Circulation Division

Circulation Services
Urgently Obtaining Material that has been Checked Out


Princeton University Library policy and New Jersey State law require that information about library patrons and the material they have checked out be kept confidential.

If a library item is checked out and needed by another library user, Princeton faculty, staff, and students may request unavailable items via BorrowDirect or Interlibrary Loan (ILL). BorrowDirect will generally make the requested item available within 4 days; ILL, depending on the supplying library, may take longer. The requesting borrower may also place a recall for the needed item. Placing a recall will alert the current borrower that the item is needed and should be returned within 10 days of the request. These options should be suggested to the requestor as the primary means for obtaining books that are currently checked out.

On occasion, a Princeton faculty or staff member or student may need an item urgently, and the options described above may not provide access to the item with the desired expediency. Library staff will mediate the request to aid in determining the urgency of the need and the appropriate course of action. Each library will determine which staff will be responsible for this mediation and subsequent action. This will generally be a senior staff member or the librarian. In such instances, the following procedure should be observed:

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Under NO CIRCUMSTANCE should the name of the current borrower be given to the person making the request.
If necessary, refer the requestor to the library policy statement available in print and online and/or to the sign posted at or near the circulation desk, or to your Division or Department head.

- Ask the requestor if he or she would like to use the Borrow Direct or Recall options. Explain these services if necessary.
If the Borrow Direct and Recall options are not feasible, use the manual “Hold/Recall Request” form to obtain the name and contact information of the person making the request as well as information about the item being requested. Inform the patron that we will contact the current borrower and request that the item be returned for his or her use.

- After obtaining the relevant information, library staff will contact the current borrower to request that he or she return the item for use by the other patron.
This use may be short-term as often only a citation needs to be confirmed, or a fact checked. The original borrower may have the book again once the requestor has used it.
Contact will be made by the most efficient and suitable means (telephone, email, or whatever means are the most effective and appropriate to the specific situation)

- As an alternative, staff may also ask if the requestor will give permission to share his or her name and contact information with the current borrower. If permission is granted, and the current borrower is willing, both patrons may make arrangements on their own to share the item. Staff will not be responsible for making arrangements between the parties.
The original borrower should be made aware that he or she retains responsibility for the item until it is returned.

Every attempt should be made to process this request on the same day it is made, or no later than the next day.