You are here

Borrow, renew, return

These pages explain circulation services and policies at the Stanford University Libraries, including borrowing periods, renewals, and return policies. While policies vary by library and user privilege level (faculty, staff, undergraduate, alumni, etc.), books typically have longer lending periods than other materials, such as DVDs and media. Still have questions after reading these pages? Contact

Borrower responsibilities

Keep your email address up to date

Library notices are sent via email, so you need an active email address listed in your library account. If email is undeliverable to your address, you won't be able to borrow anything until you provide a valid one. Faculty and staff may choose paper notices; forms for exercising this option are available at library circulation desks, as well as Privileges in Green Library.

Stanford students can update their information in Axess; faculty and staff can use StanfordYou. Fee-based borrowers must submit a Change of Address Form.

Don’t lend out your ID card

Do not let other people use your library card (your Campus Card or SUL Card). Borrowing privileges are not transferable and are subject to withdrawal if abused. You're responsible for everything checked out in your name. University policies, including the honor code, govern how we handle cases of shared ID cards.

You can request a return receipt when you return an item during library hours. Borrowers who claim to have returned material but who do not have a return receipt should initiate a Claims Returned Search at the lending library. If the material is not located after four staff searches over one month, the borrower will be held liable for replacement costs and a nonrefundable billing fee. Lost items remain Stanford property even after replacement fines are paid or items are replaced. If you find items you thought were lost, please return them to Stanford as soon as possible.

Handle library materials carefully

Exercise care in handling library materials. If you damage an item, you'll need to pay for its repair or replacement. Examples of damage can include writing or highlighting, food spills, water damage, Post-It note usage (sticky notes leave a residue that can destroy pages over time), folding pages, placing extraneous paper in a book so that the binding is stressed, tearing or removing pages, excessive heat or sunlight on media materials. Fines are assessed according to the severity of the damage. Do not attempt repairs yourself.  Notify the Circulation desk about damaged materials.

Let us know if you don’t want your name disclosed to other patrons

Library borrowing records are confidential; however, there are times when a researcher needs to check a quotation, citation, etc., in an item that is checked out by another borrower. Unless you have a signed Request for Non-Disclosure form on file with Privileges, your name can be disclosed to members of the Stanford community or to University of California faculty, academic staff, or graduate student members of the Research Libraries Cooperative Program or the Reciprocal Services Program. If you do not want your name disclosed, email us at and let us know.

Respond to recall and overdue notices

You'll receive a recall notice when a library or another borrower needs an item you've checked out. You must return the recalled item by the recall due date printed on the notice. If the item is needed for Course Reserves, it must be returned immediately. Fines begin accruing as soon as the due date passes. Overdue recalls will be billed for replacement after they are 8 days overdue and your borrowing account may be blocked until the item is returned (or paid for). 

For other items you've charged, you'll receive a reminder to renew or return your materials as the due date gets closer.  Overdue items will be billed for replacement after 14 days overdue and your borrowing account may be blocked until you return (or pay for) the items.

Return material when on extended absence

If you are going to leave the area for more than a week, you should return all library items or arrange for them to be returned by someone else if they are recalled. Absences requiring special arrangements should be made in advance with staff at the individual lending library.

Return lost books that you find

Lost items remain property of Stanford Univeristy, even after replacement fines have been paid or the item has been replaced. If you find items previously thought to be lost, please return them as soon as possible.

Respect the library and other patrons

Stanford University Libraries and the library staff are committed to providing an environment suitable for reading, study, and activities in support of campus research and instructional programs. Maintaining a pleasant and productive environment requires that all individuals conduct themselves thoughtfully and responsibly.

Library conduct

  • Ringing cell phones are not acceptable. Cell phones must be switched to silent mode. If you need to talk, step outside the library. In Green, you may use your cell phone for short, quiet conversations in an unoccupied group study room or in the area near the main entrances.
  • Water is permitted in sealable containers.  Food and other beverages are not permitted. 
  • Animals are not permitted in library buildings, with the exception of service animals.
  • Refrain from any disruptive activity, loud or excessive talking, or behavior that distracts or intimidates other patrons and staff.
  • Do not occupy library space in an inappropriate manner, such as napping or loitering.
  • Do not use library computers to view pornography, violent images, or other offensive visual materials.
  • Camera use must be approved in advance.