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Mendocino County Library Policies and Guidelines

Library Policies and Guidelines

Mendocino County Library is a free public library. With a library card, anyone may borrow materials, order books, use the public access computers, or use the databases for magazines and newspapers.

Children in the Library: Parents are responsible for their own children in the library. We encourage parents to guide their children in library and computer use. Library staff are not responsible for monitoring items checked out or monitoring internet use by patrons of any age.

Library Card Information

The Mendocino County Library is a free, public library. With a library card, anyone may borrow materials, request books, use the public access computers, or use the databases for magazines and newspapers.

Library Card Holder Privileges and Responsibilities

The Library is committed to providing excellent customer service as well as free, convenient, and reasonable access to the Library’s collections and services. The Library must balance this commitment with its responsibility as a steward of resources paid for with public funds. To protect each individual’s access to information and services, the Library has established rules governing the circulation of Library materials. These rules protect the borrowing privileges of Library patrons and preserve and protect the Library’s materials

Cardholder Rights and Privileges

  1. General Library Cards are issued free of charge to any resident of California or anyone who owns property in the state. Applications must be turned in up to 15 minutes before closing.
  2. General Library Cards may be used at any Mendocino County Library branch. Mendocino Library card holders may also use their cards at Lake County Libraries and Sonoma County Libraries.
  3. A person may have only one Mendocino County Library Card and account.
  4. A General Library Card entitles the cardholder to full access to the collections, electronic information, and services of the Library without charge.
    • “Collections” includes the use of all formats, including books, discs (CD/DVD), and other tangible formats.
    • “Electronic information” includes information available via a computer, including but not limited to the public catalog, online reference sources, and downloadable content.
    • “Services” includes, but is not limited to special collections, internet access, interlibrary loan services, and placing requests.
  5. Limited Use Cards are issued under the following circumstances:
    • Out of state residents who are visiting the area
    • California residents with no address verification
    • People under 18 without an address verification or parent/legal guardian’s signature.
  6. Limited Use Cards are good for access to most library services except for programs such as Interlibrary Loans, the Zip program, circulating technology (such as iPads, Kindles, laptops), and some online services. Limited Use Cards are limited to 4 checkouts at one time.
  7. eCards are available for internet access within the library and/or access to some of the electronic resources.
  8. Online Cards can be made through our Find Catalog and can be used for most online resources. The Online Cards need to be converted to General Cards before physical items can be checked out and before some resources are accessible.
  9. The Library reserves the right to issue special cards such as the Educator Card or the Agency Card for which non-standard borrowing privileges apply.

 Rights of Adults & Children

  1. Adults are responsible, physically and financially, for all materials checked out on their own card.
  2. Parents or guardians are responsible, physically and financially, for all materials checked out on their child’s card, ages 17 and younger.
  3. If a parent or guardian wishes to cancel a child’s library card account, the adult should contact a local branch library in writing or in person.
  4. The Library does not provide group library card accounts.  Each person must have his or her own library card account.

Cardholder Responsibilities

  1. Patrons are financially responsible for all items checked out on their cards until those items are returned. The responsibility for returning materials on time rests with the patron and is not dependent upon receipt of a notice from the Library.
  2. The Library requires that each applicant for a library card provide information to enable the Library to contact the cardholder about their account.
    • Adults (people 18 years and older) must provide an acceptable form of identification and proof of address.
    • Youth (people 17 years old and younger) must provide an acceptable form of personal identification or a parent/guardian with an acceptable form of identification, proof of address, and an application signed by a parent or guardian acknowledging their financial responsibility. The application informs parents and guardians of their responsibility for resources checked out on their child’s card.
    • The list of acceptable forms of identification is available online and at all public service desks.
  3. Cardholders are responsible for late fees and charges for lost, destroyed or damaged materials.
  4. Notifications about library services or materials are sent using the contact information supplied by the cardholder.
  5. It is the library card holder’s responsibility to inform the library about any updates to the contact information in their library account.
  6. Lost or stolen library cards should be reported to the Library immediately to avoid any fees incurred by an unauthorized user.
  7. Anyone requesting a replacement card must show an acceptable form of identification.
  8. A library card holder’s right to use that card to checkout materials is denied if:
    • The fines and fees charged to the account are above the threshold listed below.
    • The cardholder has the maximum number of items checked out to the account.
    • The library card has been reported lost.
    • The patron has been excluded from using the library under the Library’s Standards of Behavior policy.

Circulation Parameters

Unpaid Fines and Fees

A patron with more than $20 in fines and fees on their library card account is blocked from checking out materials until the amount owed is lower than $20.

Billing notices are sent to patrons who have delinquent accounts that total more than $100.

If the account is still delinquent thirty (30) days after a billing notice is sent, the Library forwards the account to its Collection Agency. If the account is referred to the collection agency, the cardholder must pay a $10 service fee in addition to the amount owed on the account.Waiving Fines & Fees

Fines may be waived under the following circumstances:

  • An inadvertent error in library routines.
  • Unexpected library closure.
  • A natural disaster (fire, flood, earthquake, etc.)
  • Participation in a program such as “food for fines”

Loan Periods for Circulating Material

 Material type Loan period
 Books  21 days
 Periodicals  21 days
 DVDs with 1-2 discs  21 days
 DVDs with 3 or more discs  21 days
 Audiobooks  21 days
 Music CDs  21 days
 Games/various items  varies
 E-books  21 days
 E-audiobooks  21 days
 Laptops/various items  3 hours – in library use only
 Do-it-Yourself Toolkits  21 days

Mendocino County Library may pilot new formats and collections using loan periods not listed in this Appendix.

Loan limits A general cardholder may have 50 items checked out at one time. Of those 50 items, no more than two may be video or board games, and no more than 20 items may be DVDs. Special items such as tablets, laptops and games may only be checked out to Mendocino General cardholders and need to be returned directly to the lending branch.

Limited Use cards

Limited Use cardholders may have 4 items checked out at one time and are limited to 4 requests. Limited Use cards need to be renewed annually.


Items may renew up to three times if there are no requests on the item. If there are requests on the item, it cannot be renewed. If an item is in a special collection such as a “Lucky Day” item, renewals are not permitted.


A cardholder may have a total of 30 requests at one time.A requested item is held for a patron for 10 calendar days before being returned to the shelf or sent to the next patron in the request queue or returned to the shelves.Any item on request for a patron will remain active until filled or for 270 calendar days, or until the item is no longer available, whichever comes first.Fines and Charges

Library items may be returned to any library branch in Mendocino, Lake or Sonoma counties. Late fees are charged according to the branch the items were checked out at. There is a book drop available for use when the branches are closed. Patrons will be charged for overdue, lost or damaged items.

Schedule of charges

 Material type Loan period
Adult items  $0.25/day up to $10.00 per item
Children’s items  $0.10/day up to $2.00 per item
Item damaged beyond use  List price as indicated in library system
Lost and not returned  List price as indicated in library system
Interlibrary loan for our patrons  $2.00 each, possible additional charges by lending library
Interlibrary loan fee to other states  $10.00 each
Damaged Interlibrary loan item  Fee determined by lending library
Lost Interlibrary loan item  Fee determined by lending library
Printing and photocopies   $0.10 per page
Flash drives   $5.00 each
Ear buds   $3.00 each

Internet Use and Guidelines

User Responsibilities

All users of the Internet at this library are expected to use it in a responsible and courteous manner. Please follow all Internet related rules and regulations.


  • Know and comply with general library rules of conduct
  • Use for authorized items only
  • Respect intellectual property right by making only authorized copies of copyrighted licensed software or data
  • Respect other’s privacy
  • Use only for legal and ethical purposes
  • Use computer equipment as is


  • Do not alter, damage or delete software
  • Do not damage or change the equipment configuration
  • Do not propagate computer worms or viruses
  • Do not misrepresent yourself or another user
  • Do not attempt to gain access to files or passwords belonging to other individuals or computer networks.


  • Copy and use of copyrighted, licensed and protected software
  • Transmission or access of obscene or sexually explicit material
  • Sending hate mail or using the Internet for harassment or discrimination
  • Transmission of material in violation of U.S. or state regulations

User Guidelines


  • First time users must demonstrate the ability to turn on a computer, load programs and CD-ROMS and show understanding of the instructions and HELP screens.
  • Users, twelve years or younger, must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, caretaker,. Children may not be left alone at the library.
  • Only one person over twelve years old may use each computer at a time, unless staff grants permission. People may not congregate at the computers.
  • Computer patrons assume responsibility for software during use.
  • Personal belongings should not be left unattended.
  • Computer copies cost ten cents per page.
  • Use appropriate language, respect the privacy of others and do no disrupt other users.
  • Internet sources do not always provide accurate, complete or current information. All source materials should be questioned for validity.
  • Mendocino County Libraries reserve the right to determine the nature of inappropriate computer use. Suspected internet abuse may be monitored.
  • Penalty for abuse of these guidelines is possible revocation of computer privileges for a period not less than two weeks and not more than twelve months. Appeals may be made to the library Branch Manager.

Mendocino county Library, in response to advances in technology and the emerging needs of the community, endeavors to develop collections, resources and services that meet the cultural, informational, recreational, and educational needs of a diverse community. One of its services is providing public access to the Internet.

The Internet is a global communication resource with a highly diverse user population. From its very nature the user cannot expect all sources on the Internet to provide accurate, complete or current information. The Library has no control over the content of the Internet and cannot be held responsible for its content. The Library does not censor access to library materials nor does it protect patrons from information. Library patrons accessing the Internet should use it at their own discretion. Patrons found accessing pornographic or offensive sites will be asked to leave, and may lose their computer privileges, if so determined by the Branch Librarian.

All Internet resources accessible through the Library are provided equally to all Library users. Parents or guardians are responsible for their children’s access of the Internet, not the Library and its staff. Parents- and only parents- may restrict their children- and only their children- from use of the library’s public Internet access and should monitor their children’s sessions.

Other than restriction of children’s access based on parental approval, limitations on the amount of time a person can use workstations will be imposed to make workstations more accessible to all potential users. A limitation of two persons per workstation is required in order to reduce disturbing conversation and to discourage behavioral problems. Exceptions may be made for families and special circumstances to be determined by staff.

All public access computers, catalog computers, copiers, and printers are turned off 15 minutes before closing.

Standards of Behavior

We welcome you to the Library. Everyone has a right to quality Library service in an atmosphere that is calm, safe and free of disturbances from others. While you are here, please be considerate of others. The Library has created this Code of Conduct to ensure a positive Library experience for everyone who visits any Mendocino County Library.

Respect Library Rules

Patrons must follow rules and policies of the Mendocino County Libraries.

Food or Drink

Eating and drinking in the Library are allowed only in designated areas or for programs and meetings held in the meeting room area of the Library.

Restroom Use

Using the public restrooms for shaving, bathing, or as laundry facilities is prohibited.

Selling, Soliciting, Mass Distribution of Materials or Panhandling

Selling, soliciting, panhandling, or mass distribution of unapproved materials is prohibited.

Public Displays of Obscene Material

Public displays of obscene or visually disturbing material that interferes with the ability of others to use the library, or as prohibited by law, is prohibited.


Loitering in the Library, on Library steps, entryway or Library property thereby creating a nuisance to those who are trying to enter or exit the building or to use Library resources is prohibited. Patrons shall be engaged in activities associated with the use of a public library while in the building.


Sleeping is prohibited.

Furniture and Property