Search our Catalog

Borrowing for non-Canton residents

Dear Canton Public Library, I was very dissatisfied with my latest visit to the Canton Public Library. Having grown up in Plymouth, I frequently used the reciprocal borrowing program at your library. I was always able to check out the materials I required, and I was always treated with respect. Recently I was working on a school project and needed some resources from the library. After gathering five books for my project, I headed to the check-out line. Once the librarian scanned my card she told me that I could only check out two books at a time. I was confused, especially because other patrons in front of me in line had checked out stacks of books without a problem. Then I was told that I was only permitted two books because I am a Belleville resident. I was surprised since Plymouth residents do not have a two book limit. I was also very embarassed. Here I was, with a long line of patrons waiting behind me, having to select two books of my five. I can't remember the last time I was to feel so unwelcome. I thought public libraries were supposed to encourage education. Yet here I was being penalized for not living in the right zip code. I had to visit a different library in order to gather the required materials for my project because two books was not sufficient. Why does the Canton Public Library only allow Belleville residents to borrow two books? Why are Belleville residents treated differently than Plymouth residents? What other city residents are only permitted limited access to the library? Also, I looked on your website under borrowing policies and reciprocal borrowing. I noticed that these limits are not listed. Why not? How can non-Canton residents avoid the embarassment of having their books taken away at check-out if these policies are not public? Would you consider allowing non-residents to have wider access to the library's resources? Thank you for your time and consideration.


Fri, 2009-12-18 17:50

Thank you for your comment regarding the limit of 2 items per card for Belleville residents.
Our reciprocal borrowing agreement with neighboring libraries allows for a library to institute borrowing limits when checkout from another library’s patrons exceeds 10% of our total checkouts. That is the case with patrons of the Belleville Fred C. Fischer Library, and so our Library Board instituted limits in 2007. The board and director of the Fred C. Fischer library were officially informed of this action at that time. If the situation were reversed, a library could impose the same limits on Canton residents, per the same reciprocal borrowing agreement.
We recognize that some Fred C. Fischer Library cardholders prefer to use the Canton Public Library as their primary library. Non-residents who do not wish to use their home library card here have the option to purchase a Canton Public Library card for $170 per year--the average amount that a resident pays annually in property taxes to the library. Purchasing an orange Canton Public Library card allows you to access our full range of collections and services, from checkouts of print and audiovisual material, to placing holds on materials, to requesting interlibrary loans, to registering for computer classes and our other programs. If you choose not to purchase an orange Canton Public Library card, your home library card--whether it is from Belleville, Ypsilanti, Plymouth or Westland--will allow you to check out materials only.
For more than a decade, the Fred C. Fischer Library has attempted to work with the citizens of Belleville, Sumpter, and Van Buren to improve their library services to you by establishing a dedicated millage to support and improve their library operations and building. I encourage you to contact your elected officials in Van Buren to let them know that you support improving your library's collections and services.
There is a letter available at the checkout desk that is given to any Belleville, Sumpter or Van Buren resident as an explanation of this decision, but you're right to call our attention to the fact that this policy is not listed on our web site. We'll look into correcting that.
I hope that I have answered your questions about checkout limits and the underlying reasons for establishing them.