance at the Circulation Desk.

Q. The Main Catalog lists a book as "Unavailable", "Lost" or "Missing". How can I get a copy of it?
A. If a book is unavailable, you may seek the assistance of a reference librarian, who will be able to help you locate another copy. You may also request to borrow a copy of the item from another library via the Libraries' Borrow Direct or Interlibrary Loan Services, or request another copy be purchased.

Q. Why can't I check out a book?
A. There are several reasons you may not be able to check out a book. The most common are:

Please inquire at the Access Office (in Firestone), or the Firestone Circulation Desk for specific information regarding your privileges.

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Q. Can I check out a book without my ID card?
A. Your Princeton University identification card also serves as your library card, and it is necessary to present it to check out or renew books. If you do not have your ID card, we will place books on hold for you until you retrieve or replace your ID, at which time you may check out the books.

Q. Can I ask my spouse/family member/friend to check out a book for me with my ID card?
A. Princeton University ID cards are non-transferrable. Only you may use your card to borrow books. If someone other than you attempts to use your card, the card is subject to be confiscated. Note that faculty may designate a proxy borrower to check materials out on their behalf. It is also possible for family members of University affiliates to obtain library privileges. Please inquire at the Access Office for additional information.

Q. How do I renew my books online?
A. You may request renewal of non-academic year loan books online from Firestone Library, Engineering Library or Stokes Library. To renew a Lewis Library book, please reply to the emailed courtesy notice or overdue notice. At this time, other libraries do not offer an online book renewal service.

Q. Do I have to bring my books to the library to have them renewed?
A. Books charged on academic year loans must be returned to the library from which they were borrowed to be renewed.

The Firestone and Stokes libraries offer an online renewal request service. Please see response to question above for information.

You may not renew books by telephone.

Q. Why can't I renew this book that is checked out to me?
A. In most libraries, you may renew items checked out to you up to eight times before the items must be returned to the library or libraries from which they were checked out. Books charged on academic year loan are to be returned to the library from which they were borrowed on or before thedue date. If no holds have been placed on the items, they may be renewed.

You may not be able to renew a book if another user has placed a recall or hold on it, or if it has been recalled for Reserves. You may also be prevented from renewing a book if your borrowing privileges have been suspended for any of the reasons above.

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Q. I urgently need a book that is charged out to another person. How can I get it?
A. If a book you need is checked out to another user, you may place a recall on it from the Main Catalog. You may also check the catalogs of other area libraries, to which you may have access.

Q. Where should I return books?
A. Return books to the library from which they were checked out. As a courtesy, books may be returned to any library however. There may be a delay in the item becoming accessible to other borrowers while the item is in transit to its owning location. Books that are returned to a location other than the owning location will have a status of "In Transit" in the Main Catalog. This status will remain in effect until the item is returned to the owning library. If the item is listed as "In Transit", you may ask for help at the Circulation Desk. The staff will assist you in trying to locate the item.

Items borrowed from the Language Resource Center must be returned to that location.

Q. I received a notice for a book I returned. What should I do?
A. Take the notice you received to the Circulation Desk of the library from which it was sent, and ask that a trace be placed on the item. We will notify you of the trace results. We may ask that you check your dorm room, office, or apartment, with friends or colleagues to whom the book may have been loaned, or any other place you may think of, for the book because occasionally library borrowers mistakenly believe an item has been returned when it has not.

Q. I received a bill for overdue books that is incorrect. How can I resolve this?
A. Take the notice to the Circulation Desk of the library from which it was sent, and ask to see the supervisor on duty. The supervisor will work with you to resolve the problem.

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Q. What are the overdue item fines and fees?
A. Fines for circulating books are $0.25 per calendar day for each day the item is late to a maximum of $22.50. Fines for reserve items are $0.01 per minute to a maximum of $15.00. Fines for items that have been recalled and not returned by the recall due date are $1.00 per day to a maximum of $90.00. The Language Resource Center asseses a fine of $2.00 per day to a maximum of $30.00 for unreturned items.

If an item is not returned and the library considers it lost, standard replacement (varies by library) and processing ($50.00) fees will be added to the fines.

Q. Where can I pay my fines and fees?
A. When charges are incurred at the library, we send you a message detailing the charges; the message also provides information about payment. You may make the payment at the Firestone Library circulation/reserve desk by credit card (Visa or MasterCard) or by check (payable to "Princeton University Library"). Students may request the amount be added to their Student Account. If you would like to know your outstanding balance, please ask at any circulation desk, or view "Your Account" online from the Main Catalog.

Q. How can I find out more about the Libraries' circulation policies?
A. Please see the Circulation Policy covering IDs, loan periods, losses and replacements, overdue items and fines, and more.

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For additional information specific to each library, please contact the individual libraries.

Comments and questions to: Trevor A. Dawes (tdawes@Princeton.EDU).

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Last updated: September 12, 2011