Borrowing Policies & Fines

Our libraries are open to members of the University community and the general public for onsite use. The following details the policies for borrowing.

Only items from the circulating collections are loaned. Current periodicals, microforms, and some media materials normally do not circulate.

Eligibility | Borrowing | Fines | Reserves | Questions


Currently registered/enrolled students, faculty and staff of the University may check out materials from the libraries with their valid Mason ID. Enrollment and eligibility status is determined by the University’s Registrar’s system and Human Resources.

  • George Mason alumni and members of the general public may obtain borrowing privileges as an Affiliate by joining the fee-based Library Passport Program

A current, valid Mason ID or library card is required to borrow materials

  • The University photo ID serves as a valid library card for Mason students, faculty and staff.
  • Authorized non-Mason patrons (affiliates) receive a library card with barcode, which should be presented at the circulation desk along with a picture ID.

Your Mason ID card or library-issued borrower's card is non-transferable.

  • Only the individual named on the card may borrow materials; 
  • Spouses and/or other family members may not borrow materials on your card.
  • Exception: George Mason University faculty may authorize a proxy to borrow library materials in the faculty member's name. The proxy must also have a valid Mason ID card.


Loan Periods

Standard loan periods for items from the Fenwick, Mercer, and Mason Square Libraries circulating collections are:

  • Undergraduates: 4 weeks
  • Graduates: 1 term* 
  • Faculty/Staff: 1 term* 
  • Affiliates: 3 weeks

* Due Dates: January 31, May 31, September 30 (Items may be recalled)

In order to provide access to library materials for as many patrons as possible, the Libraries reserve the right to recall an item from any patron after the minimum loan, or immediately if the item is needed for Course Reserve.

Special Loan Periods

  • Music recordings (CDs & LPs): 2 weeks
  • Videos (DVDs & VHS): 7 days
  • Reference books & bound journals: 5 days
  • Media Course Reserves: 4 hours for students.
  • Print Course Reserves & TextSelect: 2 hours for students (24 hours for faculty & staff), 1 day, 3 days, or 7 days. 

Checkout Limits

Standard checkout limits for items from the Fenwick, Mercer, and Mason Square Libraries circulating collections are:

  • Undergraduates: unlimited
  • Graduates: unlimited
  • Faculty/Staff: unlimited
  • Affiliates: 10 books
  • WRLC patrons: 25 books


Renewals are usually allowed for most items (reference and reserve items are not renewable).  Ways to Renew:


Materials borrowed from any Mason library or from any WRLC library may be returned to any George Mason University Library, regardless of where they were checked out. View locations and hours for all University Libraries.

The University Libraries also have drop boxes in the following locations:

Materials may be returned in the exterior drop boxes 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Reserve items should not be returned to drop boxes. 


Items may be returned via mail using the following address:

George Mason University
Access Services, Fenwick Library
4400 University Drive, MSN 2FL
Fairfax, VA 22030


If you believe you returned an item that is still checked out to your account, please fill out our Claim of Return form.


In order to provide access to library materials for as many patrons as possible, the Libraries reserve the right to recall an item from any patron after the minimum loan, or immediately if the item is needed for Course Reserve.

Recalled items cannot be renewed by the person from whom they are recalled. Patrons who receive a recall notice must return the item to any George Mason University Libraries circulation desk by the adjusted due date to avoid a substantial fine. Items needed for reserve will be recalled by library staff.


Patrons are financially responsible for items checked out on their library account. Pay fines with Mason Money at the circulation desk for any library location (neither cash nor credit cards are accepted). 

Overdue Items

In order to ensure prompt return of library materials, fines are charged on overdue items. 

  • Normal Circulation: $.25 per day per item
  • DVD/VHS Items: $5.00 per day per item 
  • Recalled Items: $5.00 per day per item
  • Reserves: $1.00 per hour per item 
  • Reference Items: $10.00 per day per item

Please note: The maximum fine for most items is $25.00 per item.  The maximum fine for reference items is $50.00 per item. Per item refers to a single book or DVD/VHS.
Because of the nature of Reserve materials and the need for them by other patrons, Reserve fines are non-forgivable.

Lost or Damaged Library Materials

Patrons are responsible for replacement of lost or severely damaged library materials. The current replacement charge for lost books is set at $110.00 per book and $330 per reference item. Other items, including media items and headphones, have their own replacement fees as well. These charges are in addition to any overdue fines.

Items that are damaged but not destroyed while in a patron's possession will result in fines consistent with the degree of damage.

In some cases, a patron may be permitted to offer a new copy of a book to replace one that was lost or destroyed while in their possession. Patrons should check with the circulation department to find out if this may be an option for their circumstances. This option is not available for media or reference items.

Suspension of Library Privileges and University Suspension 

Students with unpaid library fines in excess of $25.00 and/or with more than 5 overdue items are not permitted to borrow any more library materials and are also placed on University Suspension. Suspension prevents the student from graduating, registering for classes, or obtaining official University transcripts.

Once the student has returned all overdue items and paid all outstanding library fines and fees, the library will process a release from suspension. Patrons should allow one business day for release of a suspension after all fines and fees have been paid.


Faculty can place class reading assignments and materials on reserve for student use. 

Print and Media Reserve Collections

Print and media reserve items are kept behind the circulation desk at the Fenwick, Mercer, and Mason Square Libraries.

  • A valid library card must be presented at the desk to use these materials.  Items must be returned to the circulation desk where they were borrowed. 
  • Loan periods are determined by the professor (in collaboration with the Libraries) and are generally 2 hours, 4 hours, 1 day, 3 days or 7 days. 
  • If a 2 hour reserve item is checked out 1 hour before the library closes, it may circulate overnight. These items are due back 1 hour after the library opens the next day.


Faculty may request that digitized items be placed on reserve in their Blackboard courses.  Students may access their E-reserves through their course pages on Blackboard.


If you have questions about circulation or other library policies, please stop by or call any of our libraries.