CIRCULATION POLICY

I. INTRODUCTION

The policy statements contained herein are established by the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court in order to ensure that the Fort Bend County Libraries circulation policy is applied consistently throughout the library system. The policy provides guidance to all library staff and relevant volunteers in implementing the circulation of library materials on behalf of the Commissioners Court. Ultimate responsibility for circulation in Fort Bend County Libraries lies with the County Librarian, who is responsible for operating within the policies and procedures established by the Commissioners Court.

The Fort Bend County Libraries mission is to provide an environment of lifelong learning and enrichment for the entire, diverse community, through responsive service and access to timely and accurate resources.

In order to provide for the efficient and equitable circulation of materials, the library sets the following policy regarding borrower eligibility, confidentiality of library records, privileges and responsibilities, limits on the number of items that can be borrowed, renewals, items on hold, interlibrary loan, overdue-materials charges, and damaged and lost charges.  

II. CONFIDENTIALITY OF PATRON RECORDS

A. It is the policy of Fort Bend County Libraries, and state law, that all
    circulation records and other records identifying the names of library users
    and their transactions with the library remain confidential. These records
    include, but are not limited to, the following: personal names, addresses,
    phone numbers, and email addresses; items in circulation, reserved and/or
    previously consulted; library accounts denoting outstanding fines, fees,
    and items lost; computer-use records; database-searching records;
    interlibrary loan requests; and reference requests. Library staff and
    volunteers must protect each user’s right to privacy regarding materials
    used and information sought.
B. Individual library cardholders may choose to release their library barcode
    number to others and, in this way, determine their own degree of privacy.1
    In order to support an individual’s choice, access to the account or to
    information associated with a valid Fort Bend County library card will be
    released to a person other than the cardholder only under the following
    circumstances.

1) Information will be released to a person other than the
    cardholder upon presentment of the account-holder’s library
    card and valid identification in person to a library staff
    member. The person requesting the information may be
    asked to provide personal information about the borrower,
    such as address, phone number, and date of birth, in order to
    confirm the validity of the request for information.
2) Without a library card, information will be released to
    someone who is designated by name as an authorized agent
    of the cardholder on the library-card account and who
    presents his/her (the agent's) own photo identification (valid
    Texas driver's license or government-issued photo
    identification).
3) Information will be released to a parent/guardian listed on
    the relevant library card with presentation of his/her (the
    parent/guardian’s) own photo identification (valid Texas
    driver's license or government-issued photo identification).
4) Information about charges due will be released with
    presentation of a library notice (mailer). A library notice
    cannot be used in lieu of a library card, driver's license, or
    government-issued identification for the purpose of checking
    out materials.

C. A person attempting to verify a personal identification number (PIN) in
    person must provide the relevant library card or photo identification (valid
    Texas driver's license or government-issued photo identification), and may
    be required to give the cardholder’s name and date of birth.
D. A person attempting to verify a PIN by email or by telephone must provide
    the cardholder’s name, library barcode number, and date of birth in order
    to receive the information.
E. A relevant library barcode number and a PIN number are required in order
    to access a personal account on the online library catalog.
F. A person requesting action to be performed on specific titles by email or
    Telephone must provide his/her name, library barcode number, and date of
    birth.    

III. A BORROWER’S RESPONSIBILITY  

A. By signing a library card, an individual who applies for a library card accepts
    full responsibility for the use and return of all library materials borrowed
    under the account. As a borrower, the individual whose signature is on a
    card will be charged fees by Fort Bend County Libraries for any items that
    are damaged during their use by the cardholder, returned with missing
    pieces, or lost. If a library card is lost or stolen, the cardholder must
    immediately inform the library. Materials checked out on a lost or stolen
    library card are the responsibility of the cardholder until proper notice is
    received that the card is lost.
B. Fort Bend County Libraries reserves the right to deny or limit borrowing
    privileges to anyone who repeatedly violates the library’s circulation policy
    and procedures and fails to take appropriate measures for lost or
    damaged library materials.

IV. OBTAINING A LIBRARY CARD  

A. Applicants residing in the State of Texas
    Any resident of the State of Texas may apply for a Fort Bend County library
    card at no charge. A resident must apply in person and present photo
    identification, including but not limited to, a valid Texas driver’s license, or a
    government-issued photo identification and proof of current residence.
    Proof-of-residence identification must contain the applicant's name and
    current street address.
B. Applicants under age 18
    Applicants under age 18, who reside in Texas, must have the application
    signed by a parent or legal guardian, who must be present and must show
    proof of residence and photo identification. Proof-of-residence identification
    must show the applicant’s name and current street address; for example,
    a utility bill, an auto-insurance document, a personalized check or bank
    statement, etc. While anyone may use the library’s resources, patrons
    must provide all required information to obtain a library card.
    Parents may obtain library cards for all of their children, even those not
    present. On the application, the parent may list another adult(s) who may
    also have access to this account. The original parent applicant listed on the
    library account may add other names at a later date. The names listed as
    guardians may have access to all information concerning this account, upon
    presentment of a valid Texas driver’s license or government-issued photo
    identification.
    Because the concept of family has changed, children may reside with
    grandparents, other relatives, friends, or in group homes. For library-card
    registration purposes, the adults responsible for a child’s care may be
    considered that child’s guardian. The adult applicant is financially
    responsible for all library materials checked out on the card. If guardianship
    for a child changes, a new card will be issued to the guardian, who must
    reside in Texas, sign the new application, show proof of residence, and
    photo identification, as with application of any new card. The new guardian
    will be financially responsible for all library materials checked out on the
    card.
    Residents who are under age 18 but declare that they are emancipated
    children because of marriage or military service may obtain a library card by
    presenting photo identification and proof of residence.
C. Applicants residing in group homes
    Applicants (adult or children) who reside in a group home may obtain a Fort
    Bend County library card. A representative of the group home may provide
    a letter to the library on organization letterhead stating that the individual
    is a resident of that group home. In some cases, the applicant may provide
    the letter on organization letterhead, because he/she is living
    independently. Library cards given to residents of group homes are valid
    for six months and the borrowing privileges are limited to a total of five
    items checked out at any one time. In order to renew the library card,
    proof of residence must again be verified by a representative of the facility
    or by a letter from the group home. The group home is responsible for all
    items checked out and for all fines/fees on the library card.
D . Applicants residing in shelters
    Applicants or children who reside in a shelter may obtain a Fort Bend
    County library card. The individual may bring in a letter on the shelter’s
    letterhead stating that they are a resident of that shelter. These library
    cards are valid for three months. Borrowing privileges are limited to a total
    of five items checked out at any one time and two holds per library card. In
    order to renew the library card after three months, proof of residence at
    the facility must again be verified. The card holder must bring in a letter
    from the shelter, on the shelter’s letterhead, stating that he/she is still a
    resident there. The individual is responsible for all items checked out and
    any fines/fees on the library card account.  
E. Individuals who are homebound
    Homebound applicants may obtain a Fort Bend County library card by
    contacting a branch library via telephone and requesting an application by
    mail. The application will allow the applicant to designate an authorized
    agent to check out library materials on his/her behalf. The authorized
    agent returns the completed application to the library in person and
    presents proof of the applicant's address and his/her (the agent's) own
    photo identification. The library card is valid for two years and has the
    standard borrowing privileges and responsibilities. Upon renewal, the
    authorized agent must complete the above process. The authorized agent
    must present the applicant’s library card each time library materials are
    checked out. The applicant may change the authorized agent on the library
    card at any time by notifying the library in writing of this change. The
    applicant is responsible for returning library materials and for any fines or
    fees that may occur.
F. Cards for corporations, outreach sites, and other organizations.
    Fort Bend County library cards may be obtained by corporations, outreach
    sites, and organizations in Fort Bend County. The library card will be issued
    in the name of the corporation or other organizations. One employee will
    be designated by the corporation to use that library card. The corporation
    or other organization or outreach site is responsible for all items borrowed
    and for any charges for overdue items, missing, damaged or lost library
    materials. A designated employee of the corporation or other organization
    or outreach site must apply in person and must have a letter from its
    administrative offices, on company letterhead, stating that he/she is the
    borrower for the library card. The designated employee must also show
    photo identification when the library card is issued and again at renewal.
    Only one (1) Fort Bend County library card will be given to a Fort Bend
    County corporation or other organization or outreach site. The library card
    must be renewed annually by following the above process again. The
    employee designated to use the library card may be changed at any time,
    if a new letter is presented from the corporation or organization or
    outreach site.
G. Applicants who reside out-of-state
    Out-of-state residents may obtain a Fort Bend County library card upon
    paying an annual fee (see attached fee schedule). Application must be
    made in person by providing photo identification and proof of current
    residence. Non-resident library cardholders are subject to the same
    responsibilities and privileges as residents of the State of Texas.

V. RENEWAL AND/OR REPLACEMENT OF LIBRARY CARDS  

A. Renewal of library cards
    The standard registration period for library cards is two years, but the
    period may vary according to the card type or borrower type. Renewals
    must be made in person by presenting the library card, a valid Texas
    driver’s license or government-issued photo identification and proof of
    residence. Library cards for children under the age of 18 may be renewed
    by the child’s parent or guardian upon presentment of the library card,
    proof of residence, and photo identification of the parent or guardian.  
B. Replacement of lost or stolen library cards
    Lost or stolen Fort Bend County library cards must be reported to the
    library immediately, to prevent others from charging materials to the
    account. When the patron reports the lost card, the patron account will
    reflect a lost card status which will prevent the library card to be used by
    anyone but the cardholder. The cardholder is responsible for all fines and
    fees that may accrue on the account until the library receives notice that
    the card is lost. The cardholder will be charged for a replacement of the
    lost, stolen or damaged library card (see attached fee schedule).  

VI. UPDATING LIBRARY CARD INFORMATION  

A. Change of status at age 18
    Patrons updating a library card upon turning 18, or at the next renewal of
    his/her library card, may be issued a new card, even if fines/fees have
    accrued on the old card while the cardholder was a minor. The issuance of
    a new card allows the 18-year-old to have a clear history on his/her new
    library record. The standard identification and proof of residence must be
    presented to obtain the new card. The fines/fees due on the original card
    remain the responsibility of the parent or guardian who is listed on that
    patron record. If an 18-year-old wants to pay the fines/fees accrued on the
    earlier account, he/she may do so, although it is not required.
B. Name change
    If a patron changes his/her name, he/she must update his/her patron
    record. An adult must bring in his/her library card, photo identification and
    a document that shows his/her new name, such as a bank statement, a
    utility bill, or an updated Texas driver’s license, etc. For children under the
    age of 18, the parent or guardian listed on the account must update the
    account in person and present his/her own photo identification. Upon the
    parent/guardian’s declaration that the child’s name has been changed,
    library staff will update the child’s library record.
C. Change of address
    It is important that a patron’s record be accurate and that all pertinent
    information be up-to-date. Because the library may need to communicate
    with a cardholder by mail, telephone or email, a patron shall provide notice
    of changes needed to that account. To make an address change on his/her
    library record, a patron must be present at the library, have his/her library
    card or photo identification, and have proof of the new address; e.g., a
    bank statement, a utility bill, or an updated Texas driver’s license. If the
    adult is listed as a parent or guardian on any other accounts, he/she may
    make changes on the child's library records at the same time.
    Children under the age of 18 may change the address on their own library
    card, if they present their library card in person.
D. Change of telephone number or email address
    To update a telephone number or email address in person, a patron may
    come to the library and present their library card or a valid Texas driver’s
    license or government-issued photo identification. To update by email or
    telephone, a patron must provide the correct name, library barcode
    number, and date of birth on the library account.

VII. TEXSHARE CARDS  

Fort Bend County Libraries is a participant in a cooperative program, TexShare, instituted by the State of Texas to improve library service to Texans. Fort Bend County Libraries may issue TexShare cards only to the residents of Fort Bend County. The TexShare cards allow our residents to use all academic and public libraries in Texas that are participants in the TexShare program. To obtain a TexShare card from Fort Bend County Libraries, a patron must be a Fort Bend County resident and a Fort Bend County Libraries registered cardholder in good standing, without overdue items, fines or fees. The patron must present his/her Fort Bend County library card and photo identification. TexShare applicants under age 18 must have a parent or legal guardian sign the application, present a photo identification, including but not limited to, a valid Texas driver’s license, a government-issued photo identification , and proof of current residence. Other Fort Bend County Libraries cardholders who do not reside in Fort Bend County must obtain a TexShare card from the library located in the county or city where they reside.

As a participating member in the TexShare program, Fort Bend County Libraries will issue a Fort Bend County library card to an individual who presents a valid TexShare card that was issued from another participating Texas library. If the person presenting the TexShare card is a Texas resident, he/she will be issued a regular Fort Bend County library card. If the person presenting the TexShare card is not a Texas resident— for example, a college student from another state—he/she will be issued a Fort Bend County library card that is valid for one year and is limited to 10 items checked out at any one time. The individual must present photo identification and proof of residency before receiving the Fort Bend County Libraries card.  

VIII. BORROWING LIBRARY MATERIALS  

A. Checkout of library materials
    A patron who is 18 or older must present a valid Fort Bend County library
    card or his/her Texas driver’s license or a government-issued photo
    identification in order to check out library materials. A patron under the age
    of 18 who has a Texas driver's license may use his/her valid library card or
    their driver’s license to check out library materials.
    Borrowers may have a two-part library card that includes both a full-size
    card and a smaller, identical, key-tag card. Borrowers often choose to give
    the smaller card to another member of their family or other designated
    individual who may check out items for them with the smaller card.
    Cardholders may also give their valid library card to another individual who
    can check out materials by presenting the card at check-out. In some
    branches, and at George Memorial, anyone may choose to use a valid
    library card and check out materials at the self-check machine.
    A valid library card is one that has not expired and has no more than the
    maximum allowed in accrued fines or fees (see attached fee schedule). All
    library materials may be checked out for three weeks (21 days) and may
    be renewed once for another three weeks, if the item is not requested by
    another patron. There are no limits on the quantity of books and
    audiovisual items that may be borrowed; however, Story Kits and Toy Kits
    are limited to three of each per library card.
    The library staff will examine each library item for inclusion of all pieces and
    for any damage before it is checked out. If an item is excessively worn, to
    be solely determined by library staff, or in any way damaged, it will not be
    checked out. All items returned to the library are checked for all pieces and
    damage before the item(s) is cleared from the patron’s library account. The
    library staff will contact the patron if the item(s) is damaged or if there are
    missing pieces. The patron is responsible for all fees for missing, damaged
    or lost items that are checked out on his/her library card. The patron is
    responsible for inspection of all materials before checkout.
B. Fines and fees
    As a courtesy, the library will notify a library cardholder of overdue item(s)
    on his/her account. The library will contact the cardholder three times
    through an automated phone service or by email. If item(s) are not
    returned within the designated borrowing period, applicable fees will be
    assessed to the cardholder’s account. Failure of the cardholder to receive
    any phone calls, email notices or library mailers for any reason does not
    eliminate the library cardholder’s responsibility for all fines and fees
    accrued to his/her account.
C. Lost or damaged materials
    The library cardholder is responsible for all fines and fees on his/her library
    account. Charges for overdue items accrue at a set rate per day per item
    (see attached fee schedule). Library materials that are lost or damaged
    are the responsibility of the cardholder. The cardholder is responsible for
    the both the cost of the item and a processing fee (see attached fee
    schedule). Fort Bend County Libraries does not accept replacement items
    in lieu of payment for lost items. Borrowing privileges are suspended until
    the lost/damaged matter is resolved and the library record is clear.
    Overdue fines are not charged when a patron pays for a lost item;
    however, overdue fines are charged to the patron if the lost item is found
    before the lost fee is paid. See the attached fee schedule for the maximum
    overdue fine.
    Anyone may settle unpaid fines or fees on a library card, but without
    presentation of the library card, only the amount of the fines and fees may
    be discussed. Information about the authors, titles, or subjects of the
    overdue, lost or damaged materials will not be discussed without
    presentation of the library card.
D. Refunds and credits
    Lost or damaged library materials are the responsibility of the last patron
    who checked them out. That patron is responsible for the full cost of the
    item and for a processing fee (see attached fee schedule). A patron may
    obtain a refund on a payment made for lost item if the item is returned in
    good condition to the library within one year from date of payment; the
    patron will receive a refund for the cost of the item but not for the
    processing fee. If the item is returned to the library system after the one-
    year period, or the patron does not come in to claim their refund within the
    one-year period, then the amount on the account becomes a credit that
    can be used for any current or future fines/fees on their account. A library
    cardholder may choose to use that account credit for payment on another
    library cardholder’s account. The library cardholder with the credit must be
    present in the library to authorize the use of the credit on another patron’s
    account.
E. Claims Returned items
    “Claims Returned” is a process by which a patron may attempt to resolve a
    claim that overdue or lost items have been returned to the library. Once an
    item is changed to “Claims Returned” status on a patron account, every
    library location will search for the item on a monthly basis, for six (6)
    months. The patron will also be asked to continue to search for the item. A
    patron may request to have one or more items placed in Claims Returned
    status at one time; however, in order to prevent patrons from repeatedly
    placing items in claims returned status, additional library materials may not
    be placed in Claims Returned status at a later time until the item(s) in the
    first Claims Returned status have been resolved.2
    If the Claims Returned item is found and returned by the patron, overdue
    fines will be assessed to the library card account not to exceed the
    maximum overdue fee (see attached fee schedule). If six (6) months pass
    and the item is still in Claims Returned status, it will be declared “Lost,”
    and applicable charges will be assessed. The patron is then responsible for
    all assessed charges.  

IX. HOLDS ON LIBRARY MATERIALS

Patrons may request a specific item(s) to be placed on hold to be picked-up at one of the library locations. Patrons may have no more than ten (10) holds on materials in the library system at any one time. Library materials that are on hold may be retrieved and checked out by the patron who placed the hold or by the authorized agent listed on their library record, such as a parent or guardian.

Borrowers may have a two-part library card that includes both a full-size card and an identical, smaller, key-tag card. Borrowers often choose to give the smaller card to another member of their family or other designated individual who may retrieve and check out held items for them. Cardholders may also give their valid library card to another individual who can retrieve their holds and check out materials by presenting the card at checkout or by using the self-check machine.

A person without the library card of the person placing the hold can retrieve a held item by providing the title(s) on hold and personal information as listed on the account of the person who placed the hold, including name of the cardholder, address, phone number, and date of birth.

For confidentiality, hold items that are in public areas will display the first three letters of the patron’s first and last names. The items will be covered with paper so that the title of the hold item cannot be identified.

X. INTERLIBRARY LOANS

Interlibrary loan ( ILL) is a service that allows Fort Bend County Library patrons to borrow materials that are not owned by our library system from other public, academic or special libraries throughout Texas, the United States , and other countries. Patrons using this service must have a valid Fort Bend County library card account. The library card account may not include fines/fees exceeding the maximum overdue checkout limit (see attached fee schedule). The borrowing patron is responsible for an ILL postage charge (see attached fee schedule), whether or not he/she checks out the item after it has been received from the lending library. Some lending libraries may require additional charges for borrowing or photocopying materials, and that cost is the patron’s responsibility. The loan period and any limits concerning renewals are set by the lending library, and may vary by institution. Fort Bend County Library patrons are responsible for all costs for lost or damaged interlibrary-loan materials.

1Borrowers may receive a two-part library card that includes both a full-size card and
  a smaller, identical, key-tag card. Borrowers often choose to give the smaller card to
  another member of their family, or other designated individual, who may check out
  items or pick up holds for them with the small card. The library makes a distinction
  between a direct, specific request for information regarding a borrower's account
  (e.g., address and date of birth) and a situation in which one person checks out items
  using another borrower's card or retrieves a held item for them.

2 Patrons who repeatedly place items in "claims returned" status may be abusing the
  system by not returning their books on time over and over.

Approved by Commissioners Court November 7, 2006

FEE SCHEDULE
 
Overdue fee $ .10 per day per item
Accrued fee checkout limit $5.00
Maximum overdue fee

$10.00

Library card replacement $2.00
Processing fee $5.00
Damaged or Lost item Cost of item & processing fee
Non-resident library card

$15.00

Insufficient funds/return check fee

$30.00

Talking books replacement disc $7.00 per disc
Talking books replacement cassette $6.00 per cassette
Interlibrary loan postage $1.50 per item
Damaged/lost item barcode $1.00
Case for video, DVD, CD or CD-ROM $2.00
Case for a Talking Book $5.00
Jacket cover (video, DVD, Talking books) $3.00 (includes barcode)
Back jacket cover from CD or CD-ROM $1.00 (includes barcode)
Story kit puppets

$12.50

Story kit book $12.50
Story kit bag

$4.00

Toy kit puzzle piece $2.00 per piece
Toy kit bag $4.00
11/06