Library circulation

Library circulation

Library circulation or library lending comprises the activities around the lending of library books and other material to users of a lending library. A circulation or lending department is one of the key departments of a library.

The main public service point is the circulation desk or loans desk, usually found near the main entrance of a library. It provides lending services and facilities for return of loaned items. Renewal of materials and payment of fines are also handled at the circulation desk. Circulation staff may provide basic search and reference services, though more in-depth questions are usually referred to reference librarians at the library reference desk. The circulation desk is in most cases staffed by library aides instead of professional librarians.

Functions of the circulation desk staff may include:
*Lending materials to library users
*Checking in materials returned
*Monitoring materials for damage and routing them to the appropriate staff for repair or replacement
*Troubleshooting circulation technology, i.e. library circulation software, scanners, printers, etc.
*Collecting statistics on library use, i.e. patron transactions, material checkouts, etc.

Checking out

Many items can be checked out by a computer and do not require any paperwork. But the circulation desk to provide checking out services for items such as as uncataloged items and periodical issues, government documents, maps and microforms. These checkouts are done by the circulation desk staff. The number of books that library patrons can take out varies from library to library.

Checking in

Returned library items are processed by the circulation desk. They usually scan the barcode to identify the item and also de-magnetize the item and dispatch the item on to the shelves.

Document delivery

The circulation desk also liaises with library patrons in delivering electronic articles and documents.


The circulation desk can also look after the reserve section such as past exam papers and unit materials.

Infringement processing

The payment of infringements for late, lost book charges and overdue items are processed by the circulation desk. They can also lift restrictions for library patrons once the fines have been paid.


The circulation desk also handles the shelving of items used from the Reserve section and also the reference section.

Lost and found

Some circulation desks also provide a lost and found service. This includes commonly found items such as library cards / matric card, laptops, wallets, computer media and portable devices.

ee also

*Interlibrary loan
*Library reference desk

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