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Policies and Procedures Banner

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The Baltimore County Public Library provides access to information and materials for our users but must observe certain policies and procedures in order to protect our materials and to help provide equal access to all.  Click below to read the most frequently asked questions about our rules and policies.

 

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Buy or Donate Used Materials

 

Better World Books LogoDonations of gently used items in good condition and odor- and mold-free are accepted at all BCPL branches. Branches accept used materials but reserve the right to evaluate, sell through Better World Books (opens in new window) or dispose of them using the same criteria applied to our purchased material.  The library cannot ascribe or provide a receipt of cash value for your donation but can initial and date statements that confirm and/or describe the contents of a donation for your tax records.

 

Withdrawn library materials and donations are for sale 24/7 online through Better World Books (opens in new window). Better World Books funds literacy initiatives. A percentage of the sale price is returned to the library to purchase additional materials and to fund library services.

 

DVDs

 

DVD Cover of Star Trek Into DarknessBCPL has a variety of adult and children's DVDs (link opens window in library catalog) available to check out; however, DVDs cannot be borrowed on a Teacher Loan Card. The policies for all DVDs are as follows:

 

  • No check out fee.

  • Customers may check out up to 20 DVD's at one time.

  • Extended Loan Fee (overdue fee): $1.00 per item, per day and applies if these items are not returned by closing time on their due date

  • Renewals: eligible for up to two renewals through the Baltimore County Public Library website or through SHELF HELP

  • Holds: can be requested through the catalog and you will be notified when the DVD arrives at your branch and is ready for pick up

  • Not Picked Up Fee: a “not picked up fee” of $1.00 per item applies if a request is delivered to a branch but not picked up

 

Loan periods vary according to the type of DVD:

  • Adult and Children's Entertainment / Feature Length DVDs (1 DAY DVD Movie)-- one day
  • Adult and Children's TV Series, Classic and Foreign Films on DVD (7 DAY DVD Movie) -- seven days
  • Adult and Children's Nonfiction / Instructional DVDs -- twenty-one days

 

 

DVD's due on a Sunday: Entertainment or movie DVDs (1 DAY DVD MOVIE) that are checked out on Saturday must be returned by 5 p.m. on Sunday to any of our branches or placed in any branch's book drop by 5 p.m. on Sunday to avoid late fees (extended loan fees). All BCPL branches have book drops, except the Loch Raven Library. Returns can be made at any other branch.

 

Customers under the age of 18 must have parental permission to check out DVDs that are not rated for children.  At the time of library card registration parents or guardians must sign and authorize permission for a child to use his or her library card to borrow all DVDs or only DVDs for children. If the parent or guardian does not sign and authorize permission, only DVDs for children may be borrowed. Parental permission includes any signature that we currently accept for obtaining a library card, for example grandparents, caregivers, etc. Parents or gaurdians can change parental permission at the Accounts Desk at any Baltimore County Public Library branch.

 

Playaway Devices

 

BCPL provides self contained devices called Playaways and Playaway Views for your listening and viewing convenience. Playaways and Playaway Views cannot be borrowed on a Teacher Loan card. Borrowing policies for these devices are listed below.   

 

Playaways (opens in library catalog as new window) are battery operated listening devices that come conveniently pre-loaded with an audio book

 

  • Twenty-one day check out / loan period

  • No checkout fee

  • Extended loan fee (overdue fee) is same as books ($ .25 per day, per item)

  • Eligible for up to two renewals

  • Holds can be requested through the catalog. You will be notified when the Playaway arrives at your branch

  • Can be returned at any branch

  • The library does not provide earbuds or batteries with Playaways but those supplies are available for purchase in our branches

 

Playaway Views (opens in library catalog as new window) are re-chargeable video devices that come conveniently pre-loaded with a movie. Currently this collection is geared towards young children only.

 

  • Seven day check out / loan period

  • No checkout fee

  • Extended loan fee (overdue fee) is $1.00 per day

  • Eligible for up to two renewals

  • Holds can be requested through the catalog. You will be notified when the Playaway arrives at your branch

  • Can be returned at any branch

  • Replacement costs is $100 for a lost or damaged viewer and $20 for a lost or damaged charger.  Replacement costs are clearly labeled on Playaway View packaging.

 

Video Games

 

Video Game CoverBCPL has a variety of adult and children's video games available to check out. Video game systems include: Sony Playstation 3 and 4, Wii, WiiU, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. BCPL also has a number of Kinect games as a part of our XBox collection. Video games can only be checked out by first placing a request for a hold on the title. The policies for video games are as follows:

 

  • Twenty-one day check out / loan period

  • No checkout fee

  • Can only be checked out by first placing a request on video game titles and you will be notified when your video game arrives at your branch and is ready for pick up.

  • Extended Loan (overdue fee) of $1.00 per item per day for each video game applies if these items are not returned by closing time on their due date.

  • Holds can be requested through the catalog. You will be notified when the video game arrives at your branch.

  • A “not picked up fee” of $1.00 per item applies if a hold request item is delivered to a branch but not picked up.

  • Borrower Limits: customers cannot check out more than 3 video games at a time.

  • Eligible for up to two renewals through the Baltimore County Public Library website or through SHELF HELP

  • Video Game Ratings: the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) provides rating symbols. Baltimore County Public Library purchases video games that are rated EC (Early Childhood - may be suitable for ages three and older) through T (Teen - may be suitable for ages thirteen and older).

 

Video Games cannot be borrowed on a Teacher Loan Card.

 

Video Games due on a Sunday: video games due back on a Sunday must be returned by 5 p.m. on Sunday to any of our branches or placed in any branch's book drop by 5 p.m. on Sunday to avoid late fees (extended loan fees). All BCPL branches have book drops, except the Loch Raven Branch. Returns can be made at any other branch.

 

Customers under the age of 18 must have parental permission to check out video games cataloged in our adult collection. A parent or guardian must authorize at the time of library card registration whether a child may use his or her library card to borrow all video games or only video games rated for children. These are designated with a J before the call number. If the parent or guardian does not sign and authorize this permission, only video games having a J before the call number may be borrowed. Parental permission includes any signature that we currently accept for obtaining a library card, for example grandparents, caregivers, etc. You can change parental permission at the Circulation or Borrower Services Desk at any Baltimore County Public Library branch.

 

Fees and Overdues

 

Basic Services | Fees | Replacement Costs | Notification | Payment

 

CoinsAlthough the Baltimore County Public Library is a tax supported public institution, it is also responsible for raising approximately ten percent of its total annual budget.  Materials and many of the other library services that you enjoy are made possible in large part by the fees that the library collects.  The vast majority of the library's services are free but we have listed those fees below of which our customers should be aware.  The status of your library account including items checked out and any fees attached to your account is available online (opens in new window) or by calling Shelf Help. Customers who have outstanding balances may be denied use of library services and may be referred to a collection agency.

 


Basic Services
 

The following services are considered basic and are provided free of charge for our customers:

 

  • Checkout and renew materials,

  • Hold requests

  • Reference services

  • Reader's Advisory recommendations

  • Database access

  • Children's and family programming

  • Basic Internet instruction

  • Access to the Internet and MSOffice in our branches

  • Access to BCPL's wireless network in our branches

     


Fees

 

Extended Loan Fees for "Overdue" or Late Library Materials
 

If library materials are not returned by their due date before the branch closes, an extended loan (overdue) fee is automatically attached to the customer's library account.  Extended Loan fees accrue daily, until overdue materials are returned and may reach a maximum extended loan fee, which never exceeds the purchase price of the item. Fees, borrowing and loan details for most materials may be found below.

 

Type of Material

Daily Extended Loan Fee / Late Fee

Loan Period

Borrowing

Limit

Maximum Extended

Loan / Late Fee

Eligible for Renewal?

Books

$ .25

21 days

 

$ 8.00 

Yes

Baby Booster Kits

$ .25

21 days

 

$ 8.00

Yes

Book Club Kits (8 or 10 items per kit)

$ .25

42 days

 

$ 8.00

Yes

CDs: Music and Audio Books

$ .25

21 days

 

$ 8.00

Yes

Downloadable eBooks & Audio Books from OverDrive
 

none

Choice of 7, 14 or 21 days, default is 14 days

6

none

Yes (one time)

Downloadable eBooks from 3M Cloud

none

21 days

6

none

no

DVDs: Classic, TV Series, and Foreign Films

$ 1.00

7 days

20

$ 12.00

Yes

DVDs: Entertainment Movies

$ 1.00

1 day

20

$ 12.00

Yes

DVDs: Non-fiction

$ 1.00

21 days

20

$ 12.00

Yes

Magazines and Comic Books

$ .25

21 days

 

Magazine:  $ 4.00 

Comic:  $ 2.00 

Yes

Playaways

$ .25

21 days

 

$ 8.00 

Yes

Playaway Views

$ 1.00

7 days

 

$ 12.00

Yes

Storyville Collection

$ .25

21 days

 

$ 8.00

Yes

Video Games

$ 1.00

21 days

3

$ 12.00

Yes

 

Late fees will not be assessed on Baltimore County Public Library's official closing dates or when all BCPL branches are unexpectedly closed for the entire day due to inclement weather or special circumstances.  BCPL hours are not tied with the openings and closings of the County government or schools.  If branches are open for a partial day, all applicable fees are charged. 

 

BCPL will attempt to notify customers (by email or phone or text) of items they may have that are overdue fourteen (14) days after the item's due date.  Customers are responsible for returning library materials on time and any associated late fees regardless of whether or not they receive notification.  All items can be returned to any Baltimore County Public Library branch regardless of where they were checked out.

 


Other Fees

 

Damaged Materials / Damaged Library Cards

 

For general damage to materials: fees will vary based on the extent of the damage up to and including the full cost of the material. Staff at the Circulation or Borrower Services Desk at any of our branches will determine the amount of damage to the item. The library does not accept substitute materials to replace damaged items. A processing fee of $4.00 is charged for each damaged item, in addition to each item's replacement cost. Replacement costs for most damaged materials vary and depend on the purchase price of the item. Some items, such as CD cases or library cards, do not vary in their replacement cost. Standard replacement costs for these types of items are listed below.

 

  • Damaged or lost library card: $2.00

  • Damaged or missing barcode or radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag: $1.00

  • Damaged cases such as CD, DVD, Playaway or video game case, bag or binder: $2.00

  • Damaged booklets or printed materials accompanying a CD, DVD, Playaway or video game: $2.00

  • Damaged Playaway View: $100 for damaged viewer, $20 for damaged charger or power cord, $2.00 for damaged case or damaged printed materials or booklets. Damaged and replacement costs are clearly labeled on Playaway View packaging.

 

“Lost” Library Materials - fees and replacement costs

 

Material which is thirty-two (32) days overdue is automatically assumed by the library to have been lost by the customer. At that point, a “Lost” status will be reflected in the customer’s account.

 

  • For material that is returned to the library, customers are charged only overdue fees.

  • For material that is not returned to the library, customers are charged the replacement cost of the material, overdue fees, and a $4.00 processing fee.

  • The replacement cost for lost material will be refunded if the item is found and returned to the library within six months of the date of payment. The item must be accompanied by the payment receipt. If an item is found and returned the overdue and processing fees are not refunded.

  • Replacement cost refunds cannot be given for items that were borrowed for the customer from another library system.

 

The library does not accept substitute materials to replace lost items. Most materials vary in replacement cost, depending on the purchase price of the item. Standard replacement costs are charged for the following items:

 

  • Cases and containers: CD, DVD, Playaway or video game case, bag or binder: $2.00

  • Comic book: $3.00 (excluding graphic novels)

  • Engraver: $10.00

  • Magazine: $5.00

  • Playaway View: $100 for a lost viewer, $20 for a lost charger or power cord, $2.00 for lost case or lost printed materials.

  • Printed materials or booklets accompanying items such as a CD, DVD, Playaway or video game: $2.00

  • Material borrowed for the customer from another library system: cost is established by the owning system.

 

"Not Picked Up" Fee for Hold Requests 

 

If items are requested but not picked up by the customer, a $1.00 per item restocking fee is attached to the customer's library account.

 

Additional services that are available for a small service fee include:

 

  • InterLibrary Loan: BCPL can request materials from other library systems for use by our customers.

  • Meeting Room Rental: Meeting rooms at Baltimore County Public Library branches can be reserved by for profit as well as non-profits community interest groups.

  • Photocopying, Faxing, and Printing: Copy, faxing, and computer printer services are available in many of our facilities.

 


Notification

 

BCPL primarily sends notices by email or by telephone in an effort to be efficient and environmentally friendly. In addition, BCPL can send additional notifications via text message. Customers will need to opt-in for the text messaging service and can do so by visiting our website at www.bcpl.info and clicking on the My Account (opens in new window) area or by visiting your local branch and registering your mobile phone number and carrier. Once a mobile phone is registered, customers will receive notification through email/telephone in addition to a text message. Customers may have additional lost or overdue items that may not be reported with each notification. Notification of any additional lost or overdue items will be made, as appropriate, according to established Baltimore County Public Library policies and procedures.

 

To ensure that you get email notices from the library, add the addresses below to your email address book: 

 

monitor@bcpl.net | notifyme@bcpl.net | notice@bcpl.net

 

Types of Notification:

 

  • Hold Notices
    These notices are sent out by email or by phone and notify customers of holds ready to be picked up. If the customer has chosen to receive additional text messages, a text message will be sent at the same time.

 

  • Extended Loan Fee Notices
    Customers who returned items which were overdue and have unpaid fees of $10.00 or more will be notified by email fourteen (14) days after the item is returned. If email is unavailable or unsuccessful, a paper notice is then mailed. If the customer has chosen to receive additional text messages, a text message will be sent at the same time. Phone notification is not available for extended loan fee notices.

 

  • Overdue Notices
    Customers will receive email notification of any items which are fourteen (14) days overdue. If email is unavailable, customers will be notified by our automated phone service. If the customer has chosen to receive additional text messages, a text message will be sent at the same time.  Items are automatically assumed to be lost after being thirty-two (32) days overdue.

 

  • Lost Notices
    If an item is thirty-two (32) days overdue, then it is considered lost. On the thirty-second day after the due date, customers are notified by email that the item is considered lost. If email notification is unsuccessful, a paper notice is mailed. If the customer has chosen to receive additional text messages, a text message will be sent at the same time. Phone notification is not available for lost items.

 

  • Collection Agency Notices
    Customers owing $50.00 or more may be referred to a collection agency. A $15.00 service charge will be applied. BCPL's collection agency, Unique Management will notify customers via letters, as well as with phone calls. After 120 days in collections, unpaid accounts will be credit reported.

                                  


Payment

 

  • Payment of Fees

     

There are three ways to pay your library fees:

 

  • Online: You can pay your fees online using your Visa or MasterCard in just a few easy steps. Please note that there is a $ .25 convenience fee added to the total in these transactions

    • Step one: click the My Account (opens in new window) area of our home page.

    • Step two: login to your account using your library card number without spaces and your password

    • Step three: click the "Fees" link in the My Account area on the left of the screen.

    • Step four: select the fees you want to pay by clicking the check boxes on the left side of the screen

    • Step five: click the "Pay Fines Now" link at the bottom of the screen.  Then just follow the onscreen instructions.  Each transaction is secure and the library does NOT retain any charge card information

 

  • In person: customers can pay fees with a Visa or MasterCard at any self-service check out station or stop by the circulation or borrower services desk at any BCPL branch and pay fees with cash, personal checks (with valid identification), Visa or MasterCard.

 

  • By telephone: call any BCPL branch and pay your fees with Visa or MasterCard.

 

  • Partial Payments

 

Arrangements for partial payments can be made at the Circulation or Borrower Services Desk at any Baltimore County Public branch. If a borrower has any fees less than $10.00, the full amount must be paid within six months to continue the use of a library card.

 

If total fees are $10.00 or more, 10 percent of the balance must be paid. The customer may check out or renew a maximum of two items per day while making partial payments.

 

All fees must be paid within 6 months of the initial payment.

 

  • Returned Check Fee

 

Each returned check will result in an additional $25.00 fee.

 

Rules of Conduct

A group at study

 

Welcome to the Baltimore County Public Library. We value our customers and strive to treat them with courtesy and respect. Libraries reflect communities and people use them for many different reasons. We hope you find the library a comfortable and welcoming place. Please be considerate of the rights of others as you use this public facility.

 

You are welcome to...

 

  • Use our materials gently. Take them home to enjoy by using your library card.

  • Speak in conversational tones. Use cell phones in designated areas. Set cell phones to vibrate.

  • Use tables and chairs during your library visit, limiting groups to four people per table. Personal items must be attended at all times.

  • Use free library computers after registering.

  • Food and drinks are allowed. Beverages must be covered, snacks should consist of finger food. Eating at or near a computer is not allowed.

  • Children of all ages are welcome to use library materials and participate in library activities. Children under 8 must be with an adult.

  • Be comfortable during your visit. Dispose of trash as you leave.

  • Shirts and shoes must be worn at all times.

  • Ask the library staff if you have any questions or need any assistance.

 

The Board of Library Trustees for Baltimore County has established Rules of Conduct so that library users and staff have a clean, pleasant and safe environment. We need your cooperation to reach this goal. 

 

The following are prohibited at all branches of the Baltimore County Public Library:
 

  • Engaging in any activity prohibited by law.

  • Disruptive or unsafe behavior including any conduct that interferes with the use of the library by others or with the functioning of the library staff.

  • Use of loud, abusive, threatening or insulting language.

  • Use of obscene or pornographic Internet sites.

  • Sexual harassment or misconduct.

  • Activities that may result in damage to library property.

  • Sleeping, smoking and offensive bodily hygiene.

  • Animals, except for assistance dogs.

  • Rollerblading or skateboarding.

  • Petitioning, soliciting or selling merchandise.

 

The Baltimore County Public Library reserves the right to restrict the use of its facilities and premises to persons who do not abide by the library's Rules of Conduct. Library personnel may ask persons who are exhibiting inappropriate behavior to modify their behavior. Noncompliance may result in the individual being banned from the library premises or in arrest and prosecution.

 

Use of Library Materials and Personal Equipment

 

Laptop

Customers are welcome to use laptops and tablets at the library. The Library assumes no responsibility for damage, theft, or loss of a customer’s equipment from use of library materials. In addition, the Library assumes no responsibility for damage, theft, or loss of a customer’s equipment, software, data or other personal property brought into or used within Baltimore County Public Library facilities. Please note that the library does provide free wireless  access to the Internet and to public printers for our customers while in our branches. Learn more about these services on our Public Computers and Wireless Access webpage.

 

 

 


Last revised: December 8, 2014