Borrowing Policy & Procedures

Mason & Ramsdell Libraries (Great Barrington Libraries) are the public libraries for the Town of Great Barrington.  We invite the public to use and borrow our materials according to their status, and we freely lend our materials to other certified libraries in Massachusetts. All C/WMARS public library cards are honored for borrowing privileges. Persons not residing in Massachusetts may, for a fee, be eligible for library privileges at the Great Barrington Libraries. The Library Trustees reserve the right, on a case-by-case basis, to deny borrowing privileges to residents of decertified communities.

New Registrations:
1. Identification Required:  To be issued a new library card, the borrower must request the card in person at the library, and must provide a picture ID and a separate proof of residence bearing the borrower’s name and current address. Cards are not issued as a result of requests received electronically or via U.S.P.S.
2      Acceptable Identification:  Photo identification (e.g. driver’s license or passport) is needed along with a current check book, bank book, voter registration card, utility bill, postmarked mail they have received, or other similar means of documenting a bona fide mailing address is acceptable.
3.     Identification of Minors:  Children or young adults with no identification may use their parents’ identification. Children must be at least 5 years old to receive their own library card.
4.     Addresses:  Where a street address and mailing address are different, both should be entered on the borrower’s record, with the mailing address listed as the primary entry.
5.     Accommodations: In the interest of good public relations, if the patron indicates the identification process presents a hardship (i.e., participants in the state’s Address Confidentiality Program), the library employee will attempt to make a reasonable accommodation (see “Registration Accommodations: A Supplement to Borrowing Policy & Procedures” appended).

C/W MARS Reciprocal Borrower Registration:

If a patron has a card at another certified, public C/WMARS library, they do not need a Great Barrington card to borrow materials. Normally only Great Barrington/Housatonic residents receive Great Barrington cards-unless Out-of-State Borrowing or Massachusetts Resident applies (see below). When new patrons are registered it will be determined whether the patron has a library card at any other C/W MARS library before a card is issued by the Great Barrington Libraries.

If the patron has overdue or lost books or fines at a C/W MARS library, the patron will be asked to pay their fines or return their books to the other C/W MARS library before being issued a Great Barrington library card.

Residents of Massachusetts:

Residents who do not have a library card with a public library belonging to CWMARS and/or those who have an academic library card may apply for a Great Barrington Library card provided they are in good standing and provide picture ID and a separate proof of residence.
Non-Residents of Massachusetts:
Non-Resident Fee:  Borrowers not residing in Massachusetts who cannot provide the documentation detailed below that would exempt them from non-resident fees are considered OUT-OF-STATE BORROWERS and must pay the fee of $25.00 per year (a twelve month period) for the privilege of checking materials out of the Great Barrington Libraries.
Family Use of Cards:  An out-of-state borrower’s card may be used by other members of the same family (see section “Borrowing Restrictions – Use of Another Borrower’s Card” below). Each card issued will cost $25.00 per year.
Exempted Non-Residents of Massachusetts:
Exemptions Defined:  Borrowers not residing in Massachusetts must pay a non-resident fee to borrow materials from Great Barrington Libraries unless they can provide documentation demonstrating they:

  • Own a vacation home or property in Massachusetts
  • Rent lodging in Massachusetts for at least thirty days
  • Reside in Massachusetts while attending school, a training program or summer camp lasting at least thirty days
  • Work in Great Barrington

Verification of Exemption:  Documentation may include all those listed for identification above, as well as lease or rental agreements, land deeds, school identification cards, official notice from their school, camp director or employer on letterhead stationery, or other similar means of documenting a temporary residence.
Permanent Address:  Applicants must show identification with their permanent out-of-state address along with the documentation of their current temporary status.
Borrowers’ Responsibility:
Borrowers are responsible for all items borrowed on their cards, including the fines charged for overdue materials and replacement costs for items lost or damaged.
Borrowers are responsible for keeping their registration current.  Any borrower who has mail returned to the library as undeliverable, has a phone number that is not current, or has an email address that is “not deliverable,” may be blocked from the use of library services until the registration is updated. Identification may be required (as with New Registrations) at the discretion of library staff.
Anyone, of any age, who is eligible for a library card may use any materials in the Great Barrington Libraries and shall not have that privilege limited by any staff person.  Parents who wish to deny their children access to certain materials must take the responsibility themselves.

Confidentiality of Borrowing Records:

Borrower Confidentiality:  In accordance with Chapter 78, Section 7 of Massachusetts General Laws, the borrowing records of individual patrons concerning type of material and/or specific titles borrowed and other records identifying the name of library users is considered confidential by the Great Barrington Libraries.  Only the Director may authorize the dissemination of this information to a third party, and this will be done only when required by law.
Records of Minors:  Information about materials borrowed by minors may be granted to the legal guardians once those items have achieved a status of overdue.
General Loan Periods:

Most library materials are loaned for a period of three weeks.  New fiction and new non-fiction are borrowed for three weeks.  Magazines, VHS videocassettes and DVD’s are loaned for one week. Materials can be renewed (online, by phone or in person) for one additional loan period, if there are no holds on the item.
Borrowing Restrictions:
Items Checked Out: There is a 50 item limit on the total number of items that a borrower may take from the Great Barrington Libraries at any given time. Additionally, there may be limits on some materials to assure that there is sufficient information or materials available in a given format.

Blocks: A patron will be denied borrowing privileges, or blocked, if the account has overdue fines in excess of $10.00, billed items that have not been returned, or charges for damage to library materials.

Use of Another Borrower’s Card
Great Barrington Libraries discourages the sharing of library cards between family members and friends. The person whose name is on the card remains responsible for the safe return of all materials.

Great Barrington Libraries may request positive identification from any person checking materials out.
A loan may be denied if the patron attempting to check items out is not the same person as indicated on the borrower card presented and has outstanding debt or blocks that would have prevented the loan on the patron’s own card.  As an example, if a mother’s card is blocked she may be denied borrowing privileges on her children’s cards until her outstanding debt is settled.  Every effort should be made not to penalize a child for the parent’s delinquency.
Renewals: All circulating library material is renewable provided another reader has not put a hold on it.  Exceptions are made for certified disabled individuals (see below).
Extended Loan Periods for People with Disabilities: As part of the effort to assure equal access to the information available in the collections of the Great Barrington Libraries and to assure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, steps are taken by the library to provide for reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities.
Certified Disabled:  To be eligible for an exception to the library’s Borrowing Policy & Procedures, the borrower must be able to provide certification of disability from a qualified health care or education professional (depending upon the disability), with appropriate justification from the borrower as to why the disability warrants the exception.  Such justification should be directly related to the borrower’s ability to process the material (i.e. dyslexia or other learning disability) and should stipulate whether this is a one-time or ongoing request.  Age alone does not qualify as a certifiable disability eligible for exception under this policy.
Exceptions:   Exceptions may be authorized by the Assistant Director or Children’s Librarian at the time the request is made if the request requires an immediate response, otherwise the request should be deferred for the Director.  Only the Director and Assistant Director are authorized to negotiate open-ended arrangements.  Such arrangements should be abstracted by library staff in a patron note on the C/W MARS system to alert staff at subsequent transactions.
Negotiated Requests: First-time requests by certified disabled borrowers to negotiate exceptions to the library’s Borrowing Policy & Procedures must be done in person at the library.
Reserve Books: Items on reserve for others will not be granted extended loan periods regardless of the extenuating circumstances of the certified disabled requesting borrower.
Interlibrary Loaned Materials:  Materials owned by other libraries will not be granted extended loan periods regardless of the extenuating circumstances of the requesting borrower because those lending periods are established by the lending libraries.
One Extended Loan Limit: Items granted extended loan under these guidelines will be limited to one extension period only.  Requests for additional time on items will be denied.
Total Item Limits: Persons requesting items be granted extended loan periods under these guidelines will be limited to six (6) items in circulation at a given time.
Book Returns:  Books may be returned at any time in the book drops outside the building, however audio-visual materials and kits that are fragile should always be returned to the library’s circulation desks to prevent damage.
Obtaining Available Materials:
Holds:  Most items in circulation owned by the Great Barrington Libraries or other Massachusetts public libraries in the C/W MARS or Virtual Catalog systems may be reserved or placed on hold.  There is a limit of twenty holds per library card.

Interlibrary Loan:  Materials not owned by the Great Barrington Libraries or other libraries in the Massachusetts library network may often be borrowed or photocopied from the collection of another library.
Request for Purchase:  Great Barrington Libraries welcomes suggestions for purchase of materials not in the collection with the understanding that such requests are subject to the same selection criteria as materials considered for purchase.

Approved by the Board of Trustees April 12, 2012