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Circulation FAQ: Fines & damaged material

Gateway to MIT Libraries policies on requesting and borrowing books and other materials.

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Your Account in Barton

Use Your Account in Barton to:

  • Request and renew library materials
  • See what you have checked out
  • See your library fines

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More information on using Your Account


Fines amounts depend on the borrowing period for the item that is overdue.

  • 60 days - $.50 per day
  • 14 days - $.50 per day
  • 7 days - $.50 per day
  • 3 days - $.50 per day
  • 1 day - $.50 per day
  • hourly loans - $2 per hour
  • recalled loans - $2 per day

Several options are available:

  • With cash or check at any MIT Library service desk. Checks should be made payable to MIT Libraries.
  • With MITPAY. Fines are transferred to Student Financial Services (SFS) on the first business day of each month. Once fines are transferred, students may pay through MITPAY. Faculty, staff and outside users whose fines have been transferred will receive a bill from Accounts Receivable (AR) with instructions on where to send payment. All fines transferred to AR incur an additional $5 fee.

Please email if you believe one of the reasons considered basis for appeal applies to your situation. Include specific information about the item, associated charge, date and place where you returned the material. Library staff will review your appeal and respond within a week.</p>

The following are reasons that are considered basis for an appeal:

  • Library error processing the transaction
  • Family emergency
  • Serious illness or injury
  • Destruction of property due to natural disaster or theft (documentation required)

All library users are expected to follow library policy and basic guidelines when borrowing materials. Failure to follow these guidelines will result in the accrual of fines. Such fines will not be considered for appeal.

  • Stay familiar with the Libraries’ circulation policies.
  • Read your library courtesy and overdue notices.
  • Update the library when your home address or email changes.
  • Check your loans regularly through Your Account.
  • Return items on time.
  • Do not loan items you have borrowed to a friend.
  • Return items before going on leave or vacation.
  • Return items before leaving the country.
  • Avoid returning items by mail whenever possible. Items that are received after the due date and grace period have passed will accrue fines.
  • Renew items on or before the due date through Your Account or by telephone.

A fee of $135 ($120 for the replacement of material + a $15 processing fee) is automatically charged for loans that are more than 30 days overdue. There are two exceptions - recalled loans become long overdue in 1 week; hourly loans become long overdue in approximately 24 hours.

Overdue fines cap when the replacement fee is charged to your account. Capped overdue fines will range between $15-30 depending on the loan period and fine rate for the overdue material. The $135 charge will be waived when overdue materials are returned. The overdue fine(s) will remain on your account.

If you lost a library item, you need to replace it or you will automatically be charged the $135 replacement fee when the item becomes long overdue. Contact Circulation and a staff member will advise you of your options

Questions about material borrowed through Interlibrary Borrowing (ILB) should be sent to Ask Us or see their website for more information. We cannot accept replacement copies for these materials because the Libraries must pay the lending library for the lost item.

If you paid the replacement cost for an MIT Libraries item within the last 12 months, please email Circulation with details about the item. If more than a year has passed since you paid the replacement cost, you are not eligible for a refund.

Refunds cannot be issued for materials borrowed from other libraries using ILB, Borrow Direct, or WorldCat Local.

Email Please provide specific information about when and where the item(s) was returned. The item(s) will be searched by staff, but will remain on your account during the search process.

Staff will check the shelves and staff processing areas of the owning library, as well as the other MIT Libraries. If the claimed returned item is not found in the first search, a secondary search will be repeated a month later. Staff will contact you when the book is located or the search period has elapsed to notify you of the results and next steps.

Borrowing privileges are blocked if you have:

  • 2 long overdue items
  • 1 long overdue recalled item
  • Are an MIT community member with $270 or more in unpaid fines
  • Are a non-MIT user with $25 or more in unpaid fines

You must return long overdue items and/or pay your fines to restore your borrowing privileges.

Library patrons receive courtesy notices by email 1 week before the due date and on the due date. Additional courtesy notices are sent when an item is overdue or has been recalled by another user.

MIT community members: You should contact Circulation if you think your email address may be incorrect. A staff member will advise you on how to update your email.

Non-MIT Users: You should inquire in person at any library service desk if you think your email address may be incorrect or you want to update it.

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Damaged library material

Please report damage or loss to the library service desk. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may be responsible for replacing the book.

Yes, the use of highlighters, pens and pencils in library books is damage. What might help you also might make it more difficult for someone else to use the book. Besides, it's simply bad for the books. You will be fined a replacement charge for any books which have been damaged by underlining or highlighting.

Do not use stickies or Post-its in library materials. The glue is not acid-free and will harm library materials. Book pages can be torn easily when stickies are removed. If you need to bookmark certain pages, use non-adhesive paper or thin cardboard bookmarks.

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