/    /  FAQ

Library Cards and Account Information

How do I get a library card?

Adults: Library cards are issued free of charge to North Branford residents at the adult circulation desk. To obtain a library card, adults must present a current CT driver’s license or proof of North Branford/Northford residency and complete a library card registration form. Non-residents must obtain a library card from the town they live in and then are welcome to use the North Branford Public Libraries.

Children: There is no minimum age to get a library card, but approval from a parent or guardian is required for children under 14 to obtain a card. A child must be present to receive a card. The borrower or guardian is responsible for the card’s security, for any material checked out, and for any charges incurred.

What if I misplace my library card?

If a library card is lost it will be replaced at no charge. A replacement card can be obtained at the circulation desk with proof of identity such as a driver’s license

How often will my library card expire and how can I renew it?

Library cards are valid for three years. When the card expires it can be renewed in person at the circulation desk at no charge. Card renewals cannot be done over the phone.

Where can I use my library card?

Once you have a valid library card from the Connecticut town you live in, you may use it in any Connecticut public library. Some libraries may require you to present your library card at checkout. 

Checking Out Library Materials

What can I check out with my library card?

Your library card allows you to borrow books, magazines, audiobooks, music CDs, DVDs, museum passes and digital materials.

Is there a limit to the number of items I may have checked out at once?

In North Branford and Northford there are no limits to the number of items you can check out on your card.

Is there a way to see what I’ve checked out in the past?

Yes, there is a way to see what you have checked out previously. However, you must opt-in to this feature. To do so, log into your library account:

Click on Reading History in the left hand column under My Account
Click on Start Recording My Reading History
From this point on you will be able to view your checkout (reading) history
You can opt-out of this feature at any time by going to your reading history and clicking on the red tab – Stop Recording My Reading History
Library staff do not have access to view your checkout (reading) history

May I renew library materials I have checked out?

NEW! Automatic Renewals

North Branford Public Libraries have automatic renewals. If an item is not on hold for another patron, eligible North Branford items will automatically renew before their due date, up to two times. You can now enjoy your materials for a longer period of time without the worry of being late.

We recommend checking your account or calling the Library as the due date approaches to be sure the item is renewable.

Items will not renew if:

  • There is a hold on the item
  • The item has reached its maximum allowable renewals (2)
  • The library account is blocked because it has expired or has fines or fees that exceed $20.00

May I sign up to receive email or text message alerts when materials I have checked out are due back at the library?

Anyone who provides an email address will automatically receive email notifications regarding materials that will soon be due at the library. Anyone who wishes to receive reminders via text should sign up for Shoutbomb.

What is Shoutbomb?

With Shoutbomb, you can receive text messages from the library when:

Items you requested are ready for pickup
Items borrowed are almost due
Items borrowed are overdue
From your Shoutbomb account, you can text the library to:

Check to see what you have checked out
Renew your items, even if overdue
Add/manage multiple library cards in one Shoutbomb account
The library does NOT charge a fee for this service, but your cell phone plan’s text-messaging rates do apply.

How do I register for Shoutbomb?

Text the word SIGNUP to (860) 345-1307. You will receive a reply asking for your library card number.  Text your library card number (the barcode). You will receive a confirmation text. When you receive this text registration is complete.

Returning Library Materials

Where can I return my library materials?

Most materials borrowed from our libraries can be returned to either of the North Branford Public Libraries or to other public libraries in Connecticut (NOT SCHOOL LIBRARIES.) Museum passes, equipment such as lawn games, and materials obtained through interlibrary loan must be returned directly to the North Branford library from which the patron borrowed them. Materials returned to our libraries may be placed in the inside book drops located near the circulation desks as well as the outside book drops located at the entrance of each building. Items left in the book drop after closing time are considered returned on the next business day.

Effective December 1st, 2020 the North Branford Public Libraries are fine free!

Starting December 1st, North Branford Public Libraries are piloting a fine-free initiative by eliminating overdue fines. At the November 2020 Library Board meeting, members approved the implementation of a six-month trial fine free program. Since the start of the pandemic, the library has been waiving late fines for material returned after the due date. With this new policy, the library will no longer charge late fines on most materials including books, DVDs and audiobooks.

Why have we gone fine free?

Going fine free is a growing trend in American libraries and studies have shown that late fines can be a significant barrier to library access and drive borrowers away, particularly among individuals with low or fixed incomes. Libraries are about providing access and going fine free is one more way we’re increasing access to our collections and services. This initiative directly supports the library’s mission of providing equitable access to knowledge and information for all patrons. Eliminating fines for overdue materials means more people in our community have greater access to the library’s vital materials and resources and allows us to better fulfill our mission.

Library experts have found that charging overdue fines inhibits access to library materials and services. Late fines, no matter how small, are a very real and significant burden for low-income individuals, children, and families. Modest penalties deter people from registering for a library card or using the library because of the risk of incurring fines. Rather than motivating borrowers to return items on time, fines act as an inequitable barrier to service. Fines penalize the most vulnerable families and individuals who can least afford them; we want to reverse this trend and get community members back into the library.

It’s good for our community! Our community is stronger and healthier when people have access to programs and services that enhance their quality of life and access to the materials they need to pursue their educational, career, family, and life goals. We all benefit from a curious and engaged community! Libraries are open to everyone and we hope this will encourage prior users to come back to the library and attract new users to experience our offerings

It’s good for our relationships. When you walk through our doors, we want to do our best to help you, not nag you about a late fee. Going fine free makes a trip to the library more pleasant for both you and our staff.

Libraries that have adopted fine-free policies found that the elimination of overdue fines had several positive outcomes:

  • Library card registrations increased
  • Borrowing of materials increased
  • Optimized library staff time by redirecting it from fines-handling to patron-focused services
  • Increased patron access to materials and services
  • Reduced the inequitable impact of overdue fines
  • Improved patron relationships with their library

Late fines are not effective. Studies have shown that small fines have no impact on return rates. According to “Removing Barriers to Access,” a Colorado State Library whitepaper: “The scant research on the impact of library fines and fees does not indicate a clear benefit to administering these polices and may be costly to enforce.”

What does it mean to be fine free?

The library eliminated overdue fines and we do not impose late charges on our materials. The North Branford Library staff want to ensure that everyone has access to the library’s resources. Fines act as a barrier to access and penalize the more vulnerable individuals or families who can’t afford them. You are still responsible for returning your items. We do want all items back but we also want ALL people to be able to use our resources without money creating a barrier. 

Under this new policy, it is important to understand the difference between overdue fines and fees. Overdue fines are the daily charges applied to items not returned by their specified due date. These are the fines that will no longer be charged to patrons. Fees represent the replacement charges applied for lost, damaged, or unreturned materials and are still in effect. Library users are still responsible for fees associated with the replacement of lost or damaged books and other materials they check out.

Overdue fines for late returns have been eliminated; however, patrons who have lost or damaged materials will need to settle their account to reinstate borrowing privileges. To find out if you have a remaining balance on your library account, visit https://nb.catalog.lionlibraries.org/or stop by the library to talk with a staff member.

Will there still be due dates?

Yes. The library still has a set time limit for materials to be borrowed and we expect items to be returned on time. Patrons should make a habit of always returning items on or before the due date. Be respectful of your fellow library users who may be waiting for items to be returned. Bring back materials when they are due so that everyone has equal access to our collections. The library will send you a series of reminders to return your items. Please click here to see our current circulation policies and loan periods.

What if I borrow items from another library?

Fines are set by the lending library. If an item is borrowed from a library that still imposes fines, you will be assessed that late fine. North Branford Public Libraries are not charging late fines on items we own or send to other libraries. 

Do any items have late fees?

Late fees will only accrue on interlibrary loan items. 

Will outstanding overdue fines be waived?

Yes! The Library has cleared all outstanding overdue fines on North Branford items from patron records. If you have charges from lost or damaged material, please speak with a staff member and we will work with you to find a solution. 

What happens if someone doesn’t return their items?

You won’t be charged overdue fines for late returns. Items not returned by the due date are considered late and must be renewed or returned before additional items are checked out, including placing a reservation on museum passes. The Library will issue automated reminders by email or text when due dates are approaching and notices will be sent when an item is overdue. Items overdue by 28 days are considered lost and patrons will be charged for the replacement cost of the item. If you return the items, the bill will be cleared from your account and those replacement fees will automatically drop off your account.


  • Courtesy Notice: 3 days before an item is due
  • First Overdue Notice: 14 days late
  • Second Overdue Notice (bill): 28 days late

The public library model is based upon a trusting relationship between borrowers and a valued community resource. Library staff trusts that borrowers will return items on time, so others may use them. Library cardholders understand that it is their duty to return materials so other people can use them.

What about personal responsibility? How will the Library encourage people to return overdue items?

The library encourages patrons to return books in a responsible and timely fashion to the library so others may enjoy the shared resources of their library. Per the library’s existing procedures, items not returned within 28 days of their due date will go to billed status. Patrons will continue to be responsible for reconciling any billed items on their library account by either returning the items or paying the replacement fee. Patrons with an item with a billed status on their library account cannot check out additional physical materials from the library.

If the library does have a role in teaching public responsibility, it must do so in a way that does not interfere with its core mission and values. The mission statement of the North Branford Public Libraries reads as follows: “We welcome, celebrate and support all people and cultures by offering free access to books, information, resources and the universe of ideas. We believe the transforming power of unfettered access to information is foundational to an enhanced quality of life for an informed, enlightened and engaged population.” Responsibility is an important value for individuals and communities to practice, but not one that permits the library to overlook its essential function. Is teaching civic responsibility one of the library’s key functions? If it is, does its obligation to teach civic responsibility outweigh its commitments to equal access for all patrons? If there is a conflict between teaching responsibility and ensuring equal access, the library is duty-bound to prioritize equal access. Finally, it is not at all clear that overdue fines achieve their intended instructive effect. Overdue fines do not turn irresponsible patrons into responsible ones, they only distinguish between patrons who can afford to pay for the common mistake of late returns and those who cannot.

Perhaps a better alternative to teaching responsibility by meeting due dates is allowing patrons to practice responsible behavior by using the library, reading books, sharing communal spaces, and making sure materials get back to the library. Rather than a permit for irresponsible behavior, fine elimination is a way to ensure all community members continue to have opportunities to practice those skills.

E-Books and More

What kinds of digital materials can I download/access with my library card?

Your North Branford library card enables you to download magazines, eBooks, comics, audiobooks, music, movies and TV shows:

Overdrive – Best-selling and award winning fiction and nonfiction eBooks, audiobooks and magazines

Hoopla – Movies, TV shows, music, eBooks, comic and audiobooks; always available with no hold lists

Palace Project – Library-developed app that allows users to easily discover, check out, and read or listen to digital content, such as ebooks and audio, from the CT State Library’s eGo project and our Overdrive collection

Consumer Reports – ConsumerReports.org is the sister product of the Consumer Reports print magazine–both are published by Consumers Union, an independent nonprofit testing and information organization that provides overviews, ratings, and recommendations. Enter your library barcode when prompted for Patron ID

JobNow – An interactive resume and interview online coaching/career advice resource to help guide patrons through the necessary tasks of looking for and finding a job. Job coaches are available to help patrons with any and all job search-related questions

Great Courses – Unlimited access to hundreds of courses for lifelong learning and personal enrichment on subjects like history, food & wine, finance, travel and much more.

Can I access digital materials from the online catalog?

Some digital media can be viewed through a search of the online catalog. A general search will bring up all formats that a particular title is available in. If you want to search for a specific format you can narrow the search by limiting the format:

Access the online catalog and click GO at the right of the search box
Utilize the Narrow Your Results option (left hand column) to access Format
Click on Format to access the type of digital media you are searching for – i.e. eAudiobook, eComic, eMagazine etc.

Hoopla and Overdrive provide eBooks and audiobooks – how are they different?

Anyone with a valid North Branford library card can download digital content from Hoopla and Overdrive.
The range of content as well as the number of checkouts allotted is different.


Provides access to eBooks, audiobooks and magazines
Titles can be placed on hold and therefore, may be checked out and not immediately available
A maximum of 10 items can be checked out at any given time
You must download the Overdrive app or the Libby app


Provides access to eBooks, audiobooks, comic books, music, TV shows and movies
All titles are readily available at all times
A maximum of 4 items in total can be checked out in one month. Once the maximum number of items has been reached you must wait until the following month to check out more Hoopla titles.
You must download the Hoopla app


Provides access to eBooks, audiobooks and magazines
Titles can be placed on hold and therefore, may be checked out and not immediately available. Exceptions include titles in the public domain, which are readily available at all times and can stay on your SimplyE bookshelf indefinitely (if you choose)
A maximum of 10 items can be checked out at any given time
You must download the SimplyE app

Is there a limit to the number of digital items I can borrow at once?

Anyone with a North Branford library card may check out e-materials from Hoopla and Overdrive or through the SimplyE app.

Hoopla: Access to eBooks, audiobooks, comic books, music, TV shows and movies. A maximum of 4 items in total can be checked out in one month. Once the maximum is reached you must wait until the following month to check out more Hoopla titles.

Overdrive: Access to eBooks and audiobooks. A maximum of 10 items can be checked out at any given time.
Overdrive magazines: Access to over 3,000 popular magazine titles and up to three years of back issues. There is no wait list for issues and no item limits.

SimplyE: Access to eBooks and audiobooks from the CT State Library’s eGo project and our Overdrive collection. A maximum of 10 items can be checked out at any given time.

May I renew digital materials?

Renewing digital titles works a little differently than renewing physical books from the library. Most eBooks and audiobooks cannot be renewed before they expire:

OverDrive – eContent from OverDrive can be renewed within the OverDrive app starting 3 days before the due date if the title is not on hold by other patrons. (You may need to download the title again after renewal.)

Hoopla – Wait for the title to expire and then check it out again. You may be able to place a new hold on the title a few days before the title expires to help ensure continuous reading/listening.

Online Catalog

How do I access the online catalog from outside the library?

Library materials are included in the LION online catalog or through our website

How do I search for the most recent book written by my favorite author?

Access the LION online catalog
Type the author’s name (last name, first name) in the search box
Click GO (located at the right of the search box.)
Click on the heading – Added in the Last – located in the left hand column beneath the heading Narrow Your Results
Click on a particular time frame – i.e. On Order, Month, 2 Months, 6 Months, etc.

How do I limit searches to audiobooks, DVDs, etc.?

You can narrow a search to a particular format:

Access the LION online catalog
Type the title you are seeking in the search box at the top of the page
Click GO (located at the right of the search box)
Click on Format – located in the left hand column beneath the heading Narrow Your Results. If the format you are searching for isn’t immediately visible click on More to access a wider range of options
Select a format –  i.e. DVD, audio CD, etc.

Placing a Hold (Reserving Library Materials)

The item I want is checked out. How can I place a hold on it?

Find the title you want to request in the LION online catalog
Click Place Hold
Enter your Last Name and Patron ID Number (barcode) in the popup box
Select Continue
Verify that the library showing beneath the heading I want to pick this up at is correct. If you want to change the location utilize the right hand arrow to access a drop down menu
If you need the item by a certain date fill in Cancel if not filled by using the calendar to the right of the screen. If you have no time restrictions pertaining to your request omit this step
Click Submit Hold Request

How can I cancel a hold?

Login to your account through the LION online catalog
Click on the heading – Titles on Hold- located in the left hand column beneath My Account
Click on the Cancel Hold button located to the right of the title you wish to cancel
A prompt asking if you wish to cancel the hold will display – click OK

How many holds can I place?

There are no limits to the number of holds you can place

How will I know when my hold is ready for pickup?

We can notify you that a hold is ready by phone, email and text. Anyone who does not register for email or text notifications will receive a call from the library.  

Add an email address or update it by accessing My Account
Register for text messages via Shoutbomb. Text the word SIGNUP to (860)345-1307. You will receive a reply asking for your library card number. When you text your library card number (barcode) you will receive a confirmation text.  At this point, your Shoutbomb registration is complete.

How long is a hold held for me?

An item on hold stays on the hold shelf for 7 days before it is returned to the circulating collection.

I am going on vacation. Can I pause a hold?

Yes, if you have requested materials and want to “pause” your requests you can freeze them. This means that your holds will not be fulfilled until you “unfreeze” them but you will still maintain your position in the request queue. (Holds on eBooks and eAudiobooks cannot be paused.)

Login to My Account
Click on Titles on Hold (Left hand column)
Click on the check box to the right of the title (titles) labeled Freeze Hold. If there is no check box available you cannot freeze the title as this means that the item is available or on the way to you.
Click the MAKE CHANGES button
A frozen request displays more faintly and the FREEZE box is checked
To reactivate or unfreeze a hold uncheck the checkbox and click the UPDATE button
Click the MAKE CHANGES button

Computer and Internet Access

Can I use a library computer if I don’t have a library card?

The libraries have a number of Dell computers available for public use. You do not need a library card to use one of these computers but you must sign in at the Circulation Desk.  

How do I reserve a library computer?

Public computers are available on a first-come-first-served basis. Sign in at the Circulation Desk to use one of the available computers.

Do library computers have internet access?

All of the public use computers in the libraries have internet access.

What software do the library computers have?

Each Windows 10 computer is loaded with:

Web browsers: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge
Microsoft Office 2016: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher

May I use a flash drive on a library computer?

All of the library computers have USB ports and accept flash drives.

Can I print files from a library computer?

Yes, you can print files from a library computer; pages will print in the adult circulation department. There is a fee of $.10 per page for black and white copies and $.25 per page for color copies.

Does the library have WiFi?

The libraries offer free wi-fi access for your internet-connected devices. There is no card number or password requirement. Simply connect and you are free to browse the Web.  

Can I plug my device into electrical outlets in the library?

Yes, electrical outlets are available at many desks, workstations, and reading chairs.

Can I print files from my device using library printers?

Yes, you can utilize a library printer to print files from your mobile device:

Access the file you want to print
Select print from the dropdown menu at the top of your screen
Choose the printer identified as Atwater Library or Smith Library
Your printed copy will be available at the Adult Circulation Desk. The cost of a single-sided copy printed in black and white is $.10 per page. The cost of a single-sided page printed in color is $.25 per page.

Library Services

How do I use a copier at the library and how much does it cost?

Each library has a self-service copier available. The cost of a single-sided copy printed in black and white is $.10 per page. The cost of a single-sided page printed in color is $.25 per page.

Can I send or receive a fax at the library?

Outgoing fax service is available at both libraries at the adult circulation desks. Faxing costs $1.00 for the first page and $.50 for each additional page. The Library will provide a fax cover sheet upon request. This cover sheet will not count toward the total number of pages being sent. The Library does not accept incoming faxes on behalf of patrons.

How can I find out about library sponsored programs?

Numerous programs are offered for adults and children at our libraries. All library programs and program updates will be listed on our website. Access the libraries on Facebook, sign-up to join our email list and receive our e-newsletter and announcements about upcoming events or stop in at either library and speak to one of our librarians to find out what’s happening.

Does the library have study rooms?

The Seminar Room in each library may be reserved for study purposes or for use by non-profit groups. To promote the accessibility of the Seminar Room to a wide variety of users any individual or group is limited to a total of 3 outstanding reservations at one time. Six fit comfortably in the Seminar Room.
Reservations for using the Seminar Room can be made by calling the library or online through our online calendar.

Does the library have a meeting room that I can reserve?

The Community Room at each library may be reserved for non-profit and public functions. Rules and procedures as established under the Meeting Room Policy govern use of the Community Room. To promote the accessibility of the Community Room to a wide variety of users, any individual or group is limited to a total of 3 outstanding reservations at one time. The maximum occupancy of the Atwater Community Room is 36, and Smith’s is 34.
Reservations for using the Community Room can be made by calling the library or online through our online calendar.

Does the library have a delivery program for residents who cannot get to the library?

Yes, the North Branford Libraries offer home delivery of library materials to North Branford residents who are permanently or temporarily homebound due to disability or health problems. Whether you like to read books and magazines, watch DVDs, or listen to audiobooks and music, the library will arrange to have items delivered to and picked up from your home by staff members. Please call the Atwater Memorial Library (203-315-6020) or the Edward Smith Library (203-484-0469) for further information.

Does the library have a book club?

Yes, a book club meets monthly at the Atwater Memorial Library on the third Thursday of each month at 12:00 noon. Check our Facebook site, signup for our e-newsletter or stop in at one of the libraries to get details.

Does the library publish a newsletter?

Yes, we have an e-newsletter so you can stay up-to-date on upcoming programs, resources and services at the libraries. You can subscribe by entering your first and last name and email address in the “Subscribe to our e-newsletter” box on our homepage.

Get Involved

Does the library accept donated materials?

The Atwater and Smith Libraries are grateful when people think of donating books and other materials. Every gift to the library must be reviewed and approved by the Library Director before being cataloged. Donated items which the library is not going to keep may be sold or given away. Please refer to our donation guidelines. For receipt of donated materials, please bring this completed form to the Library for approval.

Does the library sponsor a used book sale?

Yes, both the Atwater and Smith Libraries have an ongoing used book sale.  Donations for this sale are accepted at the adult circulation desk.  Please do not put donated materials in the book returns at the front of the building or at the circulation desks. Proceeds from the sale go toward the funding of library programs.

How can I volunteer?

The library’s volunteer program is designed to enhance public service to the community.  Volunteers generally provide support services to paid staff and/or work on special projects. Anyone wishing to volunteer should contact the Library Director, at director@nbranfordlibraries.org or complete and submit our volunteer application