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Borrowing and accounts

Get answers to common questions about checking out, holds, renewals, and fines. Got a question that isn’t answered here? Get in touch.

Checking out

How do I check something out?

Bring your library card or a photo ID to the checkout desk, or use one of our self-check machines. If you don’t have the card itself, knowing the number or having a copy (like a picture of the barcode stored on your phone) works just the same.

How many items can I check out, and how long can I keep them?

You can have 50 total items per card at one time. Some types of items have additional limits on how many you can check out:

Item type Maximum allowed Holds allowed Loan period Maximum renewals
Books
Audiobooks
Read-along kits
Periodicals
Puzzles
CDs
50 10 21 days 5
Movie DVDs 10 10 7 days 5
TV series DVD sets 3 10 21 days 5
Book club kits 2 3 42 days 0
Lucky Day books 3 0 7 days 0
Hotspots 1 0 14 days 0
Interlibrary loan 5 in any stage of the process 0 Set by the lending library Set by the lending library
Total per card: 50 at a time 10 at a time

Renewals

You can renew most items up to 5 times, as long as nobody else has placed a hold on them. If there is a hold on the item, it can’t be renewed. Book club kits, Lucky Day books, and hotspots also can’t be renewed. For interlibrary loan items, the renewal limit is set by the library we borrowed the item from.

You can renew items in your online account. You can also call 919-680-2524, or get in touch online, and we’ll help renew your items for you.

Returning items

You can return most items to any Durham County Library location. If it’s after hours, all of our locations have an exterior book drop.

The only exceptions are wifi hotspots and interlibrary loan items, which need to go back to the location where you checked them out. Take interlibrary loan items in to the checkout desk – please don’t use the book drop for those.

Holds

If an item you want isn’t currently available, or if you want to have it sent to a different location, you can place a hold on it. You can have a maximum of 10 holds on physical items at one time. Hold limits for our digital services vary – see more about ebooks and online media for details.

After I place a hold, how long will it take to get my item?

If the item has a copy on the shelf in a branch, we’ll usually have it to you within a few days. If all the copies are currently checked out, your wait time will depend on when a copy is returned and where you are on the wait list. Either way, you’ll get a notification when it’s ready.

Can I change my pickup location after I place a hold?

If you already placed a hold but want to change your pickup location, contact us for help.

Fines and fees

Are there fines if I return items late?

No, Durham County Library is fine free.

What do I do about lost or damaged items?

We consider items lost if you report them to us as lost, or once they’re 40 days overdue.

At that point, you’ll be charged for the replacement cost of the item plus a $5 processing fee. The replacement cost is based on the library’s cost for an identical item and may not be the same as what you see through third-party retailers or for other editions of the same title.

In some cases, you may be able to buy a new replacement copy instead of paying for a lost item. Contact your library location to find out if that’s possible for your item. In that case, you still pay the $5 processing fee.

If you find and return the item in usable condition within 6 months of the date it was declared lost, we’ll refund the replacement cost (but not the $5 processing fee).

Cards and accounts

How do I get a library card?

To check out items from the library, start by getting a card! Learn how to get a Durham County Library card.

How can I get account notifications?

You can get notifications when holds you placed are ready or items you have checked out are due. The default notification options are phone or email. If you want to switch your notification type, get in touch and we’ll update it for you.

We also offer an alternate notification service called Library Elf that lets you manage notifications for multiple family members in one place. You can choose to get alerts by text message or email. We subscribe to this service, so it’s free for you to use. If you want to try it, go to Library Elf and sign up.

I lost my card – what do I do?

If you know your card number, you can still use that instead of the physical card. Otherwise, you’ll need to get a replacement card at any Durham County Library location. There’s a $1 fee that you can either pay at the time or have added to your account balance.

Why is my account blocked?

If you have more than $10 of total charges on your account, you won’t be able to check out or renew items, access our digital services like OverDrive and hoopla, or make room reservations. Call your library location for help with your account.