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Borrowing Materials

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You may check out up to 50 items* at a time with your NYPL Card, including a maximum of 10 DVDs.

Library materials may be borrowed for the following lengths of time:

Material Type Loan Period
Books, Book/Recording Sets, Recorded Books, Pamphlets, CDs, Periodicals, Picture Collection Materials, Scores, Librettos, Interlibrary Loan (ILL) Material 3 weeks
New Books 2 weeks
eNYPL items Varies. See eNYPL site for details.
Express Books 1 week

DVDs, VHS, VCDs, CD-ROMs

1 week
DVD Express 4 days
Reserve Films (LPA) 60-90 minutes
(in-library only)
Wireless Laptops

45 minutes
(in-library only)

Research Library Materials 1 day
(in-library only)
Scholar Materials Consult the appropriate division

You are responsible for returning borrowed items on time, and for any fines and fees associated with overdue or non-returned items.  A receipt indicating the date due is issued with every item you borrow.

Please note that your Library card alone does not allow access to certain Special Collections; check with the appropriate division for details.

*Educator Borrowers may checkout up to 100 items.

How do I request Library materials?

Using The Library’s online catalog, you may request up to 15* circulating items at a time to be delivered to the Library location of your choice.  You may also place requests with the assistance of a Library staff member. 

Only certain circulating items in the catalog may be requested.*  If you see the Place Hold option next to an item you are interested in that is not available at your neighborhood library, click Place Hold and enter your library card number and PIN.  On the next screen, select your preferred pickup location from the drop-down menu.  If you need the item by a certain date, you may also enter a Cancel If Not Filled By date.  Otherwise, your request will remain active for one year, or until filled.

All requests for Library materials are on a first come, first served basis and are subject to availability.

Using your Library account, you may cancel requests or change the selected pickup location until the item has been routed to the pickup location.

Once you receive notification that your items are available, you have 7 days to pick them up before they are returned to circulation. Please collect all items being held for you at once.**

Library materials stored off-site and viewable only in designated Research Libraries may be requested through The Library’s catalog.  Learn more about access to off-site materials.

*Holds cannot be placed on Book Express and DVD Express titles, CD Express titles, videogames,  or items that are non-circulating, such as reference materials.

**The library card used to request the item must be the same card used to check out the item.  In order to allow for a family member or other proxy borrower to check out library materials requested by another, both parties must agree to it in person at a library location. An explanatory note will be placed on the records by library staff and they will be linked.   Note that this applies only to active requests and not additional checkouts or other use of the card.

Materials in our Research Libraries may be requested for on-site use only.

*Eligible Educator Borrowers may request up to 50 items at a time.

How do I renew Library materials?

Items that have not been requested by another borrower and have not exceeded the maximum number of renewals become eligible for renewal 2 days into the current loan period.  You may renew circulating items up to 10 times.* 

Note that borrowers remain responsible for any fines that may accumulate before an overdue item is renewed.   The Library cannot consider an item as having successfully been renewed if we have no record of the transaction. If any of the following renewal outlets are temporarily out of service, patrons are expected to renew via another listed method.

We recommend that borrowers do not wait until the last minute before renewing an item, in the event it cannot be renewed.

As long as your account is in good standing, eligible materials may be renewed:

  • Online
  • In person
  • Through Self-Service Checkout
  • Via The Library’s Automated Telephone Renewal Service: (212) 262-7444
  • Via a call to your neighborhood library

Note that online & telephone renewal is not available during the off-peak hours of 1:00 a.m. - 3:00 a.m. EST due to required system backups.

When are materials considered late?

All Library materials must be returned on or before their due date.  Initial due dates are listed on receipts received at checkout.  Due dates extended through the renewal of eligible materials are available by accessing your Library account for renewals performed online or by phone or through new receipts issued for in-person or self-service checkout transactions.

Overdue materials may be subject to late fines.  

The Library offers courtesy alerts to cardholders who have provided a valid e-mail address on their patron record.  These alerts are sent by e-mail as an item approaches its due date for the original checkout.  Subsequent courtesy notices will not be sent out for items that have been renewed.  Failure to receive a courtesy alert does not resolve the borrower from any overdue fines that may accumulate.  Therefore, it is important that patrons take note of an item's due date on the receipt issued at the point of checkout, or when the item is renewed online or by telephone.

Borrowing privileges are suspended for users who have been sent a second overdue notice for any currently checked out item. A second overdue notice is sent approximately 2 weeks after an item becomes overdue.

Where can I return Library materials?

The Library offers universal returns; most circulating material can be returned to any New York Public Library location in the Bronx, Manhattan or Staten Island, except the Schomburg Center. Likewise, pickup of holds and payment of fines and fees may take place at any Library location with the exception of Schomburg.

The Library also offers a number of convenient book drops, many of which are available 24 hours.

I think I have returned an item, but it's still attached to my record?

Patrons are responsible for any library materials borrowed on their card until they are checked in at a New York Public Library location and cleared from their list of checked out items.  If you believe you have returned an item, you must call or visit The Library to claim it returned.  To expedite the process, it is strongly suggested that you visit the Library from which you borrowed the item and request staff check the shelves for it. 

If the item is not found, you will have until the end of The Library's billing cycle to locate it and return it before a replacement charge is applied to your record.  Until the item is found or replacement charges are paid, you will continue to receive overdue notices and the item will appear on your record with its status changed to that of a Claimed Returned/Disputed Item.  This status will also be applied in cases where an item appears on your record that you do not recall checking out and the same notice and billing cycle apply.

The surest way to know that an item is no longer checked out to you is to request a return receipt at check-in.

Downloading from our digital collections

Cardholders have access to downloadable books, movies and music through eNYPL and other digital collections.  For additional information, visit eBooks, Music and Video.

Accessing Library databases

The New York Public Library offers access to many electronic databases on a variety of topics from the arts and humanities to science and technology available both in The Library and at home.  Many of these databases include full-text articles, audio and video content, and resources in languages other than English.

Please note that many databases that can be accessed from outside the Library will still require you to enter your Library card number and PIN.

*Effective September 1, 2010

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