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Circulation Policy


The Public Library of Johnston County and Smithfield Board of Trustees has adopted the following Circulation Policy to inform library personnel and the public regarding the Library’s operating principles.


The Public Library of Johnston County and Smithfield (hence known as “PLJCS”) provides access to its circulating collection of materials to all citizens of Johnston County meeting eligibility requirements adopted by PLJCS for borrowing public library materials.


PLJCS is a member of the NC Cardinal resource-sharing consortium, which is a consortium of North Carolina public libraries that share an online catalog,  integrated library system (ILS), and resources with other member libraries. PLJCS applies the same privileges, responsibilities, and fees to all NC Cardinal cardholders no matter which NC Cardinal library originally issued the patron’s library card. 


I. Registration

Applicants for library cards must show adequate and accurate identification. Acceptable identification is defined as a valid North Carolina Driver’s License or other government-issued identification with a photo and a current address, or an official photo identification card or either a utility bill, printed check, property tax statement, canceled mail postmarked within 30 days, or a typed lease with a current address. Unless specified, library cards are issued for three years and are renewable if there are no fees, blocks, or excessive fines attached to the account.

A. Eligibility

  • Residents of Johnston County

  • Owners of property in Johnston County

  • Students or teachers in Johnston County

  • Owners of existing companies or corporations licensed to operate in Johnston County

  • Works in Johnston County

  • Residents of contiguous counties to Johnston County (Harnett, Franklin, Nash, Sampson, Wake, Wayne, or Wilson)

When applying for a library card, all applicants will be searched through NC Cardinal’s online patron database (Evergreen) to verify they do not already hold an NC Cardinal library card. Per the NC Cardinal Multi-card Policy ( ): 

It is the policy of the NC Cardinal consortium that all member libraries honor the library cards of all other member libraries, allowing patrons the fullest access to NC Cardinal consortium materials. Because the consortium does not currently share electronic resources consortium-wide, patrons may maintain library accounts in more than one member system in the consortium based upon the established patron registration policy for each library system.

If a patron requests a new library card or wishes to use their existing library card in another NC Cardinal library, (PLJCS staff) will follow the recommended procedures (Appendix D).


Cardholders are allowed only one Johnston County Library card in their name (with the exception of a Student Access account for students and teachers). 


The Library will not provide, verbally or in writing, a patron's library card number in lieu of replacing a lost card. Cards damaged by regular wear and tear will be replaced by the Library at no cost to the patron. 


The Library reserves the right to withdraw borrowing privileges from any patron providing the Library with false registration information. 

B. Juvenile Cards

The child and the parent/guardian must be present for children ages 5 to 16 to obtain a library card. The parent/guardian is required to show some form of identification (picture ID, military ID, passport). Upon registration, the parent/guardian assumes responsibility for all materials and any fines incurred through the use of the child's card. The parent/guardian also assumes the responsibility to monitor the content checked out by the child. Library staff is not responsible for the monitoring of any library card. The parent/guardian also agrees that the child can use public computers in the library.

The Library Director and staff retain the right to modify the registration process for youths in situations where the above policy does not apply.

C. Institutional or Outreach Registration

Agencies and institutions can register for a PLJCS Library card. The employee registering the agency will be designated as the lead user for the agency’s card. It is the responsibility of the lead user to notify the Library of any account changes including providing a list of authorized employees who may use the card. Authorized employees must present a photo ID or the library card when checking out materials.

D. Virtual eCards

Virtual e-cards allow a patron instant access to the library’s online materials and resources, such as eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, and available databases for research. Potential users can apply for the Virtual e-cards via the library’s website ( Patrons that apply and receive a Virtual eCard may come to the library to pick up their actual, physical card within one (1) year before the card is considered inactive.

E. Student Access

These are library accounts for students and teachers in Johnston County. Student accounts allow access to the library’s online resources and up to 10 print items and/or audiobooks at a time. These electronic cards utilize a student’s or teacher’s school ID number. No overdue fines will be charged to the student account. The student or teacher is responsible for lost or damaged materials. Any holds placed using a student account can be held at any Johnston County Affiliated Library.

F. Patrons’ Responsibilities

  1. Patrons should report any change in name, address, telephone number, or email address to the Library immediately.

  2. A patron must present a library card or acceptable identification for account retrieval in order to check out library materials.

  3. All library cardholders are responsible for all borrowed materials. All materials must be returned in the same condition as when those items were borrowed.

  4. If a patron loses a library card, the cardholder must notify the Library immediately to avoid unnecessary charges. A patron is responsible for all materials checked out on their card until the owner notifies the Library that the card has been lost.  The library card can be replaced for a charge set by the Library Board.

  5. The Library reserves the right to deny service to any patron when there is reasonable doubt that they are the owner of the card presented; patrons must present acceptable photographic identification in this situation

II. Cardholder Privilege

PLJCS provides access to its circulating collection of library materials to any cardholder, regardless of age.  The library staff does not act in loco parentis.  Decisions concerning a child’s use of specific library materials and/or electronic resources are the responsibility of the child’s parents or guardian.  A patron can request at any time a printed receipt that lists the due dates for their items. Also, item due dates are available via the patron’s online NC Cardinal account or by calling the Library.

A. Borrowing Limits

Patrons of PLJCS are limited to borrowing a total of twenty-five (25) items at one time on a library account. Library materials that may be borrowed are listed in Appendix A, “Loan Period Schedule.” 

B. Holds

Because PLJCS is a part of the NC Cardinal consortium of public libraries in North Carolina, patrons have access to the collections of the other participating member libraries. Patrons may reserve up to 25 items in person, by telephone, or online, from any Johnston County Affiliated Library or other NC Cardinal libraries to be delivered to their home library of choice. 


Patrons shall be notified upon the arrival of their item(s). Automated notifications of delivered materials will be in the form of an email or text message. These preferred contact notification methods are encouraged for a more expedited library experience. If neither automated notification method is selected for the patron’s account, a phone number can be used to contact the patron. However, utilizing this third option does not guarantee an expedited response for notification(s).


Items shall be held for no more than 7 days from the date the patron was notified of the availability of the item(s).


Holds will not be fulfilled if a patron’s account exceeds the maximum fine threshold. The Library reserves the right to cancel holds that are older than six months and have not been fulfilled.

C. Checkout Periods

The checkout period for circulating library materials is listed in Appendix A, “Loan Period Schedule”.

D. Renewals

Certain library materials may receive up to two (2) automatic renewals if no reserves have been placed upon the materials. Patrons who have an email account associated with their library account will receive a notice via email that lists which items were successfully renewed and which items were not renewed. Library cardholders may also renew library materials in person, by telephone, or through the online public access catalog (OPAC) by using their library card number and pin number (by default the last 4 numbers of their registered phone number). Library materials that may be renewed are listed in Appendix A, “Loan Period Schedule”.

E. Returning Items

Unless stated otherwise, all items owned by an NC Cardinal member library can be returned to PLJCS.


PLJCS maintains an outdoor twenty-four (24) hour book drop for patrons’ convenience. Items returned via the book drop when the Library is closed will be backdated to the previous day the Library was open. Returns made while the Library is open are treated as being returned during that day. The book drop is not checked on Sundays. Items owned by a library outside of an NC Cardinal library should not be returned to PLJCS. Patrons that return out-of-system items to the Library may be subject to the costs the owning library undertakes to retrieve the items.

F. Overdue Notices

Patrons with an email address on file with notices enabled will receive formal overdue notices indicating that item(s) have not been returned according to the Notifications to Patrons Schedule listed in Appendix B. PLJCS reserves the right to send out additional notices and to vary the format for dispensing the notices at any time. It is the sole responsibility of the patron to keep their email on file up-to-date to receive these notices. 

G. NC Cardinal

Materials that are not available at PLJCS may be requested from any NC Cardinal member library through the online public access catalog (OPAC) or through library staff. Conversely, the Library’s materials are available to be placed on reserve at any other NC Cardinal library after an initial six (6) month protection period. Any material borrowed through NC Cardinal will be subject to the same check out limits and fees as local materials and is subject to any additional policies enacted by the NC Cardinal consortium. More information and policies can be found at the State Library’s website for NC Cardinal (


III. Patron Accounts

A. Expiry of Library Card

PLJCS must maintain accurate contact information of our patrons, therefore all adult and juvenile issued cards from PLJCS have an expiration date of three years from the date of initial registration or the date of card renewal. School accounts, institutional accounts, and Internet cards have an expiration date of one year from the date of initial registration or the date of card renewal. 

B. Renewal of Library Card

To renew a library card in person, a patron must present their library card or photo identification. To renew over the phone, a patron must state their library card number, and date of birth, and verify all pertinent registration information. When renewing a library card, a patron will be asked to provide their current address, phone number, and email address. The account will be updated if the information provided differs from what is currently listed on the account. Patrons who have legally changed their names must provide proof of name change (updated photo ID, legal documents, marriage certificate).

While renewal of the library card must be made by contacting the library staff in person or by phone, library patrons can update their password and email address online utilizing the PLJCS website’s online public access catalog, located at

C. Online Access

All PLJCS cardholders have access to an online account. Separate registration to access any PLJCS online materials is not required. To sign in, patrons must have their library card number or username and personal identification number (PIN). Patrons can use their account to view checkouts and holds, renew items, update their password (PIN) and email address, and set personal preferences for their account such as circulation history.

D. Personal Identification Number (PIN)

A PIN is needed to access the PLJCS online account as well as library resources and databases, such as NCLive or the library’s e-book and e-audiobook collection. Patrons with an email address on file may reset the PIN themselves through the online account login page. Patrons may also reset their PINs via the phone by providing their library card number, their name, date of birth, and one additional identifier matching the information on their account (address, phone number, email, etc.).

E. Patron Account Retention

In accordance with the Library’s Records Removal and Retention Policy, PLJCS library cards are marked inactive after a period of three (3) years from the current expiration date of the card. The information associated with the account, including checkouts, holds, and fines will be retained for three (3) years after the card has been marked inactive. If an account has not been renewed after those six (6) years of inactivity, the record and all associated information will be expunged from our patron database.

F. Privacy of Patron Records Statement

The Library will uphold the privacy of any patron who utilizes the library and not make any inquiry into the purposes for which a patron requests information or books. It is the policy of the Library not to yield any information about its patrons or their reading to any agency of government, whether local, state, or federal, without an order from a court of competent jurisdiction.

Any issues relating to the privacy of circulation records are to be referred to the Library Director, who in turn will notify the Library Board of Trustees.

IV. Fines

PLJCS does not attach overdue fines to a patron’s account. It is the responsibility of the patron to return borrowed items on time so that other patrons may be given the opportunity to check them out. Overdue notices will be sent out via email and/or text messaging as reminders to patrons to return borrowed material in a timely manner. The Notifications to Patrons Schedule is listed in Appendix B. However, in the case of loss or damage to PLJCS materials, the cardholder will be charged the list price of the item. 

A. Disputing Fines

Patrons wishing to dispute fines on their library accounts can do so via email, by phone, or in person at the Library. The ultimate discretion for the voiding of fines falls to the Library Director. Fines for damaged or lost items owned by another NC Cardinal library must be contested with the owning library. PLJCS staff can contact the owning library of the damaged or lost material to assist the patron with their situation.

B. Replacement Materials 

Patrons who lose or damage any library items will be charged the list price of the item. At library staff discretion, patrons may be allowed to purchase a new copy of the exact same item as a replacement. Replacement items must be brand new (proof of purchase required), in the same format and international standard book number (ISBN) as the item that was lost. Patrons must have staff authorization prior to the purchase. The Library is not obligated to take any item in lieu of payment for replacement.

C. Claims Returned

In such instances where a cardholder notices an item still on their record that they believe was returned, they should contact a Library staff member. The Library will look for the item on the shelves or at another member library. If the item is located, all fines on the patron's record associated with that particular item and loan period will be voided. If the item is not located within the library system, discretion for whether the fine should be voided or upheld falls in the hands of the owning library. In the case that PLJCS owns the item, discretion falls to a Department Head to manage the situation or to the Library Director. In instances in which a claimed returned item cannot be located and no fine was assessed, it will be noted on the patron's record.

D. Refunds

The Library does not issue refunds for items damaged by the patron. If a patron has paid for a lost item on their account, the patron has until closing that same day to locate the material and return it to the Library for a refund. Once paid for, any item found is considered the property of the patron. The patron has the option of donating the item to the library.

E. Blocked Accounts

A patron’s library account may be blocked from access to the library’s materials for the following reasons:

  1. Patron has lost material fees on the account that meet or exceed the $15 threshold.

  2. Patron has been banned from the Library per violation of the Library’s Code of Conduct policy.


If the patron has been blocked due to either reason, an automated message will appear on the patron’s account stating as such.

If the lost item(s) are located and turned into the Library, the patron’s account will be returned to good standing and the patron can continue utilizing the library’s services.




Electronic Resources (eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines)

Electronic Resources can be checked out with a valid library card and in good standing. The patron can find instructions on how to access Library Electronic Resources on the PLJCS website. Circulation times vary but generally, patrons are given the option to circulate for seven (7), fourteen (14), or twenty-one (21) days. eBooks may not be renewed and will be returned automatically. Patrons may check e-books in early as a courtesy to other patrons waiting to check them out.


Periodicals are acquired for the Library in order to keep the collection up-to-date, to provide material not available in books, to supplement the book collection, to supply recreational reading, and to serve the staff with professional literature. A display area is maintained for current copies. Magazines of local interest may be kept on file and are considered an important part of the collection (for example, Our State). These items do not circulate.


PLJCS has a selection of newspapers published in the area and out-of-town newspapers, which are chosen on the basis of geographical areas and demand. Gift periodicals and newspapers of limited interest will be accepted -- governed by available space. A display area is maintained for these items. These items do not circulate.

Large print books

The large print collection is maintained for the convenience of library patrons who do not see well. The Outreach Service circulates large-print books from the Library collection. 


Various items cataloged into the collection are based on community and patron’s needs. Examples of such items include but not limited to: e-readers, laptops, and hotspots to allow patrons a broader reach of access. Miscellaneous items can be checked out to patrons whose accounts are in good standing.

Appendix A: Loan Period Schedule










Appendix B: Notifications to Patrons Schedule



















Appendix C: Library Service Fees Schedule




Appendix D: NC Cardinal Multi-card Policy


It is the policy of the NC Cardinal consortium that all member libraries honor the library cards of all other member libraries, allowing patrons the fullest access to NC Cardinal consortium materials. Because the consortium does not currently share electronic resources consortium-wide, patrons may maintain library accounts in more than one member system in the consortium based on the established patron registration policy for each library system. If a patron requests a new library card or wishes to use their existing library card in another NC Cardinal library, please follow these recommended procedures.



When a patron requests a library card, staff should: SEARCH the NC Cardinal consortium database for patrons with the matching name and other identifiers. The scope of the patron search MUST be set to NC CARDINAL.


1. Does the patron have an existing account in the NC Cardinal database?

  • Yes - go to question 2

  • No - Use patron registration to create a NEW patron account following your library’s local patron registration policies.


2. Does the patron owe money to ANY NC Cardinal library?

  • Yes - go to question 3

  • No - go to question 5


3. Is the patron account above the fine limit (purple box around name) or sent to collections?

  • Yes - NO checkout or NEW card. Patron MUST pay bills before proceeding. Patrons in collections must resolve with the library system owed.

  • No - go to question 4


4. Is the patron paying off ALL fines?

  • Yes - go to question 5

  • No - Use the patron's card AS IS. Do NOT change the patron’s Home Library or Permission Group. If the patron’s existing card is expired with no fines, verify/update contact info and extend the expiration date for a week. Do NOT use the Update Expire Date button.


5. Does the patron wish to check out with the existing NC Cardinal card?

  • Yes - Use patron’s card AS IS. Do NOT change the patron’s Home Library or Permission Group. If the patron’s existing card is expired with no fines, verify/update contact info and extend the expiration date for a week. Do NOT use Update Expire Date button.

  • No - go to question 6


6. Does the patron want to get a NEW local card and keep their existing card?

  • Yes - Use patron registration to create a NEW patron account following your library’s local patron registration policies. Patron’s other library account(s) remain in the database as is. Do NOT merge accounts into one.

  • No - Replace the barcode in the existing account with the barcode of the new card for your library. Update patron info, including Home Library and Permission Group to your library system

Adopted by the Public Library of Johnston County and Smithfield on 3/28/2022.

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