Your Idea Exchange membership card gives you access to a wide range of materials including thousands of books, eBooks, DVDs and CDs, as well as electronic devices, board games and puzzles, musical instruments, book club sets, and more.
Most borrowed items can be returned to any of the following Idea Exchange locations:
- Clemens Mill
- Queen’s Square
These locations have exterior drop boxes that are open 24 hours per day. There is no after-hours drop box at the Old Post Office, so returns can only be accepted when the building is open.
Some items must be returned in-person to a staff member due to their size and nature, such as book club sets, electronic devices, and musical instruments. Other items, such as garden tools and sports equipment, must be returned to the location from which you borrowed them.
Loan periods vary based on the type of item you are borrowing. Receipts listing the due date are offered at checkout and due dates can be viewed by signing into My Account.
|Books and Magazines
|CDs and Vinyl Records
|Audiobooks and Playaways
|DVDs (20 item limit)
|Video Games (2 item limit)
|Park and Museum Passes
|Board Games (2 item limit)
|Sports and Recreation Equipment
|Book Club Kits (2 item limit)
- Up to 2 renewals are permitted on items which allow renewals as long as the item is not on hold for another member.
- The displayed borrowing periods are for Adult Memberships at Idea Exchange. There are additional restrictions placed with some other membership types, such as Juvenile Cards, Temporary Cards or Online Membership.
- Tools, Active Living collection items and other select items in the Unusual Things collections must be picked up and returned to their home library locations, as listed on the item record before borrowing. Please look at the notes on the item record in the Idea Exchange catalogue for more details about what options are available for Unusual Items.
Many items are eligible for an extended loan of up to 9 weeks for members who are going on vacation, or completing a school assignment. Speak to a staff member at checkout to request a due-date extension.
Materials must be more than one year old, with no waiting list, and are limited to:
- Adult and children's fiction and non-fiction books
- Books accompanied by CD (language materials, CD Book Kits, etc.)
- Adult and children's Books on CD
- Puzzles and games
If you have selected email notification of holds and overdue materials, we will also send you a courtesy email reminder 3 days before materials are due. You are still responsible for returning or renewing items before the due date.
- My Account
Review your checked-out items, holds status and more by logging into My Account with your name, membership card number, and four-digit PIN.
Keep a record of items borrowed by enabling Borrowing History in the My Settings menu.
All library materials that you sign out after you enable this option will appear on the Borrowing History screen.
Move your Borrowing History onto your Shelves to sort through it using a range of search filters on the side menu, including categories such as Author, Format, Genre and Content.
If you wish to opt out of Borrowing History, you must disable it in the My Setting menu. Please note: disabling Borrowing History will permanently delete any records of checked-out items stored in Borrowing History.
My Collections area lets you keep track of everything you find interesting in our catalogue in curated lists and to sort the items from your Borrowing History into Shelves such as Completed, In Progress or For Later . Save titles to your lists any time you are logged in. Then at a later date, you can check out the titles or place them on hold.
To save a title to your Shelf, click on the button under the title's Hold button that says For Later to move it to your For Later shelf. You can click the drop-down arrow at the side of the button to select another Shelf to add the item to as well, such as Completed or In Progress.
It is also possible to move titles from your Borrowing History to a Shelf to make them easier to sort and filter. Check the boxes beside the items in your Borrowing History you would like to move to a Shelf. Click the purple Manage Items button at the bottom of your screen and select the Shelves where you want the items to be stored.
You can also add items to My Lists. These are special lists you can keep for personal use, share with a community of other library members, or follow from others who are sharing their favourites.
Go to the My Lists area and select the Create a New List to build your list. A simple webform will help you describe your list idea, then you can use the Add to List button to select new titles for your list. When publishing a list, you have a wide range of options about whether to keep your list private to just your account or make it public and to select with whom you wish to share it.
- How to Renew Items
You can renew items online through My Account, by calling a location, in-person at one of our self-checks, or with help from a staff member. Alternatively, you can call our automated telephone system at 519-740-3000.
Some items are not eligible for renewal. These include:
- Items that have already been renewed twice
- Billed items
- Rapid Reads, Book Club Sets, Park Passes and STEAMboxes
Interlibrary loans can be renewed only once.
- Fees and Charges
Membership at Idea Exchange is always free. There is no cost to register for a membership card or to borrow items.
As of July 5, 2021, Idea Exchange has permanently eliminated all overdue fines on late materials and removed all existing overdue fines. Members will no longer be charged a daily overdue fine when materials are returned late, but you are still responsible for returning materials on time so others may enjoy them.
Lost or damaged items
Idea Exchange will continue to charge replacement and processing fees for items that have not been returned 27 days past their due date. Replacement and processing fees are also applied to items that are returned damaged.
Members will not be able to continue borrowing items if they have been charged for replacement or damaged items. However, if the items are brought back to Idea Exchange, the charges are removed from the suspended account and you are free to borrow again.
How to pay for lost or damaged items
You can pay replacement charges in person at any of our locations where we accept cash, cheques, and debit or credit cards.
You can also pay by phone using Visa or MasterCard, or by sending a cheque in the mail. Please make cheques payable to “Cambridge Public Library”.
What happens if I don’t pay for a lost item?
Idea Exchange uses a collection agency (for members 18 years of age and older) to assist in the timely retrieval of materials,ensuring fair access to all members.
If you have outstanding materials totaling $100 or more, your account will be referred to the collection agency 56 days after the date the materials were due. Any further notification regarding your fines will come from the collection agency. A $6.00 administrative fee will be added to your account.
If materials have not been returned or the account paid in full, the account will be listed with the credit reporting agency after 71 days.
If you have questions about your fees or are concerned that your outstanding fees are affecting your ability to use your membership, please come in and see us or give us a call. We’re here to help.
Is the item you want not available, or available at another Idea Exchange location? You can place a hold to have it sent to any location, except for Old Post Office.
Search the online catalogue for your item, and select Place Hold. When prompted, enter your card number, your four-digit PIN, and select your location for pickup.
You can also enable Single-Click Holds for your account, where your items will always be sent to a preferred Idea Exchange location when you place a hold while logged in. To select this option, go to My Settings and select the Holds and Pick-up Location area to select your preferred location and enable Single-Click Holds.
Alternatively, you can email, phone, or chat with us to place the hold for you.
We will notify you either by phone, mail, or by email when the item is ready for pickup and will hold the item for five (5) days.
You can temporarily pause a hold and keep your place in the hold list when you are going away or otherwise unable to pick it up. Here’s how:
In your online account in the On Hold area, check the box beside your hold and click the Pause Hold button.
To activate your hold again, go to the Paused section of your On Hold area. Check the box beside the hold you wish to activate again and click the Resume Hold button. The hold will return to your active holds.
Items that are Available or Ready for Pickup cannot be put on Pause Hold.
- Interlibrary Loans
If we don’t have the item you’re looking for, our Interlibrary Loan department (also known as ILLO) may be able to help by borrowing it from another library outside of Cambridge.
We make every effort to fill your request at no cost to you. Occasionally, the only source is a university library, and these libraries charge us to borrow their materials. We will let you know if there will be a charge for your book, and you can decide what to do.
You can make a request online for an Interlibrary Loan item, or talk to a friendly staff member at any of our locations to get the process started.
Only three (3) requests are permitted per member at any one time.
Types of ILLO requests
- Books or audiobooks that are two or more years old
- Books in a variety of language, including French, Chinese, German, Portuguese, Italian, or Gujarati
- If you have trouble reading print because of a visual, physical, or learning disability, we can help you borrow accessible resources from the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA). A Talking Book Service membership is required. To learn more about our Talking Book Service or CELA, please visit our Accessibility page.
- Visiting Library Service
The Visiting Library Service partners a trained volunteer with a client who is homebound due to age or illness. Our friendly volunteers deliver library materials, enjoy a chat about the books, and connect with clients, who often become friends during their monthly visits.
To learn more about whether this program is right for you, or to offer to volunteer, please contact the Idea Exchange Coordinator of Volunteer Services or call 519-621-0460 x127.