Borrow By Mail Overview

overview, polaris, shared-ext-housekeep

Kelly Hock


With Polaris Borrow By Mail (BBM), you can request library materials for patrons and have the requested materials delivered by mail. A patron can also select the Borrow by Mail feature when placing a request from the PAC* if the patron’s branch enables this option. Libraries can restrict Borrow By Mail options by patron code, establish a fee for the service, and allow exceptions to the fee for some patrons, such as homebound patrons. The BBM option is not available for ILL requests.

If a patron’s registered library has enabled Borrow By Mail, then a qualifying patron can place a BBM hold from any PAC profile or Bibliocommons profile at any CLC library.

The complete Polaris documentation, including step-by-step workflow instructions, can be found In this document.

Below is a brief Borrow-By-Mail overview video from Innovative:

Workflow Overview

  • A staff member or patron places a borrow by mail request
    • There is a checkbox in the hold request workform and in the PAC to choose BBM:

  • The pickup location will automatically be the designated branch that processes Borrow By Mail requests (if the processing branch handles both normal and BBM holds, a pop-up will appear at check-in alerting the staff member to handle the hold as a BBM request).
    • In the PAC, the name of the processing pickup location won’t display; it will always show as “Borrow By Mail.”
  • The hold is routed to the processing location via normal holds routing procedures
  • When the item is trapped for the requesting patron and checked out, each item is packaged with an accompanying letter, mailing label, and return address label.
  • If a special loan period is set for BBM items, the item must be checked out from the request manager workform, and NOT the normal Polaris check-in workform, or the special loan period will not be applied.
  • Mailer printing is available for requests with the status Out from the Request Manager and from the Patron Status workform - Requests view.
  • The wording of the letter and mailing labels can be customized
  • You can handle the requests individually, or you can bulk process Borrow By Mail items when the item is Held at the processing location.
    • To bulk-process BBM items, you can print a checklist of held BBM items from the request workform to use for generating postage and recording tracking numbers, and then use the bulk checkout option from the request workform.
  • Items are checked out to the patron and then shipped.
    • A tracking number can then be entered into the request workform.
    • After check-out and until the item is returned, the request status is Out.
  • Items are checked in via the normal check-in procedure.

Available settings

  • Choose the processing branch at the System Level. It can be an existing branch that will handle both BBM and normal requests, or a new branch set up just to handle BBM requests. At least one location in an organization must be chosen to be able to enable BBM for that library.
  • Customize the PAC and Staff Client display notes
  • Libraries can customize the wording of the letter and mailing labels that accompany the item
  • Add additional days to the patron loan period (note: you must check out items from the request manager workform in order for the special loan period to be applied)
    • This setting is available only if the organization is designated as a processing center. The system uses the processing center’s setting at bulk checkout.
  • Add a fee if desired (and you can choose to omit Outreach patrons from the fee)
  • Limit BBM requests eligibility by patron code
  • Limit BBM requests by material type

What library’s settings are honored

  • An item that fills a Borrow by Mail request created in the staff client is shipped to the processing center designated for the log-in branch of the workstation that created the hold request.
  • An item that fills a Borrow by Mail request from the PAC is shipped to the processing center designated for the patron’s registered branch.
  • Deselect (uncheck) the item material types that should not be eligible to fill Borrow by Mail requests. For PAC requests, the system uses the setting for the patron’s registered library. For staff client requests, the system uses the setting for the workstation branch. The CLC will uncheck the e-material material types ahead of time if you want to begin using Borrow-By-Mail.
  • You can prevent a specific item from filling a Borrow by Mail request by checking Do not mail on the Item Record workform - Cataloging view.
  • Check the patron codes for the patrons permitted to place Borrow by Mail requests. The system uses the settings for the patron’s registered branch in both the staff client and PAC.

How BBM affects other CLC libraries that don’t participate in BBM

  • Other libraries’ materials can be held for BBM if the material type is eligible for that patron’s registered library. This may affect loan period/how long the item is out.
  • The BBM checkbox will show up for a patron whose registered branch has BBM enabled in ANY PAC profile, so libraries might want to look at how the added checkbox affects their PAC layout.

*Note: The Polaris API that Bibliocommons uses supports the BBM “flag/option”, but the Borrow By Mail functionality is not yet functional in Bibliocommons.