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Check Out Policies FAQ

How many items can I check out?

  • You may have up to 100 items on your card at any time.
  • You may have up to 5 adult videogames and 5 juvenile videogames on your card at any time.

How long can I have items checked out?

  • 28 days - most books, audiobooks, Playaways
  • 14 days - music CDs, CD-ROMs, vinyl records, video games, magazines, new fiction, rental books, auto manuals, new travel guides, new resume books
  • 7 days - DVDs, Blu-Rays
  • OverDrive downloadable book titles vary by format

How can I renew items?

Most items may be renewed two times unless the item has holds. Patrons and/or Households are not allowed to have any one library’s copy of an item for more than 1 check out and 2 renewals in a six (6) month period. Items may be renewed in person, via phone, or online via LINKcat. Items may also be renewed through TeleCirc, our automated telephone renewal system (608-242-4700). See managing your account.

To use the automated telephone renewal system, enter your 14-digit library card followed by the hash (or pound) sign - #, then enter your PIN/password followed by the # sign, then follow menu prompts.

Can I place items on hold?

Yes, you may place holds, or reserve, most items in our library catalog. Holds will be shipped to you at your library of choice. You may have up to 75 items on hold at any time. You may cancel holds in person, via phone, or online via LINKcat. Some materials may not be held, including items in the reference collection. See managing your holds.

To request an item NOT in our catalog, you may request an outerlibrary loan. There is a limit of five interlibrary loan requests per day, and 50 requests per year.

For more information about placing holds in OverDrive visit the OverDrive Help portal.

I placed a hold - when will I get it?

Our shared library system makes deliveries daily. Generally, if the item is in a library at the time you place a hold, you can expect delivery to your location within three working days. If an item is checked out or is on a hold list, we can not guarantee when that item will be delivered. If you need an item within 48 hours, it is generally best to call the owning library to verify that the item is there and arrange to pick it up yourself.

Can someone else pick up my holds?

Another person may pick up your holds and check them out to your account only if they have your library card. Another person may pick up your holds and check them out on their account if both parties have filled out a Holds Pickup Authorization Form. The only exception is Outerlibrary Loan holds which may only be checked out to the library card that was used to request the item.

How do I know when items I placed on hold are available?

You can receive notification one of three ways - by telephone (calls or text), by email, or by U.S. mail. If you do not specify which you prefer, you will receive email notification if you have an email address in your library card record or telephone notification if you do not. Sign up for email notifications to help us cut down on telephone and mailing costs.

What is email notification?

With email notification, people may choose to be notified about Holds Available or Overdues via email instead of by phone or paper notices. If you check your email frequently and are interested in receiving email notification, you may ask staff to add your email address to your library card record.

I requested email notification but am not getting any notices.

Some people use free, web-based email accounts to receive their messages. These email providers sometimes employ sophisticated filtering technology to separate "spam" email from other email. Depending on the service you use, and the filtering you've specified, our messages to you may be automatically deleted before you ever see them. For more information and troubleshooting ideas, contact staff at your local library.

It’s overdue -- how much do I owe?*

Overdue Charges
Material Type Fine Per Open Day
adult material no fines
children’s material no fines
outerlibrary loan material $1.00

If an item is overdue for more than 29 days, it will be considered lost and replacement charges will be assessed.   Please contact our Borrower Services Manager at 608-266-6362 for help in resolving any problems with your library account.

*See Madison Public Library's August 12, 2020 announcement about the elimination of overdue fines.

What if an item I check out is lost or damaged while I have it?

Patrons are responsible for library materials checked out on their library card. Charges will be assessed for lost or damaged items. If charges over $20 have accrued, checkout privileges will be suspended.  Please contact our Borrower Services Manager at 608-266-6362 for help in resolving any problems with your library account. If a lost item is found and returned, the time limit for a refund is 6 months after the item has changed to a Lost status. Madison Public Library does not accept replacements in place of payment.  

Where do I return items after hours?

There are "book drops" at all Madison Public Library locations for after-hours returns. Items returned in the drop before the library opens in the morning are considered returned the previous open day. Materials returned in the book drop while the library is open are checked in the same day.

If I check something out at one public library location, can I return it to another?

Yes, you may return your items to any library in the SCLS delivery service area (Adams, Columbia, Dane, Green, Portage, Sauk, and Wood counties) on or before the date that they are due.

What are checkout periods for OverDrive downloadable books?

The default lending period for all formats is 7 days.  You may set your own default lending period on a format-by-format basis, from the following options:

  • Ebooks can be checked out for 7, 14, or 21 days.
  • Most Audiobooks can be checked out for  7 or 14 days; there is a collection of always-available audiobooks that can be checked out for up to 14 days.
  • Video can be checked out for 3, 5 or 7 days.
  • High demand ebook titles can be checked out for 7 or 14 days.

Additionally, at the time of checkout, you can select a lending period on a title-by-title basis.

Titles expire roughly around the time of day that they were checked out (within 15 minutes). For more information about loan policies in OverDrive visit the Wisconsin's Digital Library FAQ