Every industry shares their own unique language. Marketing professionals talk about SEO and ROI; IT professionals discuss bandwidth; user experience experts explain javascript, python, and CSS; and libraries are no different. In your modern library, you may hear staff discussing interlibrary loans (ILL for short), databases, or reciprocal borrowing programs. 

But, what is reciprocal borrowing? In one word, reciprocal borrowing is sharing.

“This reciprocal borrowing pilot program means that cardholders who live in an SCLSNJ member municipality will be able to open an account (for free) at Franklin Township Public Library and borrow library materials,” explained Lynn Hoffman, SCLSNJ director of operations. “And, Franklin Township residents will be able to open an account at SCLSNJ (for free) and borrow from us. All of the borrowing rules from the library loaning the materials, such as loan periods and borrowing limits, will still apply – but a customer will have access to all those extra materials.”

“Ensuring that all residents have equal access to resources and information is a priority for Somerset County. The pilot program with Franklin provides a new path for achieving that goal,” said Commissioner Melonie Marano, library liaison. “I hope similar partnerships can be developed in the future because access to library resources helps to enrich lives, expand knowledge, and strengthen communities.”

Beginning November 22, 2021, both Franklin Township Public Library customers and Somerset County Library System of New Jersey (SCLSNJ) customers will be able to cooperatively borrow physical materials including books, CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, and more.

“This program is vitally important because it lets the population have access to materials that they might not have if they were only using one library,” said January Adams, director at the Franklin Township Public Library. “It opens up the world to them. It lets the public get a taste of other libraries. And, it is something that people have wanted for quite some time. The public has been asking for this, and are surprised that we do not already have this in place. I am all for partnership; I think this is a big deal.”

“Libraries connect people with stuff, with content – it is our collective mission, it is what we do,” said Brian Auger, county library administrator at SCLSNJ. “We are all about sharing so, of course, we should be sharing across jurisdictions whenever we can. In some states, the norm is reciprocal borrowing and I would love to bring this cooperative service to Somerset County. We – Franklin and SCLSNJ – are both big libraries and I think together we can do a better job of serving our mutual audience than we can apart.”

Through this partnership, residents in the cooperating communities will be able to explore the unique collections that each Library has available. Adams is excited to be able to share and highlight Franklin’s “historical collections including their Frederick Douglass collection” as well as their “extensive pet collection.” Auger is excited to share and highlight SCLSNJ’s “impossibly large video collection featuring a unique collection of ‘B’ movies from the 50s” as well as a soon to be launched, innovative “mix-tape musical collection.” 

This reciprocal borrowing pilot program between SCLSNJ and Franklin Township is hopefully only step one in expanding Library cooperation throughout Somerset County.

“My hope is that this will serve as a model for how we might reach out to our other independent libraries in Somerset County and forge a relationship that respects everyone’s independence while also finding a way to open every library door to every Somerset County resident,” said Auger.

To learn more about this program: