Loan Policies and Handbook

The library has established a loan policy formally covering the responsibilities of the State Library of North Carolina Accessible Books and Library Services and its patrons. This loan policy has been approved by the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. It is provided for reference.

Policies and Procedures

Tab/Accordion Item

The following policies govern the circulation of books, magazines and equipment to eligible blind and/or print disabled readers registered with the State Library of North Carolina Accessible Books and Library Services (SLNC-ABLS). Eligible readers who borrow materials from the library accept responsibility for using materials with reasonable care, returning them to SLNC-ABLS according to the policies stated below, and not losing or damaging library materials or equipment through negligence. Violation of this policy can result in suspension of some or all library services.

Responsibilities

Braille books, recorded books, and large print books and specialized playback equipment will be loaned by this library to eligible registered readers without charge, and this library will keep records of all such loans. The borrower should notify the library of temporary or permanent changes of address or a desire to cancel the service.

Equipment

Equipment necessary to read the recorded materials may be borrowed on extended loan for as long as the borrower meets National Library Service eligibility requirements, and the borrower reads at least one book or magazine per year provided by the library. If either of these two conditions are not met, the equipment must be returned to the library.

It is the borrower's responsibility to ensure equipment is properly cared for and kept free of damaging substances or infestation. In the event that a machine ceases to function properly or needs repair, it should be returned to the library for repair and/or replacement. Under no circumstances should a borrower attempt to repair the playback equipment or accessories. When possible, the borrower should inform the library of the reason for any equipment return

Books

The loan period for books is six weeks. Borrowers are encouraged to return each book as they finish reading it, to ensure a smooth flow of books to the reader. To return a book, flip the mailing card over and reinsert it into the slot on the container. No fines for overdue books will be levied; however, borrowers are urged to observe the six week loan period, so books can be available for other readers.

A minimum and maximum number of books in each format (braille, audio, and large print) to be charged to the borrower at one time is determined by the library, based on the borrower's reading record and as desired by the borrower. The library reserves the right to limit readers' maximum number of books to ensure adequate service and collection availability for all patrons. A borrower's maximum number of books may be lowered by the library if books are not returned on time. Once a borrower reaches their maximum number of books, no additional books will be sent until books are returned. Borrowers should call the library to adjust their minimum and maximum number of books to meet the borrower's individual reading needs. Unless otherwise requested by the borrower, for each book returned in each format, a replacement book will be sent to the borrower. Borrowers may choose to receive only specific books they request.

Borrowers are urged to return each digital cartridge in its original container. Damaged items should be marked or reported to the library prior to returning the item. To mark a damaged cartridge, return it to the mailing container, and place a rubber band or string around the cartridge. Write "damaged" on the return mailing card.

Damaged braille or large print books should be reported to the library prior to returning the book. Patrons should call the library if they would like to receive a replacement copy for a damaged book.

Magazines

Magazines are provided to borrowers in two ways. Magazines which are mailed in containers bearing a return mailing card are circulated to multiple readers through this library. These magazines should be returned to the library by flipping the card over and reinserting it into the slot on the mailing container. The loan period for magazines bearing return mailing cards is two weeks. Other magazines are mailed to borrowers directly from the producers. These magazines will have no return card, only a borrower address label affixed to the container. These magazines should not be returned to the library.

The following policies govern the circulation of books, magazines and equipment to eligible blind and/or print disabled readers registered with the State Library of North Carolina Accessible Books and Library Services (SLNC-ABLS). Eligible readers who borrow materials from the library accept responsibility for using materials with reasonable care, returning them to SLNC-ABLS according to the policies stated below, and not losing or damaging library materials or equipment through negligence. Violation of this policy can result in suspension of some or all library services.

Responsibilities

Braille books, recorded books, large print books and specialized playback equipment will be loaned by this library without charge to registered institutions serving eligible readers, and this library will keep records of all such loans. The institution must have a designated staff member responsible for administering the deposit collection of equipment and other library materials. The institution should notify the library of changes of address or responsible party, or a desire to cancel the service.

Equipment

Equipment necessary to read the recorded materials may be borrowed by institutions on extended loan when there is sufficient stock to meet these requests, and as long as the institution serves eligible readers reading at least one book or magazine per year provided by the library. Otherwise, the equipment must be returned to the library.

It is the borrowing institution's responsibility to ensure equipment is properly cared for and kept free of damaging substances or infestation. In the event that a machine ceases to function properly or needs repair, it should be returned to the library for repair or replacement. Under no circumstances should a borrower attempt to repair the playback equipment or accessories. When possible, the borrower should inform the library of the reason for any equipment return.

Books

The loan period for books borrowed by institutions for deposit collections is three months. Borrowing institutions are encouraged to return each book as soon as it is no longer needed, to ensure a smooth flow of books to the institution. No fines for overdue books will be levied; however, borrowers are urged to observe the three month loan period, so books can be available for other readers.

Institution deposit collections of large print books will be limited to older titles in the library's collections. Institutions that, after offering large print deposit collection service, determine a specific individual, requires the full range of large print titles available from the library should submit an application for that reader.

A minimum and maximum number of books in each format (braille, audio and large print) to be charged to the borrower at one time is determined by the library, based on the number of people served, the rate if circulation, the availability of stock at the library, and as desired by the borrower. The library reserves the right to limit an institution's maximum number of books to ensure adequate service and collection availability for all patrons. Once a borrower reaches the maximum number of books, no additional books will be sent until books are returned. The responsible party at the institution should contact the library to adjust their minimum and maximum number of books to meet the borrower's reading needs. Unless otherwise requested by the borrower, for each book returned in each format, a replacement book will be sent to the borrower.

Borrowers are urged to return each cartridge in its original container. Damaged items should be marked or reported to the library prior to returning the item. To mark a damaged cartridge and place a rubber band around the cartridge. Damaged braille or large print books should be reported to the library prior to returning the book. The institution should notify the library if they would like to receive a replacement copy for a damaged book.

Magazines

Magazines are provided to borrowers in two ways. Magazines which are mailed in containers bearing a return mailing card are circulated to multiple readers through this library. These magazines should be returned to the library by flipping the card over and reinserting it into the slot on the mailing container. The loan period for magazines bearing return mailing cards is two weeks. Other magazines are mailed to borrowers directly from the producers. These magazines will have no return card, only a borrower address label affixed to the container. These magazines should be returned to the library.

Service to Individuals within an Institution

If, after offering deposit collection service, the institution identifies an individual whose reading needs are not met by the deposit collection and who is able to assume individual responsibility for library materials and equipment, the institution should submit an individual application for library service for that reader. Equipment and books loaned to readers served as individuals are assigned to the individual alone and must be returned to the library before being borrowed by others in the institution.

Other Information

Institutions may not lend library books, magazines, or equipment to persons other than those who meet the library's eligibility requirements. The institution will ensure that books, magazines, and equipment being returned to the library by free matter are delivered into the hands of the United States Postal Service by being placed in a mailbox or delivered to the the post office. No postage is needed to return any library materials ot equipment. All pre-printed library mailing cards and labels used to return materials are marked FREE MATTER FOR THE BLIND to allow free mailing.

Suspension

In the event of suspension, the following steps will be taken:

  1. The library will first discuss the problem noted with the designated institutional staff member by telephone or in person, then will send a warning letter which summarizes the discussion and the problem and provides an opportunity for reply.
  2. If service abuse recurs, a second written communication will be sent to the designated institutional staff member citing the earlier warning letter, listing examples of subsequent abuse, giving an opportunity to reply by a certain date, and then suspending the service for a stated period (up to 6 months). A specific date for resumption of service will be included in this letter.
  3. Once notified of service suspension, it will be the institution's responsibility to contact the library for resumption of service on or after the date specified in the suspension notice. Any further recurrences will result in another suspension of service as it relates to the documented abuse.

Any questions regarding library service or policies may be answered by calling the library on our toll-free number, 1-888-388-2460. You may also reach us in the following ways:

Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
State Library of North Carolina
Accessible Books and Library Services
1841 Capital Boulevard
Raleigh, North Carolina 27635
VOICE: (984)236-1100/a> (Raleigh area residents)
Toll-Free:
1-888-388-2460 (Nationwide)
FAX: (984) 236-1199
E-MAIL: ncabls@ncdcr.gov

The library's patron handbook is a guide to patron services, eligibility and responsibility. Every patron should read this document for more complete understanding of our services.

NLS Network Library Manual
9. Administrative Procedures
9.9 Loan Policies / Books and Equipment / Suspension of Service
 

Background

2 U.S.C. §§ 135a and 135b and 36 CFR § 701.6 provide authority to the Librarian of Congress to administer a national program of free library service to eligible blind and print disabled persons. The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) acquires library materials in formats usable to eligible readers and supplies these materials to cooperating libraries in the NLS network. These materials, while remaining the property of the federal government, are loaned without charge to eligible readers who register with a network library. Network libraries are responsible for:

  • ensuring that the NLS materials are properly accounted for, both while in the library and while on loan to eligible readers,
  • establishing loan and other service policies, including circumstances under which the service can be withdrawn, and
  • making these policies known to all registered borrowers.
     

Responsibilities of Borrowers
 

Eligible patrons who borrow NLS materials from network libraries accept responsibility for using materials with reasonable care, returning them to the lending agency according to established loan policies, and not losing or damaging them through negligence. Patrons may not lend NLS- or network-produced books, magazines, and equipment to non-eligible persons.
 

Network Libraries Requirement for Written Loan Policies
 

Each network library is required to have a written policy regarding loan of books and playback equipment that is approved by the library's administering agency and NLS and is provided in appropriate formats to every registered borrower. After developing such a policy, each network library should submit a copy of the draft to the NLS Patron and Network Engagement Network Division chief for approval. (See Section 10.5 for a sample loan policy.) Items to be addressed in a loan policy are:

1.    Books in all formats and equipment produced by NLS remain the property of the federal government. Books and magazines produced by network libraries are not federal property and are not subject to NLS policies; network libraries may establish separate policies regarding them as needed.

2.    Playback Equipment Loans. All equipment and accessories produced by NLS remain the property of the federal government. Playback equipment and accessories may be loaned to patrons for as long as they are eligible and as long as they actively use the equipment and accessories to read books and magazines produced by NLS or the network library. (Active use is defined as reading a minimum of one NLS- or network-produced book or magazine per year.) Equipment and accessories must be returned to the lending agency or NLS (whichever issued the items) for repair when necessary, in which case, a replacement will be issued. Repair of NLS equipment should not be undertaken by borrowers. Patrons should be instructed to notify the network library of changes of address, discontinuance of service, or transfer to another service area.

3.    Loan Periods for NLS and locally produced Books and Magazines. Books produced by NLS or network agencies shall be loaned for a stated period. NLS recommends up to six weeks per title to allow for postal delivery and pickup. (Network libraries have the discretion to permit longer loan periods in individual circumstances, but these should be requested specifically and justified by patrons, preferably in advance.) Network libraries may establish policies for loan of locally produced books and magazines circulated, as needed. Libraries may also establish a reasonable maximum number of books that can be loaned to readers at any one time. NLS agrees with a minimum of ten initially (to allow for books traveling to and from the patrons), but urges libraries to increase this maximum in individual cases when requested and justified by patrons. To accommodate individual needs, libraries must build into their circulation systems an allowance for exceptions to this maximum upon justification by readers.

4.    Subscriptions to NLS-Produced Magazines. There is no limit on the number of NLS-produced magazines that readers can select, and libraries should not establish such limits. Libraries may consider setting an initial quantity of magazine subscriptions for a new patron (for example, up to ten subscriptions initially) for the first few months until service has been established and patrons have a chance to become fully aware of the amount and frequency of materials to be received and returned through the program. However, limits on such suggested initial quantities of magazine subscriptions must be removed after a reasonable start-up period, e.g., up to six months.

5.    Overdue Loans. No fines may be levied for books or magazines returned after the loan period has expired. Libraries should notify borrowers periodically of any overdue books or magazines. If a regular pattern of overdue or lost books begins to emerge for an individual reader, libraries must begin to document the problem and initiate informal follow-up discussions with the reader to correct the problem.

6.    Definition of Service Abuse. Circumstances will vary in each case and network librarians may use their best judgement as to when a pattern of problems with a particular patron appears to be abuse of service. The following examples of abuse may lead to suspension of service by the network library depending on the individual circumstances:
 

  • repeated requests for replacement of equipment and accessories that have been damaged by negligence, maliciousness, or unauthorized repair
  • excessive numbers of overdue books or magazines
  • repeated loss or damage of books or magazines
  • repeated abusive verbal attacks or behavior toward network library staff that is offensive and threatening
     

Resolving Instances of Abuse
 

Ultimately, a patron may temporarily lose rights to library service if the library has documented a history of service abuse and has followed prescribed steps involving notification to the patron and opportunities for corrective action by the patron. Loss of service must be preceded by procedures allowing due process to the patron, so that network libraries do not deny library services unfairly. Safeguards to ensure due process by the network library include the points outlined in items 9.10.4.1 thru 9.10.4.6 given below.

1.    Each network library must have a clear, written statement of its loan policies; this policy must be provided to all its patrons.

2.    In cases of apparent abuse by a patron, an initial warning must be given verbally by phone, or in person, followed by a letter summarizing said abuse and informing the patron that he or she may be suspended for a specified period if the abuse continues. The letter must provide the patron with an opportunity to respond. A copy of this warning letter must be sent to the NLS network consultant and the NLS consumer relations officer.

3.    The proposed suspension must relate only to the type of service being abused. For example, if the abuse relates to equipment but not books, the patron may be required to return all NLS-produced equipment and accessories and to purchase equipment, but can still retain book and magazine borrowing privileges. Termination of book-borrowing privileges would not necessarily terminate direct-circulation magazine privileges. If the recurring offense is verbal abuse of network staff, the patron shall lose telephone privileges to the library and may be limited to written or third-person communications with the network library.

4.    If the abuse does in fact continue, the network librarian must issue a second formal warning in writing, citing the earlier written warning, listing specific examples of abuse, and informing the patron that abused services are being temporarily suspended for a specific period (up to six months, depending on the seriousness of the abuse). A specific date for service resumption must be given in this notification. Also in this letter, the patron must be given the opportunity to respond in writing to the library to show cause or explain the reasons why his or her service should not be suspended by the specified date. A draft copy of this suspension letter must be approved in advance by the NLS Patron and Network Engagement Division chief. A copy of the final approved letter must be sent to the NLS network consultant, the NLS consumer relations officer, and the library’s administering agency director.

5.    After the suspension period, service must be resumed and the patron notified in writing of the resumption with a statement that further abuse will result in subsequent suspension of the services related to the abuse.

6.    If the abuse continues, the library may suspend the patron again from the type of services previously abused with the approval of the NLS director. Notification of suspension(s) must also be given to the patron in writing, documenting again the history of abuse, previous warning letters, and the period of suspension, following the same procedures outlined above. Although a patron’s service cannot be cancelled permanently, a temporary suspension of up to six months can be applied each time an abuse occurs after the initial suspension period, following the procedures outlined above.

Network Division Office
Last updated 2021

For more information, network librarians should contact their network consultant.