Onsite Borrowing Program

What is the SHARES Onsite Borrowing Program?

In September 2018, a small group of SHARES libraries began offering reciprocal onsite borrowing privileges to each other’s patrons as part of a year-long pilot project. For more than 40 years, SHARES libraries have offered reciprocal onsite access to the primary constituents of all SHARES partner institutions. This pilot project extended those access privileges to allow for onsite borrowing. More than a third of SHARES institutions are already involved in reciprocal onsite borrowing arrangements outside of SHARES; successful models and protocols already exist. SHARES will build upon those efforts and adapt reciprocal onsite borrowing to the SHARES network of trusted partners. Contact Dennis Massie if you are interested in having your institution join the pilot project.

Participating Institutions

Each participating institution maintains important operational information about the onsite borrowing program on its own Web site, including a link to the application each patron must fill out before visiting a participating library.


Reasons to Participate

  1. Participating in the program is an easy win: goodwill points with patrons with minimal administrative overhead.
  2. Reciprocal onsite borrowing gives our patrons more options for accessing the material they want in a manner that appeals to them.
  3. Many SHARES institutions are already involved in successful reciprocal onsite borrowing arrangements.
  4. Experience shows that patrons follow the rules and books come back.
  5. Numbers will be low and impact on local workflows minimal.
  6. Participating will strengthen consortial ties with other institutions.
  7. The status and good standing of visiting patrons will be confirmed by the home institution before borrowing onsite will be allowed.
  8. The basic SHARES “trusted partner” contract will be in force throughout.

Onsite Borrowing Program Agreement

Institutions participating in the SHARES Reciprocal Onsite Borrowing Program agree to provide reciprocal borrowing privileges to faculty, graduate students, staff, and sponsored undergraduates affiliated with SHARES institutions that are also participating in the program. Borrowers must be vetted beforehand by the home institution confirming the status and good standing of the patron. The libraries agree to provide borrowing through this agreement, according to local circulation policies for guest borrowers.

Read the Agreement


Pilot Policies

Patron Policies and Procedures

  • Patrons must submit an application to their own library before visiting a pilot partner for the purpose of borrowing, indicating which library is to be visited.
  • Upon receiving the application, the home institution will vet the patron; if the application is approved, the home library will notify the patron and the library to be visited by email.
  • Host libraries will email instructions to the visiting patron when the reader card is ready to be picked up.
  • Patrons who show up at a host institution unvetted may be admitted for reciprocal onsite access privileges but will be required to fill out their home institution’s application and wait for a positive response before borrowing will be permitted.
  • Patrons will be encouraged to participate in a follow-up interview or survey for pilot assessment purposes.
  • Visiting patrons are responsible for managing the their relationships with host libraries, aside from the initial vetting from the home library.


  • There is no cost for reciprocal borrowing privileges; however, borrowing patrons may be charged late return fees and lost item fees according to the lending library’s policies. for communicating with the patron about overdues and recalls.


  • Host Institution Policies and Procedures
  • Host institutions will set their own operating hours for SHARES pilot visitors and will keep current information specifically for SHARES visitors on their Web sites.
  • Materials available for borrowing will vary by institution, reflecting local policies and practices.
  • The number of requests allowed to the guest and the number of concurrent checkouts permitted are based on local policies and practices.
  •  Accounts and expiration dates are set by local policies and practices.
  • The host library will create a patron account in the local circulation system and all items will be charged to the user’s account.
  • The host library will flag the patron account as being associated with the SHARES Reciprocal Onsite Borrowing pilot so that this information can be reported back to the home institution for assessment purposes.
  • The host library will follow local procedures
  • The borrower is expected to return items in good condition to the host institution.
  • Alternately, items may be returned to the borrower’s home institution; however, they will not be discharged from the borrower’s account until they reach the lending library, and fines may accrue in the meantime.
  • Patrons should be advised that best practice is a direct return to the lending library.


  • If borrowers need material in lending institutions converted to accessible formats because of a disability, the borrowers’ home institution will be responsible for meeting the accessibility requirements of these patrons.
  • Home institutions will identify a point of contact at their respective institutions for accessibility requests.

Fiduciary Responsibility

  • Guest borrowers who do not comply with timely return policies may forfeit further borrowing with all SHARES pilot institutions.
  • Libraries will confer when problems with patrons occur, in the usual SHARES manner.


Original Steering Committee Members 2018-2019

Chris Brady, Washington University in Saint Louis
Brenda Cummings, Brandeis University
Clara Fehrenbach, Washington University in Saint Louis
Ronald Figueroa, Syracuse University
Caitlin Finlay, Cornell University
Justin Hill, Temple University
Jennifer Lee, University of California, Los Angeles
Kurt Munson, Northwestern University
Wendy Wilcox, Cornell University
Dennis Massie, OCLC Research

Share Special Collections

The SHARES Sharing Special Collections Working Group has the tools you need to sensibly borrow and lend special collections materials.

Learn More

Policy Rethink

In 2018 and 2019, the SHARES Executive Group engaged with all SHARES participants in rethinking SHARES policies and values.

Learn More

SHARES Project Team

SHARES is managed by the SHARES Executive Group


Dennis Massie

Contact Us

Please use this form for all your SHARES questions, including inquiring about SHARES, reaching out to a SHARES admin, updating contact details, seeking guidance from an ILL expert, or requesting to be paired with a SHARES buddy.