Circulation Frequently Asked Questions

Applying for a Library Card

  1. How do I borrow books from CSM Library?
  2. How do I get a library card at CSM?
  3. If I do not have a California ID or other ID with my current address, what other identification will CSM Library accept?
  4. I have a library card from the City of San Mateo Public Library (or other public library in San Mateo County). Can I use this library card to check out books at CSM Library?
  5. I am a distance education student who cannot physically get to the CSM campus or any library within the Peninsula Library System to obtain a card. How do I get a library card, or access to the Library's online databases?

Borrowing, Renewing, and Returning Library Materials

  1. How many books may I borrow at one time from CSM Library?
  2. Can I return books at CSM Library that I borrowed from another library in San Mateo County or vice versa?
  3. How long may I borrow books from CSM Library?
  4. What if I lose or damage a book or other library item that I borrow?

Requesting Library Items (Placing Holds)

  1. What is "placing a hold" or "requesting an item"?
  2. How will I know my hold is ready to pick up?
  3. I've already placed a hold on an item, but now I want to change where I pick it up.
  4. I'm having trouble getting email notification of holds and overdue materials. What do I do?
  5. I placed a hold on a title in the Online Catalog but when the hold was filled it was for a different volume than the one I wanted. How can I place a hold on a specific volume?

Paying Fines and Fees

  1. How much are fines for overdue books and magazines at CSM Library?
  2. How do I pay my fines online?
  3. Is there a minimum amount for payment?
  4. What will show up on my credit card statement?
  5. What forms of payment are accepted online? What about PayPal?

Other Questions

1. Applying for a Library Card

How do I borrow books from CSM Library?
You will need a Peninsula Library System (PLS) library card. If you have a library card from any public library in San Mateo County, you may use this library card to borrow materials at College of San Mateo Library.

How do I get a library card at CSM?
Anyone can get a library card at CSM Library as long as they do the following: Present a California I.D., California driver license, or other valid photo identification verifying your residency in California.

If I do not have a California ID or other ID with my current address, what other identification will CSM Library accept?
A photo ID with your first and last name is acceptable, such as a passport or student ID card. If the photo ID you have does not have your current local address in California, you will also need to present documentation with this information. Examples of acceptable documentation verifying your current local address in California are your CSM class schedule (also referred to as a print bill schedule) or a utility bill.

I have a library card from the City of San Mateo Public Library (or other public library in San Mateo County). Can I use this library card to check out books at CSM Library?
Yes. CSM Library is one of the many libraries in the Peninsula Library System (PLS). Your library card from any of these PLS libraries will allow you to borrow books, magazines, CDs and other material from any public library in San Mateo County, regardless of which PLS member library issued you your card.

I am a distance education student who cannot physically get to the CSM campus or any library within the Peninsula Library System to obtain a card. How do I get a library card, or access to the Library's online databases?
Complete the Online Library Resource Access Application. Upon verification of your enrollment status as a student enrolled exclusively in online courses we will e-mail or send you a library barcode number that will enable you to remotely access the CSM Library's online research databases until the end of the current semester.

Please note that you will not be able to check out library books or other materials with this number. To borrow books and other library materials you must successfully apply for a library card which requires that you come into the College of San Mateo Library or any other PLS Library and present a photo ID and proof of your current mailing address. You may receive a new library barcode number when you receive a regular library card.

2. Borrowing, Renewing, and Returning Library Materials

How many books may I borrow at one time from CSM Library?
Altogether you may borrow no more than ten books at one time from CSM Library and no more than five books per subject.

Can I return books at CSM Library that I borrowed from another library in San Mateo County or vice versa?
Yes. In either case, your books will be immediately checked in and promptly returned to the library from which they were borrowed.

How long may I borrow books from CSM Library?
You may borrow books from CSM Library for three weeks. You have the option to renew any of the books for an additional three weeks as long as there are no holds on the book(s) you wish to renew.

What if I lose or damage a book or other library item that I borrow?
When you borrow books or other library materials from the Peninsula Library System you are agreeing to take care of the materials for the duration that you have them. It is your responsibility to ensure that all library materials you borrow are not damaged or lost and that they are returned in a timely manner. If library materials that you borrow are damaged or lost, you are responsible for fines and/or fees that are assessed for such materials.

3. Requesting Library Items (Placing Holds)

What is "placing a hold" or "requesting an item"?
If a book or any library item is checked out, and you want to borrow it, you may request it by placing a hold on it. Or, if an item is at one library and you would prefer that it come to another library of your choice, rather than going to that library to pick it up there, you may place a hold on it. You may place a hold by contacting or going to any of the PLS libraries or by using the PLS Online Catalog. At most libraries, a 75 cent fee per item is charged for requesting an item to be held. However, CSM Library will waive this fee for any item that is picked up at CSM.

How will I know my hold is ready to pick up?
You will receive a telephone call from our automated telephone system when your item is ready to be picked up at the library you chose when you placed the hold. If you would prefer to receive email messages for holds or fines notices, see library staff or login to your library account to set your notice preference. To receive library notices via text message sign-up for the library's SMS (Simple Message Service).

I've already placed a hold on an item, but now I want to change where I pick it up.
This is not possible in the Online Catalog. To change a pick-up location, visit or call your local library.

I'm having trouble getting email notification of holds and overdue materials. What do I do?
For basic troubleshooting see the Email Notification FAQs.

I placed a hold on a title in the Online Catalog but when the hold was filled it was for a different volume than the one I wanted. How can I place a hold on a specific volume?
When you encounter a record in the catalog that has items for different volumes, parts, or years, you need to call your local library and ask a librarian to place a "copy-specific" hold for you to insure that you receive the item that you want.

4. Paying Fines and Fees

How much are fines for overdue books and magazines at CSM Library?
A 25 cent fee is charged per item for each day beyond the item's due date. (e.g., the total overdue fine for a book that is returned three days past its due date is $0.75.). To avoid overdue fines please return books in a timely manner, or renew them before they are due. Fines for overdue library materials may be paid at CSM Library or any PLS Library.

How do I pay my fines online?
To pay online, login to your library account and click on the link labeled “unpaid fines and bills.”

Is there a minimum amount for payment?
No.

What will show up on my credit card statement?
You will see <Your Local Library> Library Payment. (Your Local Library being the PLS library designated as your home library.)

What forms of payment are accepted online? What about PayPal?
Visa and MasterCard credit cards are the only forms of payment we can accept at this time.

5. Other Questions

The question I had in mind does not appear in this list. Where can I get more information?
A librarian or other staff member of College of San Mateo Library will be happy to provide additional library-related information at 650-574-6232. You can also find additional information in the Peninsula Library System's list of Frequently Asked Questions.