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Circulation Policy

Eligibility for a Library Card

Individual borrower's card

A library card for the Library System of Lancaster County will be issued without charge to any resident of Lancaster County who is five years old or more.

Library patrons who live outside Lancaster County are encouraged to go to the Pennsylvania library that serves their home area and apply for a card. The card should have a blue Pa Access sticker. With this Pa Access sticker a Library System of Lancaster County library card is free. For library patrons who live outside Lancaster County and do not have a Pennsylvania library card with the Pa Access sticker, a Library System of Lancaster County library card is $25.00 for three years.

Applicants or parents of applicants will need to produce proof of address using the list below.

A child under 14 years of age must have the library card application form signed by a parent or legal guardian who agrees to assume responsibility for the child’s fines and cost of any lost or damaged materials as well as monitoring the materials borrowed by the child.

Proof of residence will include:

  1. a valid driver’s license
  2. a current identification card
  3. a bill from a utility company or retailer addressed to the person and dated in the last three months
  4. a tax bill for a Lancaster County property
  5. working papers issued to a teenager
  6. a copy of a current lease or deed for a Lancaster County property
  7. checks with a pre-printed Lancaster County address
  8. valid Lancaster County college/university ID

Institutional card

An institutional library card is issued to a Lancaster County organization that assumes responsibility for all borrowed materials. The application must be accompanied by a letter on the letterhead of the organization applying for a card. This letter must state the organization’s acceptance of responsibility for all borrowed materials and must be signed by the director of the organization.

Fines will be incurred for any materials not returned by the due date.

Special loan periods can be arranged upon request.

Use of the Library Card

A library card for the Library System of Lancaster County may be used at any public library that is a member of the Library System of Lancaster County.

Borrowing privileges may be suspended for the failure to return overdue books, failure to pay overdue fines, or failure to pay for lost or damaged materials. See specifics lists below. The library will prosecute to the extent of the law permitted under the Retention of Library Property Act (Section 6708, Title 18 PA Code (PA CSA 6708) and the Library Theft Act of 1982.

Library patrons are responsible for notifying any member library about the change of address within 30 days.

A lost or stolen library card can be replaced for $1.00


When checking out materials patrons must have either their library card or picture identification, such as a driver’s license or school ID.

Patron Registration

The following information will be taken as part of patron registration:

  • Municipality of residence
  • Library of registration
  • School district

The following shall be requested at the time of registration, but will be optional on the part of the patron:

  • Birth date (required for minors)
  • Gender
  • Race
  • E-mail address
  • Home or public school education
  • Languages spoken at home other than English

Circulation Periods

Circulation of library materials will be as follows:

  • Videos, DVDs, high demand items, and best sellers circulate 1 week (best sellers of 400+ pages will circulate for 2 weeks.)
  • All other materials circulate 2 weeks.


  • Patrons are limited to checking out 5 DVDs per visit and 10 VHSs per visit.

Renewal of Library Materials

Renewal can be done at a member library circulation desk, by telephone or online.

  • Renewal at a member library circulation desk requires the library card on which the items were checked out.
  • 24-Hour Telephone renewal can be done by calling (717) 394-1721.
  • Items that are reserved for use by another patron cannot be renewed.
  • Internet Renewal is available from the Library System of Lancaster County Online Catalog. Just click on the My Account tab on any page of the Catalog and input your name, barcode and PIN. Note: Not all items can be renewed with the online renewal system. Some reasons an item may not be renewed are: another borrower has requested the item; that type of material is not eligible for renewal; you already renewed the item the maximum number of times; or, because of overdue fines on your record. If you are unable to renew your items, please call your local library.

Fines and Fees

Fees for overdue library materials will be as follows:

  • $0.30 per day for Adult and Young Adult materials with a maximum fine of $5.10 per item
  • $0.20 a day for Children’s materials with a maximum fine of $3.00 per item
  • $1.00 a day for all videos and DVDs with a maximum fine of $5.00 per item

Overdue Notices

Courtesy Email Notice

Patrons with an email address listed in their library account will receive an email two days before an item is due back to the library. The courtesy email reminders will allow patrons the chance to renew materials or to return them, so fines can be avoided. Please note: failure to receive a courtesy email reminder of the due date does not waive the library’s right to apply fines.

First Notice at 2 Weeks

The first overdue notice will be sent to the email address listed in the library records for the patron account when the item is 2 weeks overdue. If an email address is not listed in the patron’s library account, the first overdue notice will be sent to the most recent address listed in the library records for the patron account when the item is 2 weeks overdue. The notice will include a list of overdue materials.

Failure to return the items listed in this notice within seven (7) working days of the date of this notice will result in a suspension of a cardholder's borrowing privileges in each library in Lancaster County until the account is cleared.

Failure to return these items within 4 weeks after the original due date will result in a charge to the cardholder's account for the replacement cost of the materials.

Second Notice: Bill for replacement at 4 weeks

The second notice is sent when the item is 4 weeks overdue. This is a bill for the replacement of the books. If the billed items are found, you need only pay the overdue fines.

Lost and Damaged Items

Charges for items that are lost or damaged will equal the list/retail price of the item.

Member libraries can arrange an installment payment plan. It is the responsibility of the library patron to contact the library to arrange for the payment of fines and fees.

Fine/fee Collection

Library patrons or the parents of juvenile library patrons are expected to return library materials promptly and to pay any fines incurred.

  1. Status of borrowing privileges if the patron has outstanding account balance.
    1. If an item is more than 14 days overdue, borrowing privileges are suspended until the materials are returned and the fine is paid.
    2. If a patron’s account totals more than $6.00, borrowing privileges are suspended unless:
      • the patron is paying through an approved installment plan. Information on this plan will be entered into the patron record. It will be removed upon final payment.
      • there are exceptions noted on the patron’s record.
  2. Notations to a patron record will be eliminated when his/her account is settled.

  3. Claims returned

On occasion a library patron reports to the library that an overdue notice has been sent in error, and the items have already been returned. This is referred to as a "claims returned" response.

The library will accept a patron’s claimed returned response five times. Each instance will be noted in the patron’s account.

After five (5) instances, the library will assume that there is a possibility of false reports of “claims returned.” The most recent “claims returned” items will be considered overdue on the patron’s account. The patron will be expected to return the items or reimburse the library for the lost materials according to the fee schedule listed. Failure to pay for lost books will result in suspended library privileges until the account is settled.


Pennsylvania State Law states that:
"Records related to the circulation of the library materials which contain the names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of the state Library or any local library which is established or maintained under any law of the Commonwealth or the library of a university, college or educational institution chartered by the Commonwealth or the library of any public school or branch reading room, deposit station or agency operated in connection therewith, shall be confidential and shall not be made available to anyone except by a court order in a criminal proceeding." (24 P.S. Section 4428.)

The Library System of Lancaster County and member libraries will resist the issuance or enforcement of any such process, order, or subpoena until such time as a proper showing of good cause has been made in a court of competent jurisdiction. Upon receipt of such process, order, or subpoena, library officers will consult with their legal counsel to determine if such process, order, or subpoena is in proper form and if there is a showing of good cause for its issuance. If the process, order, or subpoena is not in the proper form or if good cause has not been shown, they will insist that such defects be cured.

This confidentiality policy applies equally to adults and minors. When an adult requests the records of a child, the library will respond only if the child consents to the request.

Staff may respond to telephone requests for information about materials checked out to patron accounts (adult or child) if the caller has the barcode number on the library card.



When picking up an item placed on hold and ready for pickup, patrons must present the library card on which the reserve was placed. This includes holds on items for family members. A hold on an item cannot be removed to allow someone else to check out items.

Adopted 4/22/2003 by the Library System of Lancaster County
Amended 1/1/2005
Addendum added by Ephrata Public Library 9/24/2008

This page was last modified on March 18 2011