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Library Policies

Library Cards

No one may borrow books or other library materials except with his or her own library card.

Rationale: This is to protect library users and other students and faculty members from unauthorized use of their identification and consequent liability for fines, tagged records, etc.

Enacted 3/1982; Revised 4/2001


Michigan's Library Privacy Act (M.C.L.A. Sec. 397.603 Sec. 3) helps assure the privacy of all library users. It states:

(2) Unless ordered by a court after giving the affected library notice of the request and an opportunity to be heard on the request, a library or an employee or agent of a library shall not release or disclose a library record or portion of a library record to a person without the written consent of the person liable for payment for or return of the materials identified in that library record.

(3) The procedure and form of giving written consent described in subsection (2) may be determined by the library.

What does this mean in the Thompson Library? 

To comply with this law, Thompson Library faculty and staff cannot, without the written consent of the individual whose privacy is at issue, tell one patron what library materials another patron has borrowed, nor can they reveal who has requested specific books or other materials, including materials requested through interlibrary loan.

Revised 4/2001

University of Michigan-Flint Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate students may borrow circulating books and audio visual materials for eight (8) weeks, and may renew them continuously unless they are requested by another patron.

Materials that generally do not circulate may sometimes be borrowed for a limited period.

  • Unbound and bound periodicals may be borrowed for 24 hours.
  • Circulating audiovisual materials may be borrowed for three weeks and may renew them continuously unless they are requested by another patron.
  • Reference materials may be borrowed at the discretion of the reference librarian on duty; see the section “Reference Books - Lending.”

Like most other university benefits and privileges, library privileges cease upon graduation or disenrollment from the University. Alumni may purchase an Community Borrower library card (see section Community Borrowers Cards).

Revised 4/2019, Revised 8/2021

Graduate Students, Faculty, Staff, and University Retirees

Graduate students, faculty and staff (including retirees) may borrow circulating books according to the schedule below, and may renew them continuously unless they are requested by another patron.

Check-out date

Due date

August 1 - November 30

Late December

December 1 - March 31

Late April

April 1 - July 31

Late August

Materials that generally do not circulate may sometimes be borrowed for a limited period.

  • Unbound and bound periodicals may be borrowed for 24 hours.
  • Circulating audiovisual materials may be borrowed for three weeks and may renew them continuously unless they are requested by another patron.
  • Reference materials may be borrowed at the discretion of the reference librarian on duty; see the section “Reference Books - Lending.”

Like most other university benefits and privileges, library privileges cease – except for retirees – when the faculty or staff member is no longer employed by the University. Those who retire from UM-Flint retain full library borrowing privileges.

For those who resign or otherwise leave their positions with the University, materials they have borrowed from the Thompson Library are considered due back the same day their employment ceases.

Revised 4/2001; Revised 1/2005; Revised 4/2019, Revised 8/201


The library no longer assesses hourly/daily fines or for recalled items. If an item goes into a lost status (30 days overdue), the patron will be charged the replacement cost of the item, as outlined in “Lost and Damaged Materials,” and their borrowing privileges will be blocked.

Enacted 3/1989; Revised 4/2001; Revised 6/2006; Revised 4/2019, Revised 8/2021

Lost and Damaged Materials

Charges for lost materials and for those too damaged to return to the collection include any applicable overdue fines. Overdue fines cease to accumulate when an item is reported lost or damaged.

If an item is still available for ordering as a new copy, the charge is the item’s price or $100. If an item is unavailable as a new copy, the charge is based on prices listed on used and rare book or other relevant websites. Determining a charge may take two or more business days. In general, hardbound copies of books are ordered unless the lost copy was paperback.

Patrons may replace lost or damaged materials themselves, but are strongly encouraged to talk to a library staff member or librarian first. This is to ensure that the item that the library obtains is the most recent edition, a new or like-new copy, suitably bound, and otherwise acceptable. The library will not accept replacement copies that are inadequate for any reason (wrong edition, defaced, scratched CD, and so on). 

All borrowers except UM-Flint faculty and staff will be charged fines for overdue materials. Other sanctions for overdue materials may include suspension or termination of borrowing privileges and a block on financial aid, registration, transcripts, and graduation. 

If the borrower finds and returns the item within 90 days, the Thompson Library can refund the replacement and processing charges.

Rationale: This policy gives the borrower ample time to locate and return a lost item for a refund. It also gives the Thompson Library a better chance to obtain replacements. 

Enacted 3/1989; Revised 4/2001; Revised 1/2005; Revised 5/2005; Revised 4/2019; Revised 8/2021

Reference Book Lending

Reference books are ordinarily for use in the library only. There are sometimes situations that make such use awkward or otherwise unsatisfactory. In these cases, a patron may sign out a reference book for 24 hours.

Any student, staff, or faculty member of the University of Michigan is eligible to borrow reference materials. Representatives of local foundations may borrow a reference book without charge if the item is needed in conjunction with the foundation work. Librarians from other area libraries may be extended the courtesy of free borrowing of reference books. At the discretion of the reference librarian on duty, government officials may borrow reference books without charge, provided the items are to be used in conjunction with their official duties.

Interpretation: Depending on the circumstances, almost any book in the reference collection could go out. Except in truly extraordinary circumstances (e.g. the chancellor has a pressing need for it), a few items should never leave. These include heavily used books, periodical indexes not available electronically, indexes to reference sets, and other items that are obviously current, without parallels in our collection, that act as essential “doorways” to other parts of the collection, and that are likely to be in demand on a regular basis. Reference books that are in demand for a specific class assignment, such as the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, must not go out. Other material should be considered for circulation when, in the librarian's judgment, circumstances suggest that would be the prudent course.

Reference materials can be signed out for an hour to a week – or even longer, depending on the situation. Items to be let out for a very short time include those requiring little time to use in the way the patron wants, and that are fairly likely to be in some demand. Rarely consulted books, and those requiring extensive consultation to accomplish the job at hand, may go out for longer periods – again, if in the reference librarian's judgment that would be the prudent course to assure good service.

The decision on lending a reference book is the responsibility of the librarian who handles the transaction. In cases of doubt, the librarian should discuss the request with the Head of Public Services, or, in that person’s absence, with other library faculty who happen to be present. In any case, there should be no second-guessing a reference librarian's decision when it is made in accord with the above guidelines. These guidelines are flexible; they have to be, if we are to treat the reference collection in a way that helps assure the best service possible.

Enacted 1/1995; Revised 4/2001; Revised 4/2019


Newspapers in the Thompson Library may not be borrowed. These contain current information that should be available to library users at all times.

Exception: A reference librarian may make an exception for a faculty member wanting to borrow long enough to make photocopies in his or her office.

The procedure will be the same as for signing out reference books, using the same form. The patron should return the newspaper to the Reference Desk.

Enacted 2/1982; Revised 4/2001

UM Reciprocal Borrowing Privileges

UM-Flint students, faculty, and staff have borrowing privileges at most of the libraries on the Ann Arbor and Dearborn campuses with their UM-Flint library card. The Law Library does not extend borrowing privileges to Flint patrons.

Revised 4/2001; Revised 1/2005; Revised 1/2007; Revised 4/2019

Alumni & Community Borrower Cards

The Thompson Library extends regular borrowing privileges for a one-year period to any Michigan resident age 18 or older who pays a non-refundable fee. The fee is linked to UM-Flint student charges, and is subject to fluctuation with those charges. Payment of the fee enables the individual to borrow circulating materials on the same basis as a UM-Flint undergraduate student. The fee does not allow them remote access on online resources.The fee involves only one’s ability to borrow; anyone is free to use library services and materials on the premises. 

Alumni & Community Borrower Fee:

  • $25 for UM alumni for access to Flint materials
  • $125 for UM alumni to access Flint and Ann Arbor materials
  • $250 for others to access Flint and Ann Arbor materials 

The community borrower's card is not valid for access to online databases or interlibrary loan services. Institutional cards are not issued; cards are issued only to individuals, and are non-transferable. Unauthorized transfer of cards is cause for termination of privileges.

Payment for each one-year loan period must be made in full before any materials may be borrowed. Failure to return borrowed materials or to pay fines for overdue or lost books will result in denial of further loan periods, regardless of the individual’s willingness to pay the borrower fee.

Except as noted below or as outlined in the “Reciprocal Borrowing Privileges” section, this policy applies to all members of the general public age 18 or older, including employees of local businesses and of the Flint Board of Education, Flint-area schoolteachers, and to graduate students from other colleges and universities.


  1. People from institutions that have entered reciprocal borrowing agreements with the Thompson Library will not be required to pay the fee unless the agreement specifically excludes them. This includes the Academic Resource Sharing and the Michigan Research Library Triangle arrangements.
  2. Professional staff of the Mott Foundation shall be issued borrowers’ cards free of charge.
  3. Other exceptions: Situations not covered by this policy should be rare. Those occurring are to be left to the discretion of the librarian on duty. It should be clearly understood that a patron’s desire to borrow “only for a few days” or “only to borrow this one book” are inadequate arguments on which to base an exemption to the fee rule.


The University Libraries at the Ann Arbor campus charge fees for borrowers unaffiliated with the University.

Other departments of the University of Michigan–Flint also charge fees to community members for use of services and facilities. The University Center, for example, rents meeting rooms to the public that are available free of charge to UM-Flint faculty and staff. UM-Flint also sells memberships permitting public use of the Recreation Center and pool.

Rationale: The primary purpose of the Thompson Library, as is implicit in the State Legislature’s establishment of this campus, is to serve the library needs of the students, faculty and staff of the University of Michigan–Flint and the University of Michigan system. Any other function is subordinate to this one.

The Thompson Library cannot offer service free of charge to the general public at the expense, in the form of depleted collections, of the students whose tuition and fees help support the Thompson Library and the University itself, or at the expense of UM-Flint faculty members who use the Thompson Library to support their research. These two groups are entitled, then, to primary access to the Thompson Library and its collections.

The Thompson Library recognizes that members of the general public may have research or information needs that this library may be able to serve and does not wish to close the door on these individuals. It has therefore established the fee system as stated in this policy.

Enacted 10/1982; Revised 4/2001; Revised 1/2005; Revised 1/2007; Revised 4/2019

Academic Resource Sharing (ARS)

UM-Flint, Kettering University, Mott Community College, and Baker College of Flint have limited mutual borrowing privileges for their students and faculty through the Academic Resource Sharing program. With an ARS card, students and faculty can borrow two books at a time, up to ten per semester, from these institutions. The card is valid until the end of the semester/term when it was initially granted. 

UM-Flint patrons may obtain an ARS card at the Thompson Library circulation desk. Items must be picked up from and returned to their owning library by the patron. Patrons from other institutions can get an ARS card from their institution's library. 

Interpretation: The ARS cards are intended as supplements to, and not substitutes for, the resources of the Thompson Library. Students at all participating institutions are expected to exhaust the resources of their home libraries before receiving an ARS card.

Revised 8/2013; Revised 4/2019

Michigan Research Library Triangle (MRLT)

This reciprocal borrowing program is available to graduate students from all three University of Michigan campuses, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University. Graduate students must be currently enrolled in classes and obtain a "good standing" letter from their institution's library before borrowing from another. To receive a library card from one of the other institutions, a graduate student must fill out a form available at his or her home library. UM-Flint graduate students may obtain the forms at the Thompson Library’s circulation desk. 

MRLT cards expire one year from the date of issue. Items from MSU and Wayne State must be picked up at and returned to their libraries by the patron. Loan period is 3 weeks. Overdue fines will begin to accrue after this period. There is a fine of $2.00/day for recalled items. Replacement cost will be $50 plus processing fee. 

Interpretation: The MRLT cards are intended as supplements to, and not substitutes for, the resources of the Thompson Library. Students at all participating institutions are expected to exhaust the resources of their home libraries before receiving an MRLT card.

Revised 8/2013; Revised 4/2019

Eastern Michigan University

UM-Flint and Eastern Michigan University (EMU) students, faculty and staff are eligible for guest borrowing privileges at the other institution. To qualify, you must be a currently-enrolled student or current faculty or staff member in good standing at your own library.

Faculty, students and staff must first register at the circulation desk of their home institution by filling out a form at the circulation desk. Then, bring a picture ID with you to pick up your guest borrower's card at the other institution's circulation desk. Borrowing privileges are valid for the current term, and can be renewed by visiting the circulation desk of your home institution.

Most items circulate for two or three weeks and may be renewed unless requested by another borrower. Items must be returned to the institution from which they were borrowed. Failure to follow guest borrowing policies and procedures may result in sanctions or termination of privileges from either or both institutions.

Revised 4/2019

Big Ten Academic Alliance - On Site Borrowing

All current faculty, emeritus faculty, students, and staff at BTAA institutions and the University of Chicago who have home library accounts in good standing are eligible for guest borrowing privileges as established by the lending library.

To verify current affiliation and streamline the validation process, each lending institution will use the BTAA Reciprocal Borrowing Application developed by the University of Maryland’s University Libraries Digital Data Services (DDS) on behalf of Big Ten Academic Alliance Library Initiatives.

Materials available for borrowing will vary by institution, reflected by local policies and practices.

The number of requests allowed to the guest and number of concurrent checkouts permitted are based on local policies and practices. Accounts and expiration dates are set by local policies and practices. They will at least equal the initial loan period, typically 28 days.

For more information see the "Reciprocal On-Site Borrowing Agreement" from the BTAA website.