Checkout Policies / Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQs)

NOTE: This page is based on our official Policies & Procedures: www.mcpl.us/about/policies

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Checkout limits & late fees are as follows:
    Item Type Limit Checkout Period Late Fees
    Books (no limit) New: 14 days
    Others: 28 days
    10¢ / day
    Audio Books (no limit) 28 days 10¢ / day
    Music CDs 25 items 14 days 10¢ / day
    DVD TV Series 6 items 14 days $1 / day
    DVD Feature Films 6 items 7 days $1 / day
    Magazines (no limit) 14 days 10¢ / day
    Video Games 1 item 14 days $1 / day
    Playaways 3 items 28 days $1 / day
    Artwork 10 items 56 days $1 / day
    Book Discussion Kits (no limit) 56 days 10¢ / day
    Traveling Tales 1 item 14 days $1 / day
    E-readers 1 device 14 days $1 / day
    Laptops / Tablets 1 device 2 hours (in-house) $10 / hour
    Interlibrary Loan 5 items / month (as noted) $1 / day
  • How can I get a library card? — Marathon County Public Library cards are available FREE to all residents of Wisconsin. You may register for a library card online or complete an application form at any MCPL location. You will need to provide a Wisconsin driver's license or ID card with current address.
  • What is my PIN? — Your PIN should be the last four digits of the phone number we have on file for you. If you've tried this, and your PIN still doesn't seem to work, please contact us. (This usually indicates that your account is up for renewal (occurs every three years), or that we have an outdated phone number on file for you. A valid PIN and library card barcode number are required for checking your library account online, reserving and logging on to library lab computers and using self-checkout.
  • Do I need a library card for each MCPL location? — No. You may use your card at any of our nine MCPL locations, plus any library that is a member of V-Cat in the Wisconsin Valley Library Service.
  • Where can I use my library card? — All cards issued at MCPL allow access to the following libraries:
    (Click here for a map of all public libraries within the Wisconsin Valley Library Service.)

  • Why can't I request / reserve certain items? — Most often, this happens when trying to request a "new" or "high demand" item that isn't owned by your local library (e.g. if you live in Marathon County, the item isn't owned by any MCPL location). Your best options are to either find and request a different version of the item that is owned by your library, or if this is isn't possible, submit a purchase suggestion. Other reasons your request may be denied: (1) You may have already requested the item (check your account); (2) the only available item is damaged, lost, or otherwise unavailable (check "status" in the item's record); (3) you have 75 other items already on hold or request (the account maximum).
  • How long is my card good for? — Library cards are valid for 3 years, after which you will need to contact us to update your registration information and make any other necessary changes.
  • Should I notify the library if I change my address, phone number or email? — Yes, please! You may review your contact information by logging in to to the Library Catalog (V-Cat).
  • What if I lose my card? — Please call the library immediately and report your card as lost! You are responsible for anything checked out using your card, even if that person isn't you; telling us to set your card to "lost" will prevent any future abuse of your card and account. You may purchase a new card for $2, or you may be eligible to receive a free card if your account is up for renewal (which occurs every three years).
  • Can I get a library card for my child? — Yes! You can decide when your child is old enough to get their own card, but please be aware:
    1. As parent/guardian, you are responsible for all items borrowed — including any fees for late, missing or damaged items.
    2. Your own account must be in good standing (under $10 in fines).
    3. Applications must be made in person — i.e. you and the child in question must be present.
    4. Your signature, proof of current address, and Wisconsin ID number are are all required on the application form.
  • May I check out items or use a library computer without my card? — Yes, but only if you are able to provide identification that proves the account is registered to you. This is almost always your driver's license or a state-issued ID. (School IDs generally are not accepted.) We cannot guarantee that we will be able to access your account without your library card, so please have it with you whenever possible, or ask us for a replacement card.
  • May I check out (or use a lab computer) without my card? — Yes, but only if you are able to provide identification that proves the account is registered to you. This is almost always your driver's license or a state-issued ID. For minors, a school ID also may serve this purpose. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to access your account in the absence of a card, so please have you library card with you whenever possible.
  • May I return my items to any library? — You may return your items to any MCPL location provided they were borrowed from one of the libraries in V-Cat (see above), including any of the nine MCPL locations. Interlibrary loan items (e.g. items borrowed from libraries that aren't members of V-Cat) should be returned in person at the same location you checked them out.
  • How can I renew my items? — Library materials can be renewed twice for an extra seven or 14 days from the date of renewal. Please do not renew until the last few days before the item's due date. You may renew online, in person or by calling our automated 24/7 renewal line: 715-261-7209. You will need your 14-digit card number and PIN. Interlibrary loan items may be renewed once by phone or in person for an additional 14 days at the discretion of the lending library. Online renewals are not possible. If there is a waiting list for an item or if someone else submits a request for an item after you've checked it out, a renewal will not be possible.
  • How will I know when my materials are due? — You will receive a receipt at checkout showing all items and when they are due. If you misplace your receipt, you may review this information online or by calling 715-261-7209 (24/7). Alternatively, you may call any MCPL location to check when your items are due, but be sure to have your library card number ready. You may wish to sign up for account alerts to receive reminders by email or text message a few days before your items are due.
  • Can I check out if I have fines? — Yes, you may check out so long as your accumulated fines are less than $10. Otherwise, you will need to pay enough of your fines to bring the balance on your account to less than $10.
  • What happens if I don't return an item?-- A "first notice" is sent when books are seven days overdue, or when interlibrary loans or DVDs are two days overdue. A "final notice" is sent 14 days later. The item is declared "lost" 35 days after the due date, and the borrower is billed for the cost of the item. After 60 days, if this amount (in combination with any other fines) is more than $75, the account will be reported for debt collection via Unique Management Services and assessed an additional $10 fee. Patron accounts are blocked from use if: (a) lost materials are not returned after a bill has been sent, (b) the account carries $10 or more in fines, (c) the account shows 25 or more items overdue, or (d) the account has been referred to debt collection.
  • How will I be notified if I have overdue items or items being held? — Depending on your account preferences, you will be contacted by email, phone, text message or regular mail. You may view your notification preferences online.
  • Why doesn't the library have extra copies of a popular item? — In many cases, there are more copies available than meet the eye. You are rarely more than six people away from getting a printed copy of an adult fiction or nonfiction book. This amounts to about three months. E-books, DVDs and other media may have longer waiting lists. Contact us for the reasons why.
    Further explanation: The "___ holds on ... ___ copies" note you will see in the Library Catalog (V-Cat) shows requests by patrons throughout the Wisconsin Valley Library Service (WVLS) on however many copies of the item are owned by all of libraries in WVLS. However, most libraries (MCPL included) do not let patrons of other libraries borrow their "high-demand" items for four to six months after they are added to the collection. Therefore, the real numbers that affect you are "___ holds by MCPL card-holders on ___ copies owned by MCPL." Unfortunately, you can't see these numbers in the catalog. You could contact us and we could attempt to determine your "real" position in the waiting list, but generally, it's easier to just remember that we usually have at least as many copies of printed materials to meet the standard of "no more than six MCPL-patron requests per MCPL-owned copy."