The Library Access and Borrowing Policy explains the privileges and responsibilities of all who borrow materials from the USC Libraries. One of the USC Libraries’ highest priorities is to enable easy access to our integrated collection of electronic, print, audiovisual, and microform materials in order to support of the University's teaching, learning, and research needs. The policy aims to ensure that access to materials is equally distributed for the entire USC community.
Updated: January 2013
Creating a Library Account
Library accounts are automatically created for all currently enrolled students and employed faculty and staff. Accounts will also be created for guest patrons identified as being eligible for library privileges, including visiting scholars, Language Academy students, and Friends of the USC Libraries. Accounts for new student borrowers will usually be activated within one business day of registration.
The USCard serves as the library access and borrowing card. The 14-digit barcode printed on the front of the USCard, which consists of the 10-digit USC ID plus a 4-digit security code printed on the back of the card, serves as the library user ID and user barcode. Some fee-based or proxy accounts may receive a library-issued barcode in lieu of a USCard. Privileges for students are valid for one semester, but will be extended automatically with continued enrollment. For faculty and staff, privileges are valid for one-academic year and continue as long as the faculty or staff member is employed in good standing.
All borrowers are automatically assigned a My Account logon for accessing their library information online. For security purposes, borrowers are required to authenticate themselves by setting up a PIN prior to using any online library service. The PIN is also needed when users want to check the due dates of any borrowed materials, renew an item, or recall an item checked out by another borrower.
Please note that library privileges are not transferable to other individuals, and the Library reserves the right to request secondary picture identification before allowing access to facilities or providing services.
USC’s Norris Medical Library, Wilson Dental Library, and Asa V. Call Law Library provide discrete services for their respective users. Please see details on their library services pages:
- Norris Medical Library Services
- Jennifer Ann Wilson Dental Library Services
- Asa V. Call Law Library Services
Borrowers are responsible for all materials charged to their account until they have been physically returned and checked in by library staff. Borrowers are entitled to receipts upon request for any returned items. Borrowers are responsible for saving receipts since the USC Libraries will not keep copies. In addition, it is the Borrower's responsibility to:
- Contact the library directly to update residential and e-mail address changes;
- Know when materials are due by checking HOMER’s My Account service;
- Renew materials on or before the due date;
- Return recalled materials promptly; and
- Exercise care in handling all library materials.
Additionally, the USC Code of Ethics states a philosophy based on fairness, honesty and respecting the rights and dignity of others in all transactions. These “pillars” of ethical behavior are expected to be upheld by the USC community regardless of whether or not the specifics of a situation are regulated by policy or law. The USC Libraries ask borrowers to embrace this philosophy in all library matters.
Borrowers who abuse provisions in the Library Access and Lending Policy, disrupt library service, purposefully mutilate or wrongfully remove library materials or equipment, or treat others disrespectfully while within a library facility may be referred to Student Judicial Affairs, the Office of Equity and Diversity, the Department of Public Safety, or other authorities as appropriate.
Library notices include renewal reminders, overdue notices, and recall requests. All library notices to borrowers will be sent to their official USC email account.The USC Libraries may, at a user’s request, send library notices to one or two alternate email addresses in addition to the official USC email address, but the libraries are not responsible for delivery to incorrect, over-quota, or misdirected alternate accounts.
Since library accounts can also be checked online using HOMER’s My Account feature, lack of email notice delivery does not excuse the borrower from responsibility for overdue materials and recalls.
The USC Libraries, may at the user’s request, send text messages to a mobile phone of the user’s choice. SMS messages may include notifications for first recalls, hold pickups, bills or library announcements.
Since library accounts can also be checked online using HOMER’s My Account feature, lack of SMS delivery does not excuse the borrower of responsibility for bills or recalls.
Borrowers must present a valid USC ID to check out materials. The loan periods for library materials may vary based on the material type and the privilege level of the borrower. Some libraries or collections may have shorter loan periods, or require library use, for their materials as well. Most standard circulating materials may be borrowed for 2 or 4 weeks by undergraduate students and for a semester by graduate students and faculty.
USC students, staff, and faculty are allowed to borrow up to 200 standard circulating materials at one time.
If not renewed, library materials must be returned on or before the due date. Most standard circulating materials receive a 14-day grace period after the due date. Some, however, do not. Therefore, it is never advisable to consider the grace period as part of the official loan period. Standard circulating materials can be returned at any USC Libraries circulation desk during operating hours, and many libraries also have book return slots near their entrance for after-hours returns.
For your convenience, standard circulating materials may also be returned at one of two external locations:
- Doheny Book Return Bin: DML & McCarthy Quad
- Leavey Book Return Bin: LVL & West 34th Street
Note that book return bins quickly become full during final exams and holidays. Please do not place items partially in, next to, or on top of overfull book return bins. Library materials are never due on university holidays to ensure that patrons have the opportunity to return materials to a circulation desk on time.
In order to prevent damage, fragile items should not be placed in return bins or slots. In addition, equipment, reserves, interlibrary loan materials, Leavey Library DVDs, and all short-term loans (1-4 hour and 1-7 day) should be returned directly to the circulation desk from which they were checked out.
Library policy is not to remove an item from a user's account unless it is physically in hand. We can therefore not discharge an item simply on request. If you believe you have returned an item that still appears on your account, contact the library where the book was borrowed and request a search. Library staff will thoroughly search the entire library system for the item.
Standard circulating materials may be renewed up to ten times before they must be returned, except for semester loan materials borrowed by USC faculty, staff, and graduate students, which may be renewed indefinitely. Reserve and recalled materials cannot be renewed. Renewals may be accomplished in one of 3 ways:
- In person, at any library circulation desk
- Online, using HOMER’s My Account feature
- Over the phone, by contacting any library circulation desk
All 3 methods require the borrower’s USC ID. HOMER’s My Account feature also requires the borrower’s user-created PIN
The recall system was developed in order to ensure equal access to library materials for all borrowers. Materials requested by another borrower or needed for course reserves may be recalled at any time. The due date for the recalled item will be revised to a new—shorter—loan period. There is no grace period in this instance, and fines for a recalled item returned past the revised due date are $5.00 per item, per day.
For each item recalled, an email notice is sent informing the borrower of the new due date. Negligence on the part of the borrower to read his or her email does not remove the responsibility to return the item by its new due date. Once an item has been recalled, it cannot be reversed. All recalls are assumed to represent a legitimate need by another borrower, and the library does not arbitrate between borrowers as to who has the greater need. Because a recall can be placed at any time, it is advisable to return all materials before traveling for extended periods of time.
When a recalled item is returned, it can be placed on hold at a library requested by the borrower. If no library is specified it will be held by default at the library where the item was returned. The borrower will be notified by email to pick up the item at the designated library within 10 days. Multiple requests for the same item will be honored in the order in which they were made.
Lost Library Card
If a USC ID is lost or stolen, the borrower must notify the USC Libraries immediately. A new USC ID (with a new 4-digit security code) can be obtained from the USCard Office. The borrower to whom the card is issued will be held responsible for any materials checked out before the loss of the ID is reported to the USC Libraries.
Failure to return library materials on time will result in the assessment of fines. For standard circulating materials (2-week, 4-week, and Semester loans) borrowers will not receive fines during the 14-day grace period. On the fifteenth day, however, fines will be assessed retroactively to the first day that the item was overdue. Course reserves and other short-term loans must be returned on or before the time of day due in to avoid fines.
The borrower is responsible for full payment of fines assessed on his or her account. There are three basic categories of fines: those for standard circulating materials, those for short-term loans, and those for equipment. All fines are charged per item. Materials and equipment receive a short-term loan status when in high demand and are subject to higher fines.
Standard Circulating Material
- 2-week, 4-week and Semester loans (25¢ per day)
- 1-hour, 2-hour, 3-hour and 4-hour loans ($1.00 per hour)
- 1-day, 3-day, 7-day loans, Leavey Library DVDs, and all Recalled materials ($5.00 per day)
- 3-hour loan ($20/hour - $100 max)
- Pen Tablet, USB Microphone, iTalk Voice Recorder, etc.
- 4-hour loans ($2/hour - $40 max)
- Camcorder, Digital Camera, Digital Audio Recorder
- 1-day loans ($20/day - $100 max)
- Digital Cameras
- 3-day loans ($20/day - $100 max)
Damaged or Lost Materials
Borrowers are responsible for materials damaged or lost while on loan. All cases of loss or damage should be reported immediately to the USC Libraries. The minimum replacement fee for each lost or damaged item is $70.00, which includes a $20.00 processing fee. The USC Libraries reserve the right to increase the replacement fee upward to cover the replacement price of the item.
A borrower may replace a lost or damaged item with a copy acceptable to its holding library. In many cases this option will be less expensive than paying the minimum replacement fee. If the borrower chooses this option, the $20.00 processing fee will still be assessed.
Paying Fines, Bills, or Fees
Fines, bills and processing fees may be paid at any circulation desk by check or money order. USCard, Visa, MasterCard, or Discover payments are accepted only at Leavey and Doheny Libraries. If bills for lost or damaged materials are not paid at the home library for those items, the holding library must first authorize the bill amount before payment can be accepted.
Outstanding bills for overdue library or Interlibrary Loan materials may result in the revocation of library privileges until the issue is resolved. Furthermore, failure to settle unpaid fines within 30 days from the date issued will result in academic restrictions. Academic restrictions affect the borrower’s ability to register and to obtain transcripts, reports, or diplomas.
The USC Libraries will not release personal information about any borrower to any other individual or organization unless required to do so by law or University policy.
The Patriot Act, promulgated on October 26, 2001 in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, requires that the University offer federal agents, if requested and pursuant to a valid order, access to library patron account information. Additionally, the Patriot Act may also prohibit the University from disclosing to borrowers that they are currently the subject of an investigation by federal agents.
Access to Electronic Resources
Downloads should be limited to a number commensurate with the user’s specific research needs. Information about how to get connected to the USC network can be found on the Remote Access to Electronic Resources page.
Interlibrary Loan Services
Interlibrary Loan (ILL) services work within a global network of institutions to borrow and lend materials that support the role and mission of the university. The USC Libraries’ Integrated Document Delivery (IDD) department borrows books, dissertations, government documents, microforms and other materials for current USC students, staff, and faculty that are not owned by USC, or are otherwise unavailable from USC's collections. There is no charge or fee to current USC students, staff or faculty for this service. Materials from the Health Sciences campus can also be requested through ILL by University Park Campus users.
Once received, ILL articles are made available online, and other materials are held at Doheny Library’s circulation desk. To request an item, go to the Integrated Document Delivery page.
Approximate turn-around times for ILL requests are as follows:
- ILL Article Requests: 48-72 hours
- ILL Book Requests: 3-5 days
Alumni, visiting scholars, fee and courtesy card holders are not eligible for ILL services.
USC’s Norris Medical Library, Wilson Dental Library, and Asa V. Call Law Library provide discrete interlibrary loan and document delivery services for their respective users. Please see details on their ILL/Doc. Delivery services pages:
- Norris Medical Library Services
- Jennifer Ann Wilson Dental Library Services
- Asa V. Call Law Library Services
Patrons with overdue items in the USC libraries system and/or the ILL system will be blocked from using the system and will be subject to late fees and replacement charges.Overdue Interlibrary Loan requests are subject to a $15.00 overdue fine per item, and the patron’s ILLiad account is blocked until the overdue fine is paid. In addition, IDD will not fulfill requests in process, and attempts to re-register with the service will be rejected. Eligibility may also be affected by delinquent statuses with other USC service providers.
ILL items lost or not returned 30 days past the due date will be charged a flat replacement fee of $75.00. This replacement fee may be reduced to $15.00 if the item is returned promptly. Unfortunately, we cannot accept replacements for lost items. Overdue fines can be paid at any USC Libraries location. Excessive or consistently overdue items and demonstrated abuse of the service will result in permanent suspension of ILL privileges.
Document Delivery Services
Document Delivery services provide electronic copies of articles and book chapters from USC-owned journals, books, and other materials. These documents are scanned and posted on a USC Libraries server for easy patron access. Currently, all USC faculty are eligible for electronic delivery of articles from USC-owned materials. Additionally, all students enrolled in distance education courses are eligible for Document Delivery services. There is no charge or fee to the USC community for using this service at this time.
To request an item, go to the Integrated Document Delivery page. Please note that distance learners should register their status as "distance users" when creating an account.
Faculty Proxy Privileges
Proxy borrower cards may be provided for those members of the faculty who have a need or find it convenient to have an assistant retrieve library materials for them. While library borrowing privileges are not transferable, faculty may request that a joint proxy borrower's account be issued to permit a designated second party to check out library materials for the faculty member's use. A separate proxy borrower account must be requested for each individual authorized to borrow materials in the faculty member's name. The faculty member assumes full responsibility for all loans made on each proxy borrower account. Lack of response to recall and overdue notices for materials checked out by a proxy borrower may result in the suspension of both the delegated proxy borrowing privileges and the faculty member's personal privileges.
For security purposes, faculty must obtain proxy borrower cards in person. Faculty may present a USC ID at any library circulation desk and ask to complete the Request for Proxy Borrowing Privileges form. This form must be submitted to a full-time library staff member, as student library assistants do not have appropriate access to create a new borrower account. The USC Libraries will not issue a proxy borrower card if there are any stops on the faculty member's personal borrowing account, on any of the faculty member’s existing proxy borrower accounts, or on the intended proxy borrower's personal borrowing record.
Proxy borrower accounts are valid for one semester. For security purposes, faculty should request extensions for their proxy account privileges in person. It is the faculty member's responsibility to notify the USC Libraries if proxy borrowing privileges should be terminated to prevent unauthorized use of the card.
Library Equipment and Facilities Usage
All libraries are equipped with public information kiosk computers for searching library databases. These computers are networked to B&W/color photocopiers for printing. Many libraries also have additional computers equipped with productivity software. Leavey Library has the largest number of both Mac and Windows computers in the Information Commons and Multimedia Commons. Other libraries have specialized equipment, such as audio-visual players, document scanners, microform readers, digital cameras, audio recorders, video-conferencing equipment, etc.
Please note that computer access requires a USC computer account. USC students, staff, and faculty should use the same login information they use for their USC email accounts. Visitors not affiliated with USC can request access to information kiosk computers at any reference or circulation desk.
Group study spaces, seminar rooms and auditoria can be reserved for academic purposes. Libraries with spaces that can be reserved include Leavey, Doheny, Architecture & Fine Arts, Science & Engineering, and VKC.
Please see the general guidelines for facility and equipment usage on the Library Usage Policies page. Information about filming in library spaces can also be found there. For more information and online requests, please see the Reserve a Library Space page.
USC Alumni Privileges
Alumni may apply for borrowing privileges in person at any library circulation desk by presenting their USC Alumni Card and photo ID and by completing a Library Card Request Form to update their account information.
To give recent graduates time to join the Alumni Association, the USC Libraries will extend their borrowing privileges for five months past graduation. These new alumni should come to the Doheny Memorial Library circulation desk to activate their privileges. For more information, please contact the Alumni Association.
Please note: Only USC students, faculty, staff, and alumni and sponsored guests may be present in libraries open after 10:00 p.m. or before 7:00 a.m. All patrons will be asked to present their USCard or library-issued USC identification during these times.
Retired USC Faculty and Staff
Retirees may apply for borrowing privileges in person at any library circulation desk by presenting their Gold Card issued by the Emeriti Center and a photo ID and by completing a Library Card Request Form to update their account information. For more information please contact the Emeriti Center. Please note that only those retired faculty holding the designation Professor Emeritus are able to access subscription electronic resources from off-campus.
Sponsored Visiting Scholar, VIP Guests, and Summer Program Participant Privileges
Visiting scholars, VIP guests, and summer program participants must be sponsored by an academic or administrative department to obtain library privileges. Upon a recommendation of a sponsoring school’s Dean (or their designate), a visiting scholar’s (a guest’s or program participant’s) information is entered into the iVIP system. For the list of the iVIP program administrators for schools and departments, please click here. The requesting department will assume ultimate responsibility for materials borrowed, as well as for the proper use of library facilities and equipment. Departments are encouraged to obtain USC IDs from the USCard office while users are residence. This ID can be used to enable facilities access and borrowing bound library materials. Remote access to electronic resources is governed by license agreements and does not cover all guests. Library privileges are granted on a semester basis, and a request to extend privileges must be made by the sponsor each semester.
Individual and Corporate Fee Borrower Privileges
Individual fee-based privileges are available for Los Angeles-area residents at the rate of $125.00 for 6 months. Corporate privileges are available to Los Angeles-area businesses for $300.00 for 6 months. The USC Libraries reserve the right to determine whether applicants qualify for individual or corporate privileges.
Students, faculty and staff from local colleges and universities may apply for a reduced fee at the rate of $25.00 for 6 months for currently enrolled students, and $50.00 for 6 months for currently employed faculty and staff. All applications are subject to review for approval.
Fees must be paid by check, money order, or credit card, and privileges are not granted until after the payment has cleared. Individuals must apply for borrowing privileges in person at Doheny Memorial Library. They may do so by presenting a photo ID, completing a Library Card Request Form, and paying the appropriate fee. Additional identification may be required. Students and faculty must show proof of current affiliation at their institutions.
Corporations may request privileges in writing by mailing a letter on corporate letterhead. The request should acknowledge full responsibility for the library account, and designate a specific individual who will be responsible for adherence to library policies. The application procedure must be repeated each semester, although borrowers in good standing may have their privileges extended immediately. Extension of privileges is never permitted if there are outstanding fines, bills for replacement, or stops on the borrower’s account.
The USC Libraries participate in reciprocal access programs with the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) and the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium (SCELC). These agreements allow USC faculty to access library collections at the institutions listed below.
Please note that borrowing privileges are determined by local institutional policies. Faculty visiting the USC Libraries from non-USC institutions will receive "Visiting Scholar" privileges (see above) for 1 month.
Requests for access to other institutions by USC faculty (or to USC Libraries by non-USC faculty) should be directed to Access Services.
The USC Libraries provide library access and borrowing privileges to faculty, students, and researchers from the following institutions:
- Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion
- Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
- American Film Institute
The USC Libraries also work with USC’s Neighborhood Academic Initiative to provide library access and borrowing privileges to local high school and college students through selected programs, as well as to teachers from USC's Family of Schools and Partner Schools. For more information please contact the Neighborhood Academic Initiative.
Requests for Local Affiliation privileges should be directed to Access Services.