Chicago Public Library: Reciprocal Borrowing

The Reciprocal Borrowing Program (RBP) enables Illinois public library cardholders to visit other public libraries throughout the state and check out materials on their home library card.

Illinois library systems assist each other in recovering materials or in collecting the charges for damaged or lost materials involved in intersystem reciprocal borrowing. RAILS has agreed to help the Chicago Public Library (CPL) collect charges by sending bills for damaged or lost materials to RAILS member libraries.

Because of the size of our membership, it is not possible for RAILS to pay the CPL bills on behalf of our libraries.

Payment of CPL Bills

Twice per year, CPL will submit invoices to RAILS to be sent via mail to RAILS libraries. A cover memo will be attached to the bills with more information, including the address where payments should be sent. Libraries are expected to pay the bills they receive from CPL for losses/damages incurred by their patrons. After the bills are paid, they also have the option of seeking reimbursement from their patrons.

Payments will need to be sent directly to the following address:

Chicago Public Library
Attn: Accounting – Reciprocal
400 S. State St, 10 N
Chicago, IL 60605

If you have any questions about the invoices or about reciprocal procedures at CPL in general, contact Laura Gorczyca Hanes, CPL Circulation Coordinator, at or 312.747.4061.

CPL Reciprocal Borrower Policies

For instructions on validating a reciprocal borrower with a CPL card, see the PDF document attached below.

Circulation policy changes approved by the Chicago Public Library Board at its December 20, 2011 meeting (effective January 2012).

These changes are necessitated by the reduction in operating funds and staff of the Chicago Public Library in Mayor Emanuel's 2012 budget. These changes affect all Chicago Public Library cardholders, and as noted, reciprocal borrowers of the Chicago Public Library.

1. Holds Policy for Library Materials: Current policy is to permit all patrons to a limit of 5 Holds pending at a time. In 2012, the policy will reduce the number to 3 Holds pending per patron record. This reduction does not impact Holds in transit or Holds waiting for pickup; and does not change CPL's total circulation limit of 30 items per patron record.

2. Library Card Status: Current policy blocks any patron account that owes any amount of fine or fee to CPL. New policy revises the definition of a library card in good standing to any patron account owing less than $10.00. Good standing means access to all library services that apply to that card: circulation, accessing electronic resources, online holds placement, online renewal. (Amended, effective March 31, 2014)

3. Borrowing privileges: Current policy allows patrons in good standing to download electronic format materials regardless of type of library card. New policy eliminates borrowing of CPL downloadable materials for patrons holding reciprocal library cards, deposit cards and PC reservation cards for non-local patrons. This revision to eliminate borrowing of CPL downloadable materials on reciprocal cards now makes the Chicago Public Library's policies consistent with policies previously instituted by reciprocal institutions toward Chicago patrons. In addition, Chicago Public Library patrons who enter into a reciprocal card arrangement with another library will be limited to a maximum of 50 items (maximum of 10 audiovisual items) on their account at any time, which is CPL's policy. If a reciprocal library allows its patron to circulate more than 50 items, CPL patrons holding a reciprocal card will be limited to 50 items only from that reciprocal institution. (Amended, effective March 31, 2014)

If you have questions, please contact CPL Commissioner's office at 312.747.4090.