new library card holders

I joined the Association for Rural & Small Libraries last year and have really appreciated the listserv, where professional peers reach out to one another with questions, and in search of support. I thought it might be cool to occasionally share these issues/questions, in case anyone out there is in the same boat and doesn't know where to look.

Today's question: We have a regional catalog in which librarians can see the records of patrons at other libraries. Do you have policies restricting the issuing of new library cards to patrons with bad records in other libraries? How do you handle this ethical issue?

I don't always respond, but I did share some thoughts today, which are:

We are in a consortium and are strongly encouraged to not give new cards to persons with accounts past due at any other libraries within our consortium; this is a rule we adhere to.

That said, we still were getting occasionally burned by folks who'd get a card and then leave town with $100 worth of DVDs, CDs, books, etc., so I came up with a new library card setting for new card holders: "AdultProbationary" or "JuvenileProbationary." With these cards patrons are only allowed to have 3 items checked out on their card at a time. After a 90 day probationary period, IF there are no accrued fines over $5, that person gets switched to a "normal" card. We've seen a sharp decrease in problems. Hope this helps.

Coming up with policy is one of my least favorite aspects of my job.


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