Need or want something we don't have? Request it!

Circulation Policy

Mission and Purpose

The Chattanooga Public Library provides free and equal access to library materials and services and is guided by its Mission to be the community’s catalyst for lifelong learning.

The library supports the individual’s right to have access to ideas and information representing all points of view. The library board has adopted the American Library Association’s statements regarding the following: Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read, Freedom to View, and Access to Electronic Information, Services and Networks.

It is the policy of the Chattanooga Public Library not to forbid or impede the circulation of items from the library collection to any of its cardholders in good standing, whether resident or non-resident, based upon that cardholder’s race, creed, national origin, age, place of residence, or other personal criteria. While the Library supports these principles, in the case of minors (17 and under) we are also obligated to comply with Tennessee Code 39-17-911; Sale, loan or exhibition of material to minors. http://www.state.tn.us/tccy/tnchild/39/39-17-911.htm

Access to Library Materials by Minors
It is the policy of the Chattanooga Public Library that parents or guardians, not the library staff, are responsible for monitoring and approving the selection of materials made by their children. It is the parents or guardians—and only these—who may restrict their children—and only their children—from access to library materials and services. Parents or guardians who wish to block their children from borrowing items from the young adult or adult collections should request for library staff issue a card limited to taking out materials with a juvenile designation. The library staff cannot and do not act in loco parentis.

Registration and Issuance of Library Cards

Resident Full Access Library Card

An adult applicant (over the age of 17) is eligible for a library card free of charge for one year upon making proper application if they meet one (1) of the following qualifications:

  1. they reside within the city limits of the City of Chattanooga;

  2. are a City employee;

  3. non-residents who own real property within the city limits;

  4. non-residents who operate a business within the city limits and who render business personal property for ad valorem taxes and who pay those taxes;

  5. college students who reside on campus;

  6. volunteer twenty (20) documented hours of service to the library; and

  7. Are currently enrolled in a Hamilton County public school. Cards to students will be issued through the child’s school.

A non-expired government issued photo ID with the applicant’s current address must be presented at the time of application. If the photo ID lacks a current address, a current official document reflecting his/her name and address or a typewritten or computer generated document postmarked within the last 30 days that reflects his/her name and address is required.

Some acceptable forms of photo ID are:

  • Driver’s License

  • State ID

  • Matricula Consular

  • Passport

  • Debit/Credit card (w/photo)

  • Work ID

Some acceptable forms of address verification are:

  • Voter’s registration card (current)

  • Lease agreement  (current)

  • Vehicle insurance (current)

  • Mailed or online bill from within the last 30 days

  • Current mail with physical address (within last 30 days). Name and address must be typewritten or computer generated. Addressed as “or current resident” is not accepted.

A P.O. Box address may be used as a secondary mailing address, but is not accepted as address verification. 

City employees who reside outside the city limits must provide a current City of Chattanooga Employee ID at the time of application. 

Non-residents who own property or a business within the city limits must present proof of property ownership in the form of a city tax bill together with a photo ID showing the applicant’s current address as described above. The non-resident applicant shall have the burden of proving real property ownership and payment of personal property taxes for taxation purposes and determined by proof of residency. 

College students who reside on campus must provide a government-issued photo ID and proof of current residence.

At the age of 18, an applicant is considered an adult and can apply for a library card without need of parental permission or signature. An applicant aged 17 or under is required to have a parent or legal guardian sign the library card to show acceptance of responsibility for materials checked out on the card. The parent or guardian who applied for the card authorizes the minor’s use of the card, and accepts the responsibility for the selection of materials borrowed and for the return of the materials and any penalties incurred. A non-expired government issued photo ID with the applicant’s current address must be presented at the time of application. The parent or legal guardian who applies for the card cannot have a Chattanooga Public Library card in Collections status. If the photo ID lacks a current address, a current official document reflecting his/her name and address or a recently postmarked document that reflects his/her name and address is required. The child must be in attendance with the parent or guardian in order to receive the card.

    Non-resident Full Access Card
A full access card is available to non-residents of the City of Chattanooga for a nonrefundable annual fee of $50.00. The non-resident fee will be charged per household and not per person. The annual fee may be amended and changed by the Chattanooga Public Library Board as is deemed necessary.

   Library Card Outreach
Library staff may issue library cards off site. The applicant will need to meet the same identification and proof of current address as stated above as well as a signature of a parent or legal guardian, if applicable.

    Youth Courtesy Cards
Youth Courtesy Cards may be issued to a person 17 years of age or younger. This card allows the applicant to check out one (1) book (print version) at a time and does not allow access to the following services: Chattanooga Public Library licensed databases, downloadable content, Internet access, or any other service requiring a PIN for access. A Youth Courtesy Card expires three (3) months from the date issued but is renewable if account is in good standing.

    Temporary Resident Card
Individuals residing in shelters or other temporary housing facilities in the City of Chattanooga may acquire a library card, upon showing a photo ID and a letter from the housing facility director on letterhead that states the individual is currently residing in the facility and able to receive mail at that address. A Limited--Temporary library card will be issued by mail to verify mail is received at that address.  The applicant may have only three (3) items checked out at a time. The card expires in three (3) months and may be renewed for an additional three (3) months with the receipt of another letter from the housing facility director.

    Guest Pass
A Guest Card may be issued to any adult customer, regardless of residence, without ID, for $1.00 for the purpose of using library computer services. This card is valid for one (1) day, is non-renewable, and cannot be used for any purpose other than computer services. All internet use restrictions, including time limits, apply to this card classification.  

    Business Cards
Library cards will be issued in the name of an organization or business located in the City of Chattanooga upon request by the entity’s executive director or owner. The request must be made in person, and the executive director or owner must provide proof of his/her position in the company or organization. Responsibility for this account rests with the applicant. A photo ID with proof of the current business and mailing address must be provided.  An out-of-city business may acquire a business card and is subject to the same requirements as stated above and will be required to pay the $50.00 annual non-resident fee.

Expiration Dates and Renewal of Library Cards

Customers will be requested to provide identification at the time of card renewals.

  • Resident and Non-resident Library Cards expire one (1) year from date issued and are renewable as long as the account is in good standing (no fees or overdue materials), and if applicable, upon payment of the $50.00 non-resident fee.

  • Youth Courtesy Cards and Temporary Resident Cards expire after three (3) months and are renewable as long as the account is in good standing (no fees or overdue materials).

  • Guest Passes expire after one (1) day and are not renewable.  Visitors may purchase a new guest pass each day.

PIN (Personal Identification Number)

A customer can access his/her library account, on line, with a Personal Identification Number (PIN). The PIN is set by the cardholder. Problems with a PIN may be resolved in person or customers can access their account online to reset their PIN.

Lost & Replacement Cards

Replacement plastic library cards are available for a fee of $1.00 payable at the time of the request. Identity verification is needed to receive the replacement card. Library customers are responsible for notifying the library of a lost or stolen card so that a block may be put on the account so that no additional items may be checked out. Library customers are responsible for materials checked out on lost or stolen cards that have not been reported.

Checking Out Materials

A library customer should present his/her library card in order to check out materials. If the library card is not in his/her possession, materials may be checked out with photo identification. Library card barcodes presented on smart phones or other mobile devices are also accepted.

Customers with outstanding fees over $5.00 will not be allowed to check out additional materials.

All circulating materials may be borrowed by cardholders for three (3) weeks (21 days), except for DVDs and magazines which check out for seven (7) days. In some instances, a limit has been placed on the number of non-print items that may be checked out by customers. Customers may not exceed these limitations: 

  • Video items - 10 per card
  • Audio items - 10 per card
  • Digital downloads - 5 per card per platform
  • Total items checked out may not exceed 100 per card

The receipt received at checkout serves as the official notice of the due date for an item or items, and the customer is responsible for knowing the actual return date.

Check In Policy
Items may be returned to any Chattanooga library location in any designated book return. All items are checked for damage and for missing pieces before they are checked in and removed from a customer’s account. A customer whose items are checked in after the due date will be assessed late fees by the library’s automation system.

Items Returned Incomplete
If a customer returns an item that is lacking one or more of its components, the customer is responsible for returning the missing component(s). The library will contact the customer. The item will not be removed from the customer’s account (i.e. will not be checked-in) until the missing component(s) is/are returned. In the event the customer does not return the missing component(s) the item will be considered “lost” and the customer will be assessed the appropriate fees.

Extended Use Fees
Extended Use Fees are assessed if an item is not returned by the close of business on the due date. The fee is $0.10 per item, per day.

Renewal Policy
Library materials may be renewed through the Online Public Access Catalog or by staff. There is no limit to how many times an item can be renewed, but items with holds will not be renewed.

Lost Materials
If a customer loses an item, the customer is responsible for the replacement cost for that item (i.e., the list price of the item at the time it was added to the collection according to the item record. In the event that no amount is indicated in the item record, then the replacement cost will be the amount the item is listed for sale as a new item on Amazon.com). The customer cannot replace or substitute the lost item with another item. In the event a lost item that has been paid for is found and is returned to the library, the customer will receive a refund according to the City of Chattanooga procedures. The refund amount is the amount paid for the item less the overdue charges (due date to paid date).

At three hundred sixty-five (365) days overdue, the customer will no longer be eligible to receive a refund for the return of lost materials. The customer will be responsible for the replacement and processing fees associated with the lost item(s).  

Overdue Materials
Materials checked out and not returned forty-five (45) days after the due date are considered “lost.” The customer is billed for the replacement costs of the materials.

Damaged Materials
Items damaged beyond normal wear and tear, including purposefully defacing or destroying library material, is the responsibility of the customer. Fees for damaged materials will be the replacement cost for the material. If the customer has lost or permanently damaged a DVD or Music CD but still has the case, the customer is responsible for the entire amount of the item. The price of the case will not be subtracted from the replacement cost.

Miscellaneous Charges for Damages

  • Damaged DVD or Music Case                $2.00
  • Damaged Audiobook Case                     $2.00
  • Damaged or missing barcode                 $1.00
  • Lost or damaged CD/DVD/Audiobook cover/insert    $2.00

Claims Returned or Claims Never Had
When a library customer claims that an item (owned by The Chattanooga Public Library) still charged out to him/her has been returned to the library, or that he/she never borrowed that item in the first place, the customer may request that the library mark the item as "Claim Returned” or “Claim Never Had" (both hereinafter referred to as “Claimed”).

The following policies will apply to this procedure:

  1. Items Claimed will be searched for biweekly in all library locations for a 2-month period. If the item is found in the library, the item will be discharged from the user's record and all fines will be waived.

  2. The customer will be responsible for the processing and replacement fines if the item is found on the shelf and it is not stamped/processed as property of The Chattanooga Public Library.

  3. The customer is encouraged to continue searching for the item while staff search for it in the library. If the customer finds the item and returns it to the library, he/she will be assessed any overdue fines that have accrued.

    • If the item cannot be found, replacement charges will be applied to the customer’s account.

    • A customer account may have up to 3 (three) Claimed items over the lifetime of the account without assessment of charges. The number of Claimed items never resets, regardless of the ultimate outcome of any given claim.

    • When the customer exceeds 3 Claimed items on his/her account, those items will be searched for as described in (1) above but if not found, the customer will be billed full lost book charges. Future Claims on that account will become lost book charges if not found within the 2 month search window. These charges include the cost of the book and a $10.00 processing fee.

Holds
Customers may place up to 30 hold requests on circulating items. Items are held for seven (7) days. If the item is not picked up within the time allotted, the hold is cancelled and the item is returned to circulation or fills the next hold in the queue.

In order to check out the hold item, the customer must present the library card on which the hold request was made or be a designated cardholder associated with the customer who originally placed the hold. No pickups will be allowed without the originating card or a designated customer association. If a customer presents the card that originated the hold or the customer has an associated library account, check-out will be allowed even if the cardholder is not present at the time of pick-up.

Picking up Associated Customer Holds
A customer can designate another cardholder to pick up a held item as long as the customers’ accounts are associated through the library’s automation system. When the item is picked up by the associated customer, the hold is deleted from the account of the customer who placed the hold. The item is then checked out on the associated customer’s account.

Interlibrary Loan Titles
The Chattanooga Public Library participates in the ALA-sponsored Interlibrary Loan program. The Chattanooga Public Library will request from another library materials that are not available to its customers locally. Only print items will be requested. In order to request a title through this service, the customer’s full-access account must be active and in good standing with no fees or overdue materials. Customer may have no more than five (5) Interlibrary Loan titles on their account at the same time.

The library honors any restrictions and/or check out periods the lending library may place on the material. The library customer is responsible for all materials borrowed from another library at the customer’s request. The library customer will pay any charges assessed by the lending library. Interlibrary Loan items checked out by a customer are subject to the same late fees as a Chattanooga-owned title. In order to check out the item, the customer must present the library card on which the interlibrary loan request was placed. Items are held for seven (7) days. If the item is not picked up within the time allotted, the loan request is canceled and returned to the lending library. If a customer presents the card that originated the request, check-out will be allowed even if the cardholder is not present at the time of pickup. No pickups will be allowed without the originating card.

Courtesy Notices
The library will notify customers by email, phone, and/or text message of upcoming due dates for materials checked out. For all checked-out items, a courtesy notice is sent three (3) days in advance of the due date. Failure to receive a courtesy notice does not exempt the customer from any overdue charges.

Overdue Materials and Outstanding Fines and Fees
As a courtesy, the Chattanooga Public Library notifies customers whenever they have overdue materials or owe fines or fees of $25 or more. Library customers who have unpaid fees over $5 will not be able to check out materials.  

  • At one (1) day overdue, or when the patron reaches the $25.00 fine threshold, a notice is sent via email, text-messaging or through the library’s Telephone Notification System.
  • At five (5) days overdue, or when the patron reaches the $25.00 fine threshold, a second notice is sent via email, text-messaging or through the library’s Telephone Notification System.
  • At twenty-eight (28) days overdue, or when the patron reaches the $25.00 fine threshold, a third notice is sent via email, text-messaging or through the library’s Telephone Notification System.
  • At forty-five (45) days overdue, or when the patron reaches the $25.00 fine threshold, the customer will receive a billing statement via the U.S. Postal Service that reflects the replacement and processing cost for each item, or the fines and fees owed.
  • At sixty (60) days from the due date of the materials, or when the patron reaches the $25.00 fine threshold, if a customer does not resolve their outstanding account, and they are in excess of $25.00, the account is referred to a collection agency. A collection fee of $15.00 is charged to the customer’s account at this time.
  • At one hundred twenty (120) days from the time the customer is referred to the agency, if the collection agency is unable to collect outstanding charges, the collection agency will send the account to the credit bureaus.
  • At three hundred sixty-five days (365) overdue, the customer will no longer be able to receive a refund for the return of lost materials. The customer will be responsible for the replacement and processing fees associated with the lost item(s).  

Not receiving an overdue notification does not exempt the customer from paying outstanding fees.


Approved by Chattanooga Public Library Board of Directors on January 15, 2013 revised and approved by Chattanooga Public Library Board of Directors on July 15, 2014
Revised and approved by Chattanooga Public Library Board of Directors on January 20, 2015
Revised and approved by Chattanooga Public Library Board of Directors on January 12, 2016