Circulation Policies

Circulation Lending Guidelines

TCPL offers generous lending limits and borrowing periods on items in the collection. A maximum of 50 items may checked out at one time. A date due slip is provided each time an item is checked out of the library. Borrowers are responsible for returning all items on or before their due date.

We offer free and equal access to all members of the community we serve. All children and young adults (ages 5 – 17) who are issued library cards will have unfiltered access to both our collections and our services, including access to the Internet through our public computers and Wi-Fi service. If parents/guardians/caregivers do not want their children accessing the Internet from library computers, they may opt out of this service by notifying a staff member at the Access and Circulation Services Desk. Access to Wi-Fi services via personal devices cannot be restricted based on age.

Cards should be presented at the time of checkout. In the event of a lost or stolen card, contact TCPL as soon as possible. Replacement cards are recommended and can be obtained for a one dollar replacement fee. Patrons who have notified the library of a lost or stolen card can continue to borrow materials by presenting a photo ID at the time of checkout. In order to reinstate a lost or stolen card, the card and photo ID must be presented together.


  • A total of 50 items may be charged to a card at any one time.
  • All movies are available to all borrowers without regard to age. However, at a parent's or guardian's request, children 16 and under may be restricted from borrowing R-rated movies.
  • Please return items on time. If you are not finished with an item, you may renew it if no one else has placed a hold on the item. Most items can be renewed only once.
  • The book return is offered as a courtesy service to our library users, and is located on the Green Street-side of the building.
  • You may check out your own books using the self-checkout stations. However, you must have your library card with you, and your account must be free of holds, overdue items, and have fewer than $10.00 in charges.
  • Different types of books and media may have different loan periods.


Tompkins County Public Library is a fine-free library. We ask that you return your items on or before their due dates.


Item Hold Limit Borrowing Limit Loan Period Renewals* Fine
Total Items per Card 20
Due to COVID
restrictions, hold limit is 10.
50 See Below *if no holds No fines
Books 20
Due to COVID
restrictions, hold limit is 10.
50 21 Days 1 No fines
New Books 10 10 21 Days 1 No fines
Magazines 10 10 21 Days 1 No fines
CDs 10 Titles 10 Titles 21 Days 1 No fines
DVDs 5 Titles 5 Titles 7 Days 1 (2 times on titles with 3+ discs) No fines
Audiobooks 5 Titles 5 Titles 21 Days 1 No fines
Book Club Kits     31 Days   No fines
Foreign Language Audio and Literacy Multimedia 5 Titles 5 Titles 21 Days 1 No fines
Video Games 5 Titles 2 Titles 21 Days 0 No fines
Items from Other FLLS libraries 20
Due to COVID
restrictions, hold limit is 10.
20 Variable Inquire No fines
eBook No Limit 5 downloadable items total on card
(does not count toward overall limit of 20)
7-21 days (you choose) 1 No fines
eAudiobooks No Limit 5 downloadable items total on card
(does not count toward overall limit of 20)
7-21 days (you choose) 1 No fines



If you want to keep an item for longer than the original borrowing period, TCPL offers renewals for up to one additional loan period on most items. Items not eligible for renewing are: any item on hold for another patron, or interlibrary loans. We offer automatic renewals, but you may also renew items:

  • Online at
  • In person at the Circulation desk
  • Over the phone at 607-275-1LIB (1542)

Items renew from the date you renew them, not from the date they are due.

If you need help renewing items, please call Access and Circulation Services at 607-275-1LIB (1542).


Borrowers are responsible for returning all items on or before their due date. The library will send email reminders to cardholders who have provided a valid email address. Reminders are sent one day in advance of the due date. Late notices are sent five days and then fifteen days after an item is due.

You may return your items inside the library, at our outside book returns, or at any Finger Lakes Library System member library. Member libraries are any public library within our five-county service area consisting of Tompkins, Cayuga, Cortland, Seneca, and Tioga.


Items currently available on our shelves, items owned by TCPL that are currently checked out to another patron, and items owned by other libraries in the Finger Lakes Library System may be placed on hold by contacting either the Information & Learning Services (607-272-4556) or Youth Services (607-272-4557 x275), or placing the request online.

Once hold request items have been pulled from the shelves or arrive from another location, you will be sent a notice that the hold is available for pick-up. There is no fee for placing hold requests.


You can choose to have the library contact you via email, phone, text, or mail. Just ask the staff at the Access and Circulation Services desk to update your information and select the best contact method.

We try to contact you several times before and after an item is due. Below is a timeline of what we send:

  • Reminder Notice - 2 days before your items are due, the library sends a courtesy notice via email.
  • Overdue Notice - TCPL sends out an overdue notice when items are 5 days and 15 days overdue (includes Claim Returned items).
  • Bill Notice - When an item is 30 days overdue, we assume the item is lost and will send you a bill for the replacement and processing costs.
  • Collection/Material Recovery Notice - 30 days after a bill is printed, if the account balance is at or above $25, the account is turned over to our Collection/Material Recovery service. At this point a $10 fee is added to the account.

Collection/Material Recovery Notices

  • TCPL no longer uses a Collection/Material Recovery service.

Fines & Fees

TCPL does not charge fines for overdue materials except for interlibrary loan items. We still ask that all items be returned on or prior to their due date. A bill for replacement and processing will be sent for any items not returned within 30 days of their original due date. Items will not be accepted for return after 180 days. Borrowing privileges are suspended once an account has reached ten dollars in fees or 10 overdue items.

Description Fee
Library card (Tompkins, Cayuga, Cortland, Seneca, Schuyler, Tioga counties) FREE
Card replacement $1.00
Daily overdue (per item) No fines
Daily overdue for Interlibrary Loan (per item) $1.00
Maximum overdue (per item) No fines
Maximum overdue for Interlibrary Loan (per item) $30.00
Hold (per item) FREE
Reshelving fee for held items not picked up before "unclaimed" date (per item) FREE
Processing (lost/damaged) (per item) $5.00
Replacement (per item) Variable
Returned check $10.00


Tompkins County Public Library accepts cash, check, debit card, and credit card as payment.

  • Checks can be made payable to "Tompkins County Public Library."
  • We accept Visa, MasterCard, and Discover for fees over $5. If you pay online, we also accept PayPal. We do not accept American Express and Diners' Club.

To Pay Online

  1. Log into your account online.
  2. Go to "Fines & Fees."
  3. Check one or more items from the account that you wish to pay and then select "Pay online...".
  4. Continue through the process to complete the online payment form.
  5. Please contact Access and Circulation Services at 607-275-1542 or if you have any questions.


The replacement cost and processing fees are non-refundable once an item is paid for or replaced.


Approved by the Tompkins County Public Library Board of Trustees January 22, 2019
Modified 1/16/20 to remove Collection Agency wording.


PDF Version of the Policy