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
  • Hespeler
  • Preston
  • 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

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.

Loan Periods for some commonly-borrowed items

Books, audiobooks, magazines, musical instruments, board games, and puzzles:
21 days

DVDs, music CDs, Rapid Reads, video games, park and museum passes:
7 days

Book club sets:
6 weeks

Extended Loans

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
  • Pedometers

Courtesy notices

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.

Reading History

Keep a record of items borrowed by opting in to My Reading History.

All library materials that you sign out after you click Opt In will appear on the My Reading History screen.

Sort your Reading History by Title or Author by clicking on the column heading.

If you wish to opt out of Reading History, you must first delete all the items and then click the Opt Out button.

My Lists

My Lists lets you keep track of everything you find interesting in our catalogue. 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 My Lists, click on the basket icon under additional actions.

Once added, the message "This item is in your bookcart" appears. You also have the option to remove it from your cart. Once you have finished adding items to your cart, select My Cart at the top right of the screen or View Cart in the grey box. This will bring you to the My Cart page.

Give your list a name (description is optional) and click on Create. The item will be added to your newly created list.

View your list(s) by signing into your account and selecting My Lists.

How to Renew Items

You can renew items online through My Account, by calling a location, or in-person at one of our self-checks or with 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 Hold this Title. Then, when prompted, enter your card number, your four-digit PIN, and select your location for pickup.

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.

Freezing holds

You can temporarily freeze a hold and keep your place in the hold list when you are going away or otherwise unable to pick up it up. Here’s how:

In your online account, check the box in the Freeze column beside your hold and click Update List. You'll be asked to confirm your request, and then you will be returned to your Holds page.To Unfreeze a hold, uncheck the box, click Update, and then confirm your selection.

Items that are Available or Ready for Pickup cannot be frozen.

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.

idea exchange logo

1 North Square, Cambridge, ON N1S 2K6
Phone: 519-621-0460

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