RECIPROCAL BORROWING PROGRAM
Please note: Maine State Library has temporarily suspended the Maine Reciprocal Borrowing Program due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will post further updates regarding the pilot program as we receive them.
Your Library Card Just. Got. Better.
What is the Maine Reciprocal Borrowing Program?
The Maine Reciprocal Borrowing Program strengthens library resource sharing across Maine.
This program allows anyone with a valid library card from one of 68 participating libraries to visit any of the other participating libraries and check out materials in person. It’s referred to as “walk-in” borrowing because it essentially turns your local library card into a “statewide” library card!
Not all libraries in Maine are eligible to participate at this time because the computer systems currently required to allow participation are not used by all libraries. The Maine State Library and Maine InfoNet are continuously seeking ways to increase participation by finding solutions that eliminate these systematic and technical barriers.
Can I "walk in" to any of the participating libraries and borrow any item I'd like?
In most cases, yes. Think of this program like the interlibrary lending program where you can request an item from another library that your own library may not have.
Each participating library reserves the right to limit what can be borrowed through this program.
Generally, however, if an item is available to borrow through interlibrary loan, then it is most likely available to borrow through this program.
Does my Thomaston Public Library card need to be in good standing?
Yes! Please make sure your local card is up-to-date, has a 14-digit barcode, hasn’t expired, and has no fees or fines. It must be in good standing to use it at a participating library. Staff at participating libraries may ask that you contact your “home” library directly to resolve any issue with your card or account because the staff at the library you are visiting may not have all of your account information available to them.
Do I need to have my library card with me to borrow an item at another library?
Yes, and your library card needs to have a 14-digit barcode. If you still have a shorter (likely 5-digit) card number, please visit your “home” library and speak to the librarians.
If I borrow an item from another library, where should I return it?
Preferably, return the item to the library you borrowed it from or return it to your “home” library. However, you can return the item to any of the participating libraries, should the need arise. The goal of this program is convenience and customer service!
What if an item I borrow from a participating library gets lost or damaged?
As is currently the practice with interlibrary lending, you the borrower assume the responsibility for the replacement costs of any lost or damaged materials. All notices and bills will be generated by the “home” local library and will be sent to you – the same way they are currently – should an item get lost or damaged.
It appears as if there are different types of libraries that are participating?
Yes, that’s correct! There are public libraries, college and university libraries, some school libraries, and health and specialty libraries. Maine libraries are unique in the nation for their ability to collaborate and share their resources with each other. You have access to all of them through this program.
What if I encounter a problem with the reciprocal borrowing program?
Talk to your local librarians about any issues and to share your thoughts! Receiving feedback about this program is very important, and we want to make improvements where we can.