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Access and Borrowing Policies

Access and Borrowing

The Princeton Theological Seminary Library is open according to the Library Code of Conduct.

Complimentary borrowing privileges are extended to the faculty, students and staff of:

  • Princeton Theological Seminary,
  • Princeton University,
  • Center of Theological Inquiry,
  • The Institute for Advanced Study,
  • Westminster Choir College, and
  • The Southeastern Pennsylvania Theological Library Association's (SEPTLA) network of member libraries

Annual, fee-based borrowing privileges (in two categories) are available for those not otherwise eligible:

  1. BASIC fee-based privileges: $50/year; borrow up to twenty books at one time
  2. ENHANCED fee-based privileges: $250/year; borrow up to fifty books at one time. Patrons with enhanced fee-based privileges may also recall books from other patrons.

Borrowing Privileges: Identification Cards

Identification cards are required for borrowing* library materials and must be presented at the Service Desk, located on the main (first) floor.

Current students, faculty and staff of Princeton Theological Seminary, as well as Alumni/ae, Visiting Scholars, and CTI, must obtain their identification cards from the Seminary's Housing office. All others must obtain them from the Service Desk.

Identification cards are issued for the balance of the current academic year for students and faculty. Other patrons are issued cards for one year or six months from the application or renewal date or duration of stay. Applications both for new cards and card renewals must be made in person during library hours.

For more information, contact the Service Desk at (609) 497-7940.

* On-site borrowing only; library materials cannot be mailed.

Loan Periods and Borrowing Limits

Members of the permanent ranked faculty of Princeton Theological Seminary and Princeton University, along with Ph.D. candidates at the Seminary, may borrow books until the end of the academic year (June 30). Other patrons may borrow materials for a maximum of four weeks.

Fines begin to accumulate at the expiration of the borrowing period. Normally, a borrower is entitled to the use of a book for a minimum of fourteen days, after which time it may be recalled by another patron.

Library materials may be renewed online before or on the due date. Books may be renewed a maximum of five times, unless there is a hold or recall on them. There is a system limit to the number of books that each patron type may borrow at any one time. Below is a list of the most common patron types.

See also: Loan Periods for Other Formats

Loan Periods By Patron Type
PTS Faculty and Ph.D. Students 500 Academic Year (6/30/__)
PTS Masters Students 50 28 days
PTS Alumni/ae 10 28 days
Princeton University Ph.D. Students 50 56 days
Princeton University Students 50 28 days
Princeton University Faculty 250 Academic Year (6/30/__)
SEPTLA Member Libraries 5 28 days
BASIC Privileges ($50) 20 28 days
ENHANCED Privileges ($250)† 50 28 days

†Patrons who have purchased ENHANCED borrowing privileges may also recall books from other patrons.

Loan Periods for Other Formats

Loan Periods for Other Formats
Curricula 2 weeks
DVDs, videos 1 week
Other non-print materials 2 weeks
Periodicals (journals) and pamphlets In library use only
Reserve items See Textbooks and Course Reserves

Borrowing and Return of Library Materials

To borrow library materials, check them out (charge them) at the Service Desk with a valid library card, return items to the Service Desk. A night book drop, located to the left of the front doors of the Mercer Street entrance, is available for returning items when the library is closed.

All library services end 15 minutes before the library closes. This includes copying and checking out materials.

Borrowing from Other Libraries: Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

ILL is a service provided to Princeton Theological Seminary faculty, students and staff, and to Center of Theological Inquiry (CTI) scholars. Please see our full Interlibrary Loan Policy for more information and to complete a request form.


If an item is currently checked out to another borrower, patrons with recall privileges may recall it.

Princeton Theological Seminary faculty, students, staff, and CTI scholars may recall an item online using the link in the item’s library catalog record. All other borrowers may place requests in person at the first floor Service Desk. Everyone is responsible for honoring recall requests and subject to fines for not returning recalled items.

When an item is recalled, a recall notice is generated with the new due date and sent to the current borrower. The current borrower must return the item by the date indicated on the recall notice. Items recalled by the library, often for Course Reserves, are due immediately.

Failure to return a recalled item by the new due date will incur a fine of $1.00 per day, and the borrower will be prevented from borrowing again until the item is returned.

When the recalled item is returned, the requestor will receive an email notification to pick up the item from the Service Desk within 14 days. If the item isn’t picked up within 14 days, it will be returned to the stacks.

Textbooks and Course Reserves

Textbooks are available for purchase in the Seminary Online Bookstore.

Reserve materials are shelved at the Service Desk. To request a reserve item, go to the Service Desk, and ask for it by call number.

To look up a reserve item, click on the Course Reserve tab of the library catalog. You can search by the last name of the instructor, the course designation, or both. Call numbers are displayed towards the bottom of the library catalog record.

Loan Periods Reserve materials for M.Div. classes have a two-hour loan period, six-hour for Ph.D. classes. Generally, reserve materials must be used inside the library. However, up to two reserve books may be charged out of the library beginning two hours before the library closes. The book(s) must then be returned to the library within one hour of the library opening the next day.

As a courtesy, patrons will receive a reminder 5 days before materials are due. The Princeton Theological Seminary Library assumes no responsibility for non-receipt of courtesy notices. It is still the sole responsibility of the borrower to ensure that materials are returned and/or renewed on time. Failure to return and/or renew a borrowed item on or before the due date or time will incur a late fee (see below).


The following schedule of overdue fines applies to all borrowers:

  • Reserve and overnight books $1.00/hour
  • Recalled items $1.00/day
  • Media (DVDs, videos, CDs) $1.00/day
  • Other non-print materials $0.50/day
  • Books $0.25/day
  • Curricula $0.25/day

Fines are normally paid at the time of return. Recall and overdue notices are sent via e-mail and if necessary by campus mail or U.S.P.S. mail.

When the fines on any user account reach a level of $20 or more, that account will be "frozen" (e.g. no new transactions will be permitted) until the fines are paid. Failure to pay fines and penalties will result in the eventual loss of borrowing privileges.

If an item is not returned within 90 days of its due date, the item is considered lost and will be charged replacement and processing fees (see Lost or Damaged Books below).

Lost or Damaged Books

If you have lost or damaged a library book, please report it to the Service Desk. Once a book is reported lost, patrons have a reasonable amount of time to search for the book, during which time the accumulation of fines may be suspended. If the item is not located, the patron is expected to pay a replacement fee. The automated system will automatically generate a "lost book" invoice for $70.00, an average amount for book replacement and processing fee. The actual amount will vary depending on the cost and availability of the book. The fees for damaged books will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

If you have questions or believe you have received such a notice in error, please communicate with a Service Desk Supervisor in person, over the phone at 609-497-7940, or via email. Patrons may request a receipt for their account status at any time.

Defacement of Library Property

Users are expected to treat library books and other materials with special care, since they ordinarily must serve generations of scholars. Marking in books, even with pencil, cutting or bending pages, and breaking the backs of fragile items to flatten them on a copier are all regarded as defacement of library property. Persons who are found to treat books in such ways will be required, as a condition for retaining or regaining their user privileges, to compensate the library for replacement or restoration costs. Providing such compensation does not give the user title to the defaced item. Particularly flagrant cases of defacement may result in permanent revocation of library privileges and in other actions available to the Seminary under New Jersey law.

For further information on disciplinary procedures, consult the current edition of the Seminary Handbook.