Reciprocal Access & Borrowing

RAILS members are required to make your library materials available to patrons of other member libraries in the least restrictive way possible, with some exceptions. Public libraries need to allow cardholders from other RAILS public libraries to borrow items when those patrons visit your library.

Members need to answer questions about reciprocal access as part of the Illinois State Library's annual certification, and to report reciprocal lending to ISL on the annual ILLINET statistics survey. RAILS currently does not collect regular reciprocal borrowing statistics from our libraries. In the Chicago area, RAILS helps support reciprocal access through the InfoPass program.

Library responsibilities regarding reciprocal access and borrowing are described in the RAILS Resource Sharing Policy, and in the Illinois State Library's rules under the Library Systems Act.

Definitions from ISL rules in the Illinois Administrative Code:

Reciprocal Access means how the resources of all full member libraries of a library system are made available to all library patrons in the system area. Reciprocal access benefits should be imposed equally among all reciprocal access patrons and can include interlibrary loans, photocopy service, reference service, use of library materials on site, and other services. The library governing authority may approve reasonable restrictions, applied equally among all reciprocal access patrons, for services such as computer access, library programs and meeting room use in accordance with the library system's resource sharing plan.

Reciprocal Borrowing means the right of a person who holds a valid, in-good-standing library registration card from a full member public library to borrow materials on site from other library system full member public libraries under the same conditions that the library provides those materials to its patrons, subject to reasonable restrictions approved by the library's governing board in accordance with requirements of the library system's resource sharing plan and this Part. The term "reciprocal borrowing" encompasses "Statewide Reciprocal Borrowing" and "System-wide Reciprocal Borrowing", which are also defined in this Section.

(23 Ill. Admin. Code 3030.110)

C) System-wide Reciprocal Borrowing

iii) the requirement that all reciprocal borrowing patrons will be treated the same and that reasonable limitations on quantities of reciprocal borrowing loans shall be allowed only if system-specified parameters are met, as established in the system resource sharing plan.

vi) the requirement that the library of a patron who borrows materials from another library through reciprocal borrowing is responsible for lost and damaged materials if the patron does not pay. The resource sharing plan, however, may allow for alternate means of resolving the loss or damage if the lending library agrees.

(23 Ill. Admin. Code 3030.215)