Circulation Policy


The purpose of this Circulation Policy is to make the services of the Library consistent for all users, to define categories of users and their privileges, and to establish responsibilities for both Library and user.  A user is a person who makes use of the materials in the Library, whether inside the building or elsewhere.  


Michigan Compiled Law (MCL) 397.206 states that the library is for the “use of inhabitants where located.”  Further, MCL 397.214 states that a library “may enter into a contract with another township, city, or village to permit the residents of that other township, city, or village the full use of the library and reading room, upon terms and conditions to be agreed upon between the library board of directors and the legislative body of the other township, city, or village.”  In keeping with the intent of Michigan Complied Law regarding libraries, a person may apply for a library card with the Library as a resident user if the user lives in, owns residential property in, or owns a boat slip in the City or Township of St. Joseph.  Each user must apply for his/her own library card. 

A library card is issued to a resident user upon the completion of a registration card and the establishment of residency with written documentation of the user’s current address.  The individual making the request must provide adequate proof of ownership of a residence or boat slip.  Acceptable forms of identification include a Michigan Drivers license, Michigan Registration card, or Social Security Card together with proof of residence.  It is the responsibility of the borrower to notify the library of any updates or changes to permissions on the account at the time the changes occur. Resident borrowing privileges are valid for 2 years and may be renewed for additional 2 year periods; borrowers are required to verify and update contact information and residency with staff at that time.

Reciprocal Borrowing Agreements
The Maud Preston Palenske Library has reciprocal borrowing agreements with most other libraries in Berrien County.  Residents from other townships, cities, or villages who have a valid library card from their home library may be eligible for reciprocal borrowing privileges if a reciprocal borrowing agreement is in place with their home library.  Individuals applying for reciprocal borrowing privileges must comply with Maud Preston Palenske Library’s policies and procedures, the terms of the reciprocal borrowing agreement, and must provide a photo id and proof of current address. It is the responsibility of the borrower to notify the library of any updates or changes to permissions on the account at the time the changes occur.  Reciprocal borrowing privileges are valid for 2 years and may be renewed for additional 2 year periods; borrowers are required to verify and update contact information and residency with staff at that time.

Fee cards

Fee cards may be purchased by persons who do not own and live in residential property or on a boat in a boat slip in the City of St. Joseph or St. Joseph Charter Township, by persons who are not served by a library that has a reciprocal borrowing agreement with Maud Preston Palenske Library, or by persons from another state or country.  Immediate family members living at the same address as the card holder are also eligible to use the household account at no additional cost.  Members of the household will be listed on the account. A fee card is good for one year, for a cost of $100.   Fee cards may also be purchased for three months ($25), six months ($50), or nine months ($75). Individuals applying for a fee card must comply with Maud Preston Palenske Library’s policies and procedures and must provide a photo id and proof of current address.

Institutional Cards

If a non-profit or educational institution within Berrien County requests a library card for use by its staff, a card may be issued after an application is applied for by the institution’s director.   Doing so, the institution assumes responsibility for any materials checked out on the account, including loss, damage, or fines incurred through the use of the card.   The card must be presented at the time of checkout or the person using the account must have permission on file with the library from the institution’s director to use the account and must provide a picture ID for verification. It is the responsibility of the institution’s Director to notify the library of any updates or changes to permissions on the account at the time the changes occur.  

Cardholder Responsibilities

A parent or guardian must sign the registration card for a minor younger than age 16, accepting responsibility for the minor’s use of the library and any loss or damage to library materials, although the minor may sign the actual library card.

It is the responsibility of the library cardholder (or parent or guardian listed on the account) to apprise the Library, in a timely manner, of any changes to or updates needed on the account, such as a change of address, name, or permissions on file. 

All Library cardholders, including reciprocal borrowing cardholders, are responsible for all loss of or damage to materials signed out on their library cards.

All outstanding fines and obligations to the Library must be paid before a library card may be renewed.


Upon presentation of a valid library card, users may borrow materials for 3 (three) weeks, with the following exceptions:

• Reference books, vertical file materials, and equipment circulate only at the discretion of the Director
• The most recent issues of magazines do not circulate
• Newspapers do not circulate
• For items borrowed from other libraries (MEL and Interlibrary Loan), the length of loan is determined by the lending library

A total of up to 50 items may be checked out on a borrower’s card at any one time.

Special Circulation Restrictions

• No more than 10 DVDs may be checked out at one time.

• No more than 10 music CDs may be checked out at one time.

• Users in good standing may request an extended circulation period for an extended absence from the area.

• Shut-ins or other persons who are not able to visit the Library regularly due to illness or other special circumstances may borrow materials for six weeks (forty-two days) and are eligible for the Library’s “Library 2 You” service.

• Board members and volunteers may borrow materials upon initial checkout for six weeks (forty-two days), with the exception of new items, DVDs, and music CDs, which have a three week initial checkout period.  Renewals of all materials are subject to renewal circulation periods listed below.

• The Director may make special arrangements as needed to accommodate unusual situations. For example, the Director may limit the number of holiday books that can be checked out by one individual or may limit the number of renewals on such materials.

Material Renewals

Materials may be renewed up to two times, for three weeks at a time, unless a hold has been placed on an item.   MEL items can only be renewed one time. Renewals of MEL items can only be done two days prior to and including the day that the item is due. Loans of Reference books, vertical file materials, and equipment cannot be extended without approval from the Director. 


• The Library accepts holds for all library materials
• The hold service is on a first come, first served basis
• In the event that a patron in the library selects items from the shelf that another patron has put on hold, the patron who has the items in hand will take precedence over the patron with the hold on the item.   The hold will remain in effect until it is fulfilled or the patron cancels the hold 
• Materials will be held for 7 (seven) days after the patron is notified
• Patrons may hold up to 10 items at one time


Library staff will make every attempt to notify patrons of overdue materials.  However, it is the user’s responsibility to return library materials in good condition and in a timely manner and to keep account information current.

Overdue fines

Overdue notices are sent when materials are two weeks overdue and again when the materials are three weeks overdue (final notice).   If the materials are still not returned, the materials are then considered lost, and the borrower will be billed the replacement cost plus a processing fee for each missing item. 

Fines are charged for all overdue materials (including materials received through interlibrary loan) at the following rates:

• $.20 per day per item
• $10 maximum fine per item
• A grace period of one day is in effect for all materials.   If the grace period is missed fine accruals back date to the original due date

Lost or Damaged items

• The library does not issue refunds for nor does it accept replacements for items checked out and lost by the cardholder.   Should an item for which a lost payment has been remitted be found at a later date, that item will be deemed to be the property of the patron who paid for it
• Lost items and irreparably damaged items will be billed to the borrower’s account at the Library’s replacement cost, plus a $5.00 processing fee per item
• Damages to cases, barcodes, bags, library cards, or individual books on CD will be charged at the rate noted on the library’s damage cost assessment sheet.  These rates will be reviewed and updated annually by the Library Director and Library Department Supervisors.

Long Overdue – Delinquent Accounts

When total fines/fees accumulate to $10, services (including computer use) will be withheld until the balance is paid.  When fines and fees exceed $75, and after the library has followed and completed the overdue notification process, unresolved charges on accounts are referred to a collection agency.  In such instances, the patron will be assessed a $10 recovery fee and the patron’s borrowing privileges will be suspended until the charges on the account are resolved. 


Subscription Services

The library subscribes to various downloadable services and databases that are available to resident users and fee card borrowers, provided their registration is current and they do not owe fines or have long overdue physical materials on their account.  Due to contractual obligations reciprocal borrowers are excluded from these services, though they may have access to similar services through their home library.

MEL (Michigan Electronic Library)

MEL is a service offered to users who want library resources not owned by this library.   Through a network of libraries throughout the State of Michigan, another MEL participating library is found that owns the wanted material and will lend it for the use of our patron.  Resident users and fee card borrowers are encouraged to use this service, provided their registration is current and they do not owe fines or have long overdue materials.  Reciprocal borrowers are excluded from this service, though they may have access to this service through their home library.  If items are not available through the MEL system, patrons are then directed to utilize our Interlibrary Loan Policy and Procedures for obtaining materials.


Approved by the Board of Trustees of the Maud Preston Palenske Memorial Library at their meeting held on September 28, 2021.