Borrowing Privileges

Currently enrolled students and currently employed members of the ISU community can use their ISU card to borrow items. Some affiliates can get an ISU card, which comes with borrowing privileges. Adults and alumni living in Iowa can pay for an annual Library Visitor card. See each group for more details. 

If you are not a member of any of these groups, you can still use our print and electronic collections freely within our buildings. Our buildings are open to the public. 

ISU community

Most undergraduate students can check out up to 100 items which are due at the end of each semester, unless recalled sooner.

For incoming students, library accounts are not active until the term begins. 

If undergraduate students are taking 500+ level classes, or are in the University Honors Program, they may check out 500 items and the items are due at the end of the academic year. First-Year Honors Program students do not receive expanded library privileges.

Graduate students can check out up to 500 items at a time. Items are due at the end of the academic year.

All staff, faculty, emeriti faculty, post-docs, and visiting scholars can check out up to 500 items at a time. Items are due at the end of the academic year.

Regular (non-emeritus) retirees from ISU can continue to use their ISU card to check out up to 500 items at a time. Items can be checked out for an entire academic year. Retirees do not have remote access to library databases. 


These affiliates can have up to 500 items checked out at a time. Items are due at the end of the academic year. These affiliates do not have remote database access. Remote database access is only available with an active ISU Net-ID; the default is no remote database access. Information about Net-IDs is available from ISU Information Technology.

Alumni and others

ISU alumni who are Iowa residents can purchase a Library Visitor Card for $5. Alumni can check out up to 25 items at a time, and can have items for 12 weeks, unless recalled. Alumni cannot access library databases from off-campus.

Iowa residents 18 years and older can pay $20 annually for a Library Visitor Card. They can check out up to 25 items at a time, and can have items for 12 weeks, unless recalled. They cannot access library databases from off-campus.

Spouses, domestic partners, or dependents of ISU employees or students, can get an ISU Card through the ISU Card office. They can borrow up to 25 items, for 12 weeks, unless recalled. They do not have access to library databases from off-campus.

Members of the following institutions who have library accounts in good standing can borrow up to 25 items which they can have for up to 16 weeks. Borrowing items from the ISU library requires a current ID from one of these institutions.

  • Drake University
  • Grand View University
  • Grinnell College
  • Hawkeye Community College
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Northern Iowa
  • Wartburg College

    How long you can keep items

    Most of our items belong to our general collections. Most undergraduate students can keep these items for only one semester. Other ISU community members and affiliates can keep those items for an entire academic year. Alumni and others with Library Visitor Cards, can keep items from our general collections for 12 weeks.

    Course Reserves items can only be checked out for 3 hours at a time and must be used only in the library building.

    Items in our Reference Collection can only be checked out for 1 week.

    Recalled items

    All items are subject to recall. When an item is recalled, the current borrower receives an email notice informing them of a new due date. This due date will ensure a minimum two-week loan for the original borrower.  We use recalls to share library materials in a fair and equitable manner to all our patrons.

    Renewing items

    All items may be renewed unless someone else has recalled them. Some additional limitations apply for renewing materials online.

    You can renew

    • Online, by signing into your library account. You may not renew if the item is overdue or if it has been recalled by another person.
    • By phone, call 515-294-3961. You will need to tell us your ISU ID number or Library Visitor card number.
    • In-person by bringing your item and ID card to any circulation desk.

    Renewal limits

    For items from our libraries, you can keep renewing them for 3 years (36 months). Then the item needs to be returned to the library.

    Course reserve items cannot be renewed.

    FastTRAC Consortium members may not renew ISU items.

    Requesting items to be held at a desk

    All borrowers can have up to 10 holds at a time. We hold requested items for 10 days at the circulation desk.

    Fines and Fees

    We charge fines or fees when a borrower has not returned an item or has returned an item with damage.

    You can pay fines and fees on your U-Bill through ISU Accounts Receivable.

    We charge overdue fines only on Reserve items and items which have been recalled by another borrower. Reserve fines accrue $2 for each hour overdue, up to $40 maximum. Recalled items accrue $4 fines daily, up to a $40 maximum.

    Lost Item Fees

    As of January 1, 2023, if an item is not returned after a reasonable time period, we will bill you for a lost item. Each item incurs a $15 processing fee and either the replacement cost of the item or $75, whichever is lower.

    If you find and return the item within one year of paying your bill, and the item is still in good condition, you can return it. We will credit the replacement cost to you, but the processing fee is non-refundable.

    If you know you have lost an item, please call 515-294-3961 or email Include your name, ISU ID/visitor card number, and the title of the lost item, and a phone number where you can be reached if we have questions. You will be charged replacement and processing fees.

    Damaged Item Fees

    If an item is damaged, we will check whether it can be repaired. If the item can be repaired, repair fees start at $10. If we cannot repair the item, the item will be treated as lost. You will be charged replacement and processing fees.

    Blocked Accounts

    Borrowers are blocked from borrowing or renewing material when they have reached the following limits:

    Borrower type

    Maximum Number of Overdue Items

    Maximum Outstanding Fees and Fines

    ISU Community & Affiliates

    1 item


    Alumni & others


    To clear any blocks from your account, you will need to either return your overdue items or pay enough fees and fines to fall below the maximum.

    Losing your borrowing privileges

    University members may lose borrowing privileges due to non-payment of fines or lost book charges exceeding $150.00. Borrowing privileges will be reinstated only upon verification of payment of all outstanding Library charges through the University Accounts Receivable Office.

    Affiliates, visitors, and alumni may lose borrowing privileges due to non-payment of fines or lost book charges exceeding $50.00.

    For all users, Library Staff may also change borrowing limits or take away borrowing privileges in cases of abuse.

    Borrower responsibilities

    You are responsible for all materials checked out under your library account.

    We send courtesy notices by email to let you know about due dates, items on hold, and items that have been recalled or are overdue.

    • ISU students, faculty, and staff: We use your ISU email address. You are responsible for regularly checking your ISU email account
    • Affiliates, visitors & alumni: You are responsible for providing the library with accurate contact information. We will send notices to the email address you provide us. You are responsible for informing us of any changes to your contact information.

    Your library account shows what you have checked out and when it is due.

    You are responsible for returning items regardless of whether you receive an overdue notice. Overdue notices are sent as a courtesy.

    If you use Library Material Delivery, we will use the mailing address you provide us.  You are responsible for library items as soon as they leave the library. This includes any lost book replacement and processing fees for items delivered to the wrong address or delivered to the correct address, but not found by the borrowing patron.

    If you have questions or concerns about these policies, please contact the Main Desk via email or phone: 515-294-3961.

    Items from other departments and libraries

    We also lend technology to students. Visit or contact Tech Lending for policies, fees, and replacement costs. Our Special Collections & University Archives department has special considerations for using their materials.

    We borrow items from other libraries through Interlibrary Loan and the FastTRAC Consortium. The libraries we borrow from set loan periods, ability to renew or not, fines, and lost item charges.

    Last updated 12/12/22