Policy Statement

Policy Statement  Trial Court Law Libraries circulation policy

Date: 02/19/2024
Organization: Trial Court Law Libraries
Referenced Sources: M.G.L. c. 266, § 99A
M.G.L. c. 266, § 100

Most materials circulate to provide patron use of the materials out of the library.

To borrow materials from the Mass. Trial Court Law Libraries, a library patron needs to register as a borrower in person at one of the law libraries and obtain a borrower's card. One form of identification with a current home address is necessary as well as a home telephone number to obtain a borrower's card. The borrower's card will be mailed to the home address and new borrowers will be limited to borrowing 1 item on the day of registration. After the borrower receives their card by mail, the card will need to be presented to borrow all other library materials. There will be a $2 fee for the replacement of a lost borrower card.

Patrons may choose to have a preferred contact address (different from their home address) for circulation activities such as reserves and overdue notices. Circulation notices will be e-mailed, or, if the patron has requested, mailed to the preferred address.

Library records are not public documents.

Contact   for Trial Court Law Libraries circulation policy

Trial Court Law Libraries

Table of Contents

I. Borrower responsibility

Due to the specialized nature of legal materials, specifically the need for timely access, library patrons are expected to respect the circulation loan periods. Borrowers are responsible for all items checked out under their card number. A person may not use another patron's library card to borrow materials. A Trial Court Law Library (TCLL) borrower's card shall be presented at the check-out. Borrowers are responsible for notifying the TCLLs and providing updated contact information whenever registration information changes.

II. Borrower eligibility and registration

Persons living, working, or attending a college or university in Massachusetts are eligible for a library card. Adults (age 18 or older) and minors must apply for a borrower's card in person at a Trial Court Law Library. Court employees with a .jud, .appct, or .sjc email address can fill out a form on the TCLL website.

A. For persons living in Massachusetts: A valid State driver's license, a valid State-issued photo ID, or a valid US passport with a current home address.

B. For persons working in Massachusetts: A valid State driver's license, a valid State-issued ID, or a valid US passport with current home address, along with a work ID or letter from their employer.

C. For persons attending college in Massachusetts: A valid State driver's license or valid State-issued ID and a student ID or school documentation.

D. If a person does not have the above documents or the mailing address does not match the address on the ID, they may present any one identification from each of the following two lists:

  1. Current photo ID
    • Government-issued cards such as Military ID, FID card, etc.
    • School or work ID
    • Alien registration card
  2. Address verification (must include name and current home street address)
    • Rent receipt confirming 30-day occupancy
    • Utility bill dated within the past 30 days
    • Government-issued documents such as a motor vehicle registration
    • Bank check or deposit slip with name and address imprint
    • Letter dated within the last 30 days from a social service provider, landlord,
      employer, etc., verifying the address

A post office box or business address is not acceptable.

E. If you cannot provide the above identification and address verification, the TCLLs will mail you a letter. When you return in person with the letter, you will be given a six-month library card and may borrow 1 item at a time. At the end of six months, you must confirm your current address with the law library to extend it. If you obtain an ID and verification, your six-month card will be converted to a two-year library card.

F. A minor may obtain a card in person with the co-signature of a parent or legal guardian who is a TCLL card holder in good standing. A parent or legal guardian must fill out a registration form if they are not a registered TCLL borrower, even if they do not receive an actual borrower's card. Both registration forms will be kept on file.

G. A completed, signed registration form with a current home address and phone number is required before issuing a card. A patron's email address is used strictly for future library communication. Email addresses are not given or sold to third parties. The law library staff will verify eligibility but not record ID information such as a driver's license, state-issued identification card number, or passport number. Birth dates are entered into the circulation system.

H. The borrower's card is mailed to the home address and may be used at any Trial Court Law Library. If a borrower loses their original card, a maximum of two replacement cards will be issued free of charge. Any additional replacement cards cost $5.00 and must be paid for by a check or money order made payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. A borrower's card remains active for two years from the registration date. To renew a card, a borrower must contact a TCLL and update their registration information in person, by phone, or via email.

I. Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266, Section 99A, "the giving of a false identification or fictitious name, address or place of employment with the intent to deceive, or borrowing or attempting to borrow any library material or property by: the use of a library card issued to another without the other's consent; the use of a library card knowing that it is revoked, canceled or expired; or, the use of a library card knowing that it is falsely made, counterfeit or materially altered shall be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars nor more than one thousand dollars."

III. Borrowing limits

The maximum number of borrowed items is:

  • New borrowers may borrow 1 item until they receive their card in the mail.
  • Adults may check out a maximum of 10 items at any given time.
  • Minors may borrow up to 5 items at a time.
  • Adults with a six-month card may borrow 1 item at a time.

The TCLLs reserve the right to restrict the number of items borrowed on a single topic, change the number of maximum borrowed items at a given time, and recall any borrowed library item at any time and for any reason.

IV. Renewals

Materials with a 24-hour circulation period are not renewable. Materials with a 14-day loan period may be renewed once for an additional 14 days unless there is a hold on the item. Renewal requests can be made in person, by phone, or via the TCLL website/catalog (https://www.mass.gov/how-to/renewing-books-from-the-trial-court-law-libraries) as long as the material is not overdue. Renewed materials are due 28 days from the original check-out date.

V. Return and recall of library materials

Borrowers may return library items to any Trial Court Law Library. Most TCLLs do not have outdoor book drops for returning items outside of normal courthouse hours. When materials are recalled, patrons receive a phone call and/or email asking them to return the borrowed items. Recalled items should be returned to the original lending library within five business days. If the materials are not returned within five business days, the patron's borrowing privileges will be revoked for 30 days from the date a law library receives the materials.

VI. Overdue materials

A. Overdue notices are generated by the law library where the patron initially registered and not from other TCLLs from where the materials were borrowed. The notices are either mailed or emailed. A courtesy reminder notice is emailed before due dates if the patron has made that election on their registration form.

B. A borrower cannot borrow additional items from any Trial Court Law Library if any overdue or lost materials are on their record.

C. If an item becomes more than seven days overdue, the borrower's circulation privileges at all Trial Court Law Libraries are suspended for a period equal to the time elapsed between the final due date and the time the item was returned or the replacement cost was paid, or the item was replaced, whichever occurs first.

D. If various items are overdue for different periods, the length of suspension will equal the longest overdue period. During the suspension period, borrowers may borrow only 1 item. If items are a year or more overdue, once the materials are returned, the borrower is restricted to borrowing 1 item at a time for the next 12 months.

VII. Lost or damaged materials

Libraries reserve the right to revoke patrons' borrowing privileges for lost materials. An item is deemed lost if not returned within 30 days after the original due date or, if renewed, 30 days after the renewal date. For example, if an item is due on March 1, it is deemed lost as of March 31. If an item is renewed until March 15, it would be considered lost as of April 14.

A. Borrowers are assessed the cost of replacing any lost or damaged item or a comparable substitute if the item is out of print or unavailable. If a book is out of print, the original cost is unknown, and there is no equivalent substitute, the borrower will be charged $.10/page. The replacement cost for CDs is $25.00 each. In addition, there is a $25.00 processing fee for each lost or damaged item. After charges are paid in full for items that are a year or more overdue, the patron is limited to borrowing 1 item for the next 12 months.

B. Under Mass. General Laws chapter 266, sec. 99A & 100, stealing, destroying, or not returning library materials within 30 days after receiving an overdue notice is a criminal offense. The Trial Court Law Libraries may bring criminal charges against borrowers who do not return or pay the replacement cost of lost or damaged library materials.

VIII. Temporary electronic services card (e-cards)

Eligible persons may obtain a temporary e-card to access online resources remotely. Patrons can contact the TCLLs via electronic means or phone and register with any TCLL. A person's name, Massachusetts address, phone number, and email address are required. E-cards expire in 120 days or upon in-person registration and are not renewable at any future time. The e-card can be converted into a library card with full borrowing privileges by visiting the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries anytime. The borrower must present a valid photo ID and verification as stated in Section III (A), (B), (C), or (D) above.

IX. Appeal process

An individual may appeal the enforcement of this policy by submitting a written letter or email to the Manager of Law Libraries. Individuals can expect a written decision after a complete review of all documentation. The Manager of Law Libraries' decision shall be final.

Contact   for Trial Court Law Libraries circulation policy

Referenced Sources:

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