Patron FAQ's


I received an email notification regarding my request saying “Item Not Available” or “Unfillable.”


What is the Virtual Catalog and why should I use it?

See the Virtual Catalog About Us page.


How do I get to the Virtual Catalog?

You can log in through a link on your library’s catalog, or at


You can login using a valid library card from a participating Massachusetts library network, a valid library card from one of the participating University of Massachusetts libraries, or as "guest". (If you log in as a guest, you will only be able to search for materials, not request them directly. However, you can contact your home library and ask them to request the title for you through interlibrary loan.)

If you experience difficulty logging in, please contact your local library for assistance. 


How do I Search the Virtual Catalog?

How do I Review My Request(s)?

See the VC Patron Tutorial.

If you have any questions, please contact your local library for assistance.


Can I use the Virtual Catalog to borrow magazine articles?

Currently you cannot find magazine listings in the Virtual Catalog. We hope to add the ability to search for periodicals and request articles in the future.


In the meantime, you have several options.

·         Search one of our full-text periodicals databases.

·         Search an individual library or network’s catalog which will often have magazines listed.

·         Search one of the Union Lists of Serials in Massachusetts. A union list of serials helps you identify which libraries own a magazine, and how long they keep back issues.

·         Ask your local librarian whether the article is available via Interlibrary Loan, a regional service that provides copies of magazine articles from all over the world.


How long can I borrow the item?

Generally, materials can be checked out for 28 days. Renewals are not allowed.


Books and other items should be returned at the library where they were picked up.


Can material be sent to my home?

When you make a request through the Virtual Catalog, you must designate a library pickup location. You will be sent notification (usually via email) when the material has arrived at the library you have selected.

Whether a book can be sent to your home or office is a local library policy and funding decision. Please contact your local library circulation department to find out its policy.


Does using the Virtual Catalog cost anything?

Not usually. Material coming through the Virtual Catalog and the statewide delivery system is generally free to Massachusetts residents. No libraries on the statewide Virtual Catalog charge for loans. Other types of interlibrary loan request that you make through your library may have a charge attached to them. If a copy of the requested material cannot be provided at no charge, your approval will be required before a copy of the material is requested for you.


The Virtual Catalog system is supported with state and federal funds.


I am having technical problems when I try to use the Virtual Catalog.

If available, try a different internet browser. Also be sure not to use the “back” button on your browser. Navigate by using the green buttons on the Virtual Catalog page.


If you have a Norton Personal Firewall or Norton Internet Security product, you may have difficulties using the Virtual catalog. Please follow these instructions.


If you are seeing an error message about an Internal Server Error, please follow these instructions.


If you are still experiencing problems, please contact your local library for assistance.


I do not see my local library on the drop-down list to log in.

As new libraries are added, sometimes the alphabetical order of the list is not accurate. Make sure to check the entire list (especially the bottom).


If you still do not see your library, please contact your local library for assistance. 


I am unable to request the item I want.

Sometimes the Virtual Catalog does not allow you to request a title. This can be for a couple of different reasons:

·         You may see the message "The item you have requested already exists in your local library,” This means that the title is owned by and/or checked in on your local system. For instance, if you are a Minuteman Library Network card holder, and you request a title on the Virtual Catalog that is owned and available through the Minuteman network, you will be directed to place a reserve on the Minuteman system, and not through the Virtual Catalog.

·         All copies of that particular title are either not available (not on the shelf) or they are reference books and do not leave the library.

·         You have exceeded the number of requests allowed by your home library, or have outstanding fines preventing you from requesting another item. Contact your home library to resolve the issue if you think this may be the case.

·         You are not properly logged in. Check to make sure you are not logged in as a guest.


Materials that are not available through the Virtual Catalog may be available from other libraries. Ask your local librarian about placing an interlibrary loan request.


I would like to cancel a request.

1.     Login to the Virtual Catalog.

2.     From the Patron Main Menu, select "Review Your Requests". The Patron Inquiry screen will display a summary of all your outstanding requests. It will not display any request history for requests that have been completed (borrowed, returned, and received by the owning library), cancelled, or that have expired or become unfillable.

3.     Click on the title of the request you wish to cancel. You can cancel any request that has not yet been shipped by a lender. If the request has been shipped by the lender, you cannot cancel the request through the Virtual Catalog system. Status and Due Date are toward the bottom of the Request Details screen. Please contact your local library to cancel the request.


If you experience difficulty canceling your request, please contact your local library for assistance. 


I have returned an item but the request is still on my VC account.

For the item to clear from your account, the owning library needs to receive the item. If it has only been a few days since you returned the item to your home library, wait a few days and check your account again.


If it has been longer than a week, please contact your local library for assistance.


I received an email notification regarding my request saying “Item Not Available” or “Unfillable.”

When you receive a message stating that your request has a status of "Item Not Available" or "Unfillable," this means that the owning library (or libraries) is unable or unwilling to lend the item at this time. The owning library does not have to give a reason for denying the request. Some libraries have policies regarding lending of "new" items or multimedia items through the Virtual Catalog. (See Non-Print lending page for more info on multimedia items.)


If you still want the item, contact the staff at your home library. It is possible that they will be able to assist you in borrowing the item. You can also try re-requesting the item at another time through the VC, though it is possible that the owning library may deny the request again.