About Us


Visit: Circulation Desk, Library Main Floor
Call: 413-662-5321
Text: 413-224-6600
Frequently Asked Questions

Circulation Policies

Who can borrow materials?

MCLA full- and part-time students, faculty, and staff

  • Can borrow materials from Freel Library with their MCLA ID card.

Community members, Alumni, Williams College Faculty and Students (see our community borrowers policy for more information)

  • Berkshire County resident: must provide valid MA license or state ID with photo and current address; if address on license/ID is not current, must also provide second proof of address (copy of current lease, utility bill, etc.)
  • MCLA alumni: must provide valid license/state ID with photo and current address; if address on license/ID is not current, must provide second proof of address (copy of current lease, utility bill, etc.) Note: A list of MCLA alumni who have registered for library borrowing privileges may be shared with the Alumni Relations Office periodically. (Information about materials borrowed or consulted will never be shared!)
  • Williams College faculty/staff member: must provide current, valid Williams ID card with photo (if no photo, second form of photo ID required)
  • Williams College student: must visit Williams libraries beforehand & meet with a Williams librarian, who will email MCLA to verify you are a student in good standing; must bring current, valid Williams ID card with photo (if no photo, second form of photo ID required)

HELM Library patrons

  • Patrons of other academic libraries in the HELM consortium can place holds on items through the HELM catalog for delivery to their home libraries. HELM patrons may also borrow in person at MCLA.
  • If you are a patron at another HELM institution, please contact your library for assistance in locating and borrowing materials.

Loan periods, renewals, maximum number of checkouts

  MCLA/HELM Students MCLA/HELM Faculty & Staff Community Borrowers, Alumni, Williams College Students and Faculty
Circulating Books 28 day loan; one 14 day renewal 1 semester (fall/spring/summer) loan; 1 semester renewal 28 day loan; one 14 day renewal
Reserves In-library use only In-library use only Non-circulating
Faculty Collection DVDs In-library use only 7 days In-library use only
Popular DVDs 7 days; one 7-day renewal 7 days; one 7-day renewal 7 days; one 7-day renewal
Laptops/Chargers 7 days Non-circulating Non-circulating
DVD  Players 7 days 7 days In-library use only
Other equipment (chargers, headphones,, etc.) In-library use only In-library use only In-library use only
Maximum number of simultaneous checkouts 50 50 5

How can I renew an item?

Items cannot be renewed if you have any fees on your account.

What are the policies for borrowing reserve books?

  • Limited to students, faculty, and staff
  • Reserve items must be used in the library; they cannot be taken out of the building.
  • Limit: 5 reserve items per card
  • Students must leave ID at desk during lending period 

What about fines and fees?

  • Fines: None
  • For all hardcover and trade paperbacks; standard paperbacks; compact discs; and DVDs: cost of material/cost to replace, plus $10.00 processing fee
  • ILL and HELM items: cost of replacement is at the discretion of the owning library
  • Cards will be blocked if patron owes more than $50 in replacement costs until materials are returned or charges are paid.

How do I borrow material from another library?

Check our Interlibrary Loan page for information on how to borrow materials that MCLA does not own.

Community Borrowers Policy

Who may apply for a Freel Library Community Card?

  • Residents of Berkshire County ages 18+
  • MCLA Alumni
  • Current Williams College faculty/staff (with valid Williams ID)
  • Current Williams College students (please consult Williams librarians for an email of introduction before coming to Freel Library in person, and bring your Williams ID card)

How to Apply for a Freel Library Community Card

  • Please plan to visit the MCLA library during regular business hours (M-F, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m) to fill out an application. If visiting during normal business hours is not possible, please call ahead (413-662-5321) to verify staff availability.
  • Local residents and MCLA alumni must present proof of current address (a valid license or state ID card with correct address; if address on ID is not current, also provide recent utility bill, mortgage statement, or copy of current lease).
  • Williams College faculty/staff/students must show a Williams ID card with photo. MCLA library staff may contact Williams library staff to verify current standing.

Freel Library Borrower Card Privileges & Responsibilities

  • A Freel Community Card allows you to check out a total of 5 eligible items for 28 days with one renewal for 14 days.  You can renew on the phone, in person, or online (see library staff to set up an account in the online catalog).
  • Items remain the borrower’s responsibility until they are checked in at the MCLA Library. It is safest to return materials directly to the library desk in person, to the drop box outside the Freel Library exit, or via U.S. mail (Freel Library, 375 Church Street, North Adams, MA 01376). You may choose to return items to Berkshire Community College or a C/W MARS library, but you remain responsible for the items until they arrive back at MCLA.
  • The library does not charge daily overdue fines for late items, but once items become 28 days overdue, you will be billed for their replacement and will be unable to borrow or renew items until the overdue items are returned or paid for. (See Circulation Policies)
  • Community cards allow in-person borrowing of eligible MCLA library materials only and do not have the same privileges as MCLA or HELM cards. This is a pilot program and may be discontinued or changed in the future.

What is not available to community borrowers?

  • Community borrowers may not check out equipment such as laptops, chargers, etc., which are for MCLA student use only.
  • Because of vendor restrictions, remote access to MCLA's electronic library holdings (ebooks, databases, journals, etc.) is available only to current MCLA students, faculty, and staff.
  • Meeting rooms and group study spaces in Freel Library may only be reserved by MCLA students, faculty, and staff.

Accessing Library Collections and Services Without a Borrower Card

  • Guests are welcome to visit and use common areas in the library; to browse and read library collections on site; and to consult the library’s electronic resources on site.
  •  Those seeking to borrow materials from MCLA but ineligible for borrowing privileges are encouraged to contact their local library’s Interlibrary Loan department. Massachusetts residents may also be able to borrow MCLA materials via the Commonwealth Catalog

Computer Use, Internet Access, and Printing

  • MCLA's Information Technology department manages all campus computers, networks, and print systems, including those in the library, and is responsible for the policies governing their use.
  • Visitors who wish to use a library computer or access the campus wireless network must request a “guest log-in.” Please ask at the Circulation Desk.
  • Guest printing is available for a fee; guests must register with the print system and use a PayPal account. Please see IT's Guest Printing guidelines and contact the IT Help Desk with any questions. The North Adams Public Library also offers public printing.
  • No fax services are available at the library.

Library Laptop Borrowing Policy


  • Laptops (with their chargers) have a seven-day loan period and may be taken out of the library building.
  • A valid MCLA ID card is required to borrow a laptop.
  • You must read and sign the Laptop Lending Agreement the first time you borrow a laptop (and anytime this policy changes).
  • At the end of the seven-day loan period, you must bring the laptop back to the library in person.
  • If the laptop is returned on time and laptops are not in high demand, you may borrow the laptop for another seven days.
  • If laptops are in high demand, you may not re-check out the laptop until after a 24-hour wait period.
  • If a laptop still has not been returned 28 days after its due date, your account will be charged the replacement cost (fully refundable IF you return the undamaged laptop/charger before the library purchases a replacement). A hold will be placed on your student account until the laptop is returned or replacement charges are paid.


  • Laptops are set up to work on the MCLA network (on campus). If you plan to use the laptop off campus, you will need to use a special login and password, which will be provided when you borrow the laptop.
  • Do not save files to the laptop! All files are deleted when the laptop is shut down or rebooted. These files are unrecoverable. Always save your work to OneDrive or other cloud storage, or to removable media (such as a USB drive).
  • Borrowers are responsible for replacement costs for unreturned or damaged equipment. Current replacement costs are listed on the Laptop Lending Agreement. These amounts may be charged to your student account once the laptop is 28 days overdue. Charges are fully refundable upon the return of the undamaged laptop and charger if the library has not yet purchased a replacement..
  • Library laptops are intended for short-term use and are not a substitute for owning a laptop. If you do not own a laptop, or if yours is broken and you cannot afford to replace it, please check with Student Financial Services to see whether funding might be available.
  • See the Laptop Lending Agreement for additional terms and conditions.

Patron Behavior Expectations

Freel Library strives to create an environment where all patrons are welcomed, respected, and treated equitably. We ask that library patrons join us in this effort.  

Library patrons are expected to observe MCLA policies as well as state and federal laws and to behave in a way that maintains an environment conducive to work and study.  

  • Upper level: The upper level of the library is a designated quiet area. Please refrain from talking, keep noise to a minimum, and use headphones to listen to any audio. 
  • Main level/Learning Commons: Conversation and group work are permitted on the main level. Please keep volume and activity at a level that enables others to work and study productively in the library.  
  • Lower level: The Children's Room provides space for group work and socializing. The Lower Level Lounge offers soft seating, study tables, and IT computer workstations as well as a Media Nook with a TV and DVD player. The Language and Literature Room contains a few individual study tables. Expect conversation and ambient noise throughout the lower level.

Patrons who prefer a quieter study environment are encouraged to study upstairs. 

Library staff will speak with patrons whose behavior in a given study area is disrupting others’ ability to work. Library staff reserve the right to determine what constitutes disruptive behavior. Patrons unwilling or unable to observe these policies may be asked to leave the building.  

Food and drink are permitted in the library. Please respect custodial and library staff, as well as other library patrons, by cleaning up after yourself and promptly alerting library staff of any spills.  

Please approach any member of the library staff if violations of these policies are affecting your ability to use and enjoy library spaces, collections, or services. 

Questions and comments about these policies may be directed to the Associate Dean for Library Services. 

See also the following MCLA Policies:

Group Study Room Policies

Three study rooms are available for student use in Freel Library. These rooms are intended to support collaborative projects and assignments. While other uses are permitted, those who are working together on a group project may receive priority. 


  • Only MCLA students may reserve group study rooms.
  • Individuals may reserve rooms for a maximum of 2 hours per day.
  • Rooms may be reserved using the online Group Study Room Reservation Form or in person at the library service desk.
  • Reservations must be for groups of 2 or more people. (*In exceptional cases, individuals may be permitted to reserve rooms; please contact the Associate Dean of Library Services to discuss your needs.)
  • Anyone (groups or individuals) is welcome to use a vacant room, but people who are using a room without a reservation will be asked to move to accommodate students who have a reservation.
  • If you need to cancel your reservation, please contact the library as soon as possible. Missing more than one reservation without notifying the library ahead of time may affect your ability to reserve rooms in the future.
  • If at least two members of a group have not shown up within 15 minutes of the reservation time, the reservation will be canceled.
  • Rooms are not soundproof! Please be mindful of your group’s volume.
  • Rooms should be left clean. Please remove any trash, erase whiteboards, and put furniture back in its original configuration.

About the rooms: 

All rooms have whiteboards and markers. 

  • Room 1 has lounge-style soft chairs and a table. 
  • Room 2 has a work table and chairs 
  • Room 3 has a collaborative D-shaped table, chairs, and large monitor with an HDMI hookup

Gift Policy

Freel Library welcomes donations of academic books and other materials that will add to the scope, depth, and relevance of our collection.  Gifts have enabled us to enrich teaching, learning, and the student experience at MCLA.  

We evaluate donations similarly to new purchases: items must be relevant to the MCLA curriculum, in good condition, appropriate for academic research, up-to-date in content and format, fit within available library shelf space, and not duplicate existing titles. Librarians responsible for collection development will make the final determination of whether items are appropriate for the collection.

Generally, we do not accept journal or magazine issues, older editions of textbooks, items in poor condition (e.g., highlighted, underlined, torn or yellowed pages, etc.), media in formats not currently supported by the library (e.g., LP, cassette, VHS), and copies of videos or television programs that do not comply with copyright law.

Procedures for Donors:

  • If you are interested in donating materials, please contact Emily Alling, Associate Dean of Library Services, at 413-662-5322 or Emily.Alling@mcla.edu.
  • For donations of over 10 items, the library requests a list of titles beforehand that includes the author, date, and edition.   
  • If the donor cannot supply a list of titles beforehand and makes an arrangement to drop books off at the library, the library will determine whether it will use specific titles in the collection or dispose of the books.
  • We cannot guarantee that books that are dropped off and not formally accepted will be added to the catalog or guarantee that added books will remain in the collection.
  • If Freel Library keeps a book we cannot add to our collection, we will dispose of the book in the manner we think most appropriate.  Options include
    • Placing the book in our book sale
    • Donating the book to another library
    • Discarding the book if not appropriate, not sold, or in poor condition
  • Donors are requested to sign a Gift Form at the Circulation Desk when they drop off books or other items.

Appraisals & Acknowledgements:

  • Due to federal tax regulations, Freel Library does not appraise donations.
  • If you require a formal valuation of your materials, please have your materials appraised before you make your donation.
  • Donors will receive acknowledgement of their gifts by mail from the MCLA Foundation.  This statement will include the number and type of items added to the collection or accepted by the library, and not any books that were discarded.  Donors can then provide a value to the gift if needed.

Thank you for considering donating your materials to Freel Library.

Interlibrary Loan

Who may request items via interlibrary loan?

Current MCLA faculty, students, and staff and emeritus faculty may request items via MCLA’s interlibrary loan service. Others are encouraged to consult their public library or home institution.

Requests from patrons who have overdue interlibrary loans will not be placed until outstanding items are returned or a renewal is requested/granted by the lending library.

What may/may not be requested via interlibrary loan?

MCLA will request loans of books, DVDs, microforms, and other materials, as well as PDFs of articles and book chapters, that are not available via our own library.  

Some items tend not to be available via ILL. These include:

  • Ebooks
  • Streaming video
  • Textbooks  
  • PDFs of more than one chapter (or 10%) of a book
  • Entire volumes or issues of periodicals

Other items tend to be difficult to obtain via ILL, but we will try. These include:

  • Dissertations/theses
  • New popular fiction and nonfiction
  • DVDs – if needed for a class, please request well in advance and let us know when you plan to show the film

Do I have to pay for interlibrary loan?

The library is almost always able to obtain interlibrary loans at no cost to you. In the rare case that we cannot, we will contact you to discuss alternatives.

How long does it take for items requested via interlibrary loan to arrive?

It depends! In general, books/DVDs take 1-2 weeks to arrive, while articles usually take 1-3 days. However, requests may take longer. If there is a date beyond which the item would no longer be useful for you, you can enter a “Not Needed After” date in the ILL request form. To check on the status of your request, please email ill@mcla.edu.

How will I know when my interlibrary loan arrives?

For books/DVDs: you’ll receive an email letting you know that your items are ready to pick up at Freel Library. (Any items not picked up by their due dates will be returned to their home libraries.)

For PDFs of articles/chapters: You will receive an email with instructions for downloading the PDF, which is yours to keep.

How long can I keep my interlibrary loans?

Loan periods for physical items (books, DVDs) are set by the lending library. Most interlibrary loans are for short-term use (2-4 weeks). In rare cases, a lending library might recall a book, which would shorten the original loan period. PDFs of articles and book chapters are yours to keep.

Can I renew my interlibrary loan?

Maybe! Email ill@mcla.edu to request a renewal. We will contact the lending library and let you know whether they agree to a renewal and, if so, what the new due date is.

How many interlibrary loans may I request?

Depending on overall request volume and staff capacity, the library may limit patrons to five active requests at any given time.  

What if I am late returning an interlibrary loan?

Please try not to be! It is important to respect other libraries’ due dates and policies in order to maintain good relations with our peer institutions who are generous enough to share their collections with us.  

  • As long as your interlibrary loan is overdue, you cannot place additional requests.  
  • The lending library may or may not permit items to be renewed; please contact the MCLA Library (ill@mcla.edu) if you are interested in requesting a renewal.  
  • Any late fees or replacement charges are determined solely by the lending library and will be transmitted to you.  

How can I check on the status of my interlibrary loan?

Contact the MCLA Library, or stop by during regular business hours. New for Fall 2023: If you currently have items borrowed from other libraries via ILL, they will appear, along with any items borrowed from MCLA, HELM, and/or ComCat, in your MCLA library record, which you can view by logging in to the library catalog.

What if the library is unable to obtain the item I need?

If we’re unable to fill your request, we will contact you and try to brainstorm other ways for you to get access to the item.  

I am far away from campus. Can the library mail me books that I request via interlibrary loan?

In general, books requested via ILL from other libraries must be picked up in person at Freel Library. MCLA librarians can work with you to explore other strategies for getting access to books that you need if you are not able to come to campus. Exceptions may be made for faculty on sabbatical as long as they can realistically return books to Freel Library by their due dates.

(PDFs of articles and book chapters requested via interlibrary loan are delivered to your MCLA email address, so you can request and receive these wherever you are.)  

I have more questions!

Please email ill@mcla.edu, stop by during regular business hours, or contact the library using any of the options on our Ask Us page.