Create an Account - Increase your productivity, customize your experience, and engage in information you care about.
Ever had a hard time finding a nonfiction or academic book that was required for a big homework assignment? Need a great beach read or classic romance but don’t want to wait for someone else to return it? The Huntsville Public Library (HPL) is the go-to information resource for residents, providing two primary routes for accessing tough-to-find materials of all types.
Adult Library Technician Mary Kokot explained that membership has its privileges for HPL cardholders.
“While we might wish we could purchase and stock everything anyone might want to read or look through, that’s not a possibility for any library. Our patrons can request books we don’t have and we try to locate them. The InterLibrary Loan system brings things here and the TexShare program allows cardholders to check them out at other libraries across the state.”
When the Library receives a request for items not currently in the catalog, staff conducts a search of databases through the InterLibrary Loan (ILL) system.
When located at participating facilities, items are borrowed for a limited period, usually about 30 days. Kokot said that patrons must be in good standing to use the ILL program, with a limit of five requests available at one time.
The ILL system is free and accessible online at MyHuntsvilleLibrary.com or by calling HPL. Once a request is made, the patron will receive an email or phone call confirming the loan and will again be notified when the book arrives.
“Our first course of action, if we don’t own what a patron is looking for, is to borrow the book from another library through InterLibrary Loan,” Kokot said. “The process to receive an ILL book can take at least 10 days, depending on holiday schedules and availability,” Kokot added. “Also, there are some restrictions about what can be borrowed. For example, we don’t borrow or loan best sellers or books published in the last twelve months, DVDs, music, or rare or expensive books.”
HPL borrows on average about 80 books for patrons monthly, with almost 60 books being sent to other libraries through the same system. A devoted fan of the process shared her thoughts.
“InterLibrary Loans are a great way to read and view all kinds of books. Libraries in other sizes of cities or at universities with specific concentrations may have widely varying collections. I can request scholarly works, niche publications, or just things I never got around to reading the last few years, and it’s very rare that someone isn’t willing to share it with our library.”
Whether or not an ILL results in available books, HPL patrons can also apply for a TexShare card, with access to borrow from over 500 libraries across the state (a great option when on vacation or while visiting out of town friends and family). TexShare is a program provided under the auspices of the Texas State Library. The basic requirement is to be a member in good standing at HPL for at least six months. The TexShare Card is valid for six months and may be renewed if the user remains in good standing. HPL records show it has issued approximately 30 TexShare Cards in the last six months.
“TexShare cards are a simple thing to acquire, with exponential opportunities,” Kokot said. “To check out material from another location, present your photo ID, your HPL library card, and your TexShare Card.”
Each library sets its own lending policies for visiting TexShare cardholders. Kokot suggests that interested parties check online with TexShare before making a trip to another library. Further details are available on the state library’s website: www.tsl.texas.gov/texshare/card.
In addition to ILLs and the TexShare Card, patrons can access a variety of free materials provided through their HPL cards, such as Overdrive (free e-books and audiobooks), Pronunciator (language learning for 80 languages and ESL for 50 non-English languages), ProCitizen (preparation for the USCIS Naturalization Test), and many databases for specialized research and topical categories.
To obtain a free library card at the Huntsville Public Library, applicants must present a valid driver’s license and current piece of mail to verify residency. For more information, call 936-291-5472.