Visiting Patron FAQ

What is Visiting Patron?

Visiting Patron, also known as Reciprocal Borrowing, is an optional service provided by MeLCat to give patrons of participating libraries the option to get immediate access to the materials they need. Patrons may go directly to another library that also participates in this service and check out available and eligible materials in person, using their home library card, without the need to place the request via MeLCat and wait for the materials to be delivered to their home libraries for pickup.

  1. Who participates in Visiting Patron?
  2. How do I join MeLCat?
  3. What do I need to know about the BORROWING side of Visiting Patron?
    • You decide which of your local patron categories are eligible for Visiting Patron service.
    • Once an item is checked out via Visiting Patron Checkout, it is exactly like a traditional MeLCat request. This means:
      • The checked out items will display in the patron’s DCB/local III record like any other MeLCat item.
      • You are responsible for your patrons' checked out items just like any other traditional MeLCat request.
      • Items checked out via Visiting Patron will count towards a patron's MeLCat 50-request limit.
    • Your patrons have the option to return the items they get via Visiting Patron to your library, which you would return to the lending library via RIDES or directly to the lending library.
  4. What do I need to know about the LENDING side of Visiting Patron?
    • You are only lending materials that you loan out on MeLCat. The system will try to prevent you from checking out materials you would not lend, staff need to not override that message.
    • Visiting Patron loans are subject to lending library policies regarding limits for checking out specific formats.
    • If you use the DCB client, you need to also checkout the item on your local system just as you do for traditional MeLCat requests that you ship.
    • If you use the DCB client, you need to have it installed at a circulation desk computer and train front line staff on how to do the checkout.
    • You need to put your MeLCat identifier on items you lend out.
    • Items checked out via Visiting Patron will appear on your MeLCat Institutional Overdues report.
    • Visiting patrons need to present their home library card as well as an ID.
    • Using Visiting Patron eliminates the need for you to manually enter the patron's card into your local system.
    • If the patron has a MeLCat block on their account, their card is expired, or they are not allowed Visiting Patron privileges, you won’t be able to check out items to them. They must contact their home libraries for information and follow-up.
  5. Does Visiting Patron work with non-III sites?
    • Yes.
  6. If my library is an NCIP library, can I still use Visiting Patron?
    • Yes.
  7. In a shared system environment, do all participants have to be Visiting Patron, or can some opt out?  And, do all libraries in that shared system have to join MeLCat or can some go in and some stay out?
    • From a technical perspective, there is no problem with libraries on shared systems making different decisions about Visiting Patron participation. Similarly, not all libraries on a shared system have to participate in MeLCat. Local policy decisions may have been made by the members of some shared systems that impose other more stringent rules on their members.
    • Because of all that is involved in making changes to the system, we do ask that shared systems tell us about any desired changes en masse. This is both labor-saving and reduces the likelihood of error.
  8. Do I need to loan AV materials in order become a Visiting Patron library?
    • No - your library isn't required to lend AV materials. Libraries determine which categories of their materials are available for MeLCat requesting and Visiting Patron lending.
  9. How does my library become a Visiting Patron library?
    • If you are a current MeLCat library and want to become a Visiting Patron library, you need to email the MeLCat helpdesk at so we can schedule the work required. As there is a significant amount of work needed to made this change, we may not be able to guarantee a start date. Shared systems tell us about any desired changes en masse. This is both labor-saving and reduces the likelihood of error.
    • Libraries must select one of the following two options and provide us with the necessary information:
      • Option A - any patron currently eligible for MeLCat requesting should also be made eligible for Visiting Patron as well
      • Option B - only a sub-set of your currently eligible patron categories should also to be made eligible for Visiting Patron. If you choose this option, you need to tell us which local patron categories should be made eligible. 
  10. How do I process Visiting Patron materials?
    • MeLCat libraries can check out the MeLCat wiki new-window-icon.png (password protected site) on how to do so.
  11. More questions?