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Frequently Asked Questions on borrowing materials

Can I provide my own replacement copy?

No, customers must pay the replacement fee for lost or damaged items. The replacement fee is based on the actual price the Library paid for the item. Once you have paid for a lost or damaged item, OPL does not refund the replacement fee if you find the item later. You own the items upon payment.

Can I return items at any Ottawa Public Library branch?

Yes, library items may be returned using the external book drops (available at anytime) , to any open OPL branch during opening hours or to the Bookmobile.

Frequently Asked Questions about paying your fees online using SmartPay

What is SmartPay?

SmartPay is a secure online tool where customers can pay bills or fees to organizations or companies. SmartPay is the Ottawa Public Library’s (OPL) service provider that enables customers to pay their Library fees online (for amounts that are higher than $1.00).

How do I access SmartPay?

You can access SmartPay directly here.

You can also log in to My OPL using your Library card number and PIN and follow the link to SmartPay. Or you can follow the link to SmartPay either on the OPL homepage or in the OPL catalogue (Bibliocommons).

If I am already logged in to my OPL account, why do I have to log in again on the SmartPay page?

You need to log in to SmartPay separately because you are logging in to a secure site designed to protect your credit card information.

What methods of payment can I use?

You can pay by credit card only. You may use Visa, Mastercard or American Express. Debit cards are not accepted.

Can I only pay a portion of my fees?

You may choose to pay all or a portion of your fees at any given time unless your account includes long overdue items/fees that have been listed with the Library’s recovery agency. 

What if my account has long overdue items/fees?

Partial payments cannot be made on long overdue accounts that have been listed with the Library’s recovery agency. You may, however, pay these accounts in full by using SmartPay.

Can I still pay my fees online if my Library card has expired?

Yes.

Can I print a receipt of my transactions?

Yes.

Will OPL employees be able to verify that I’ve paid online?

Yes, your borrower record will indicate that a fee was paid using SmartPay.

I am not sure if I completed a transaction. How can I check?

Once you have logged in to SmartPay, go to the Transactions tab. Your past transactions will be listed. You can also click on the Pay Fees tab to see if you still owe fees.

How long will these archived transactions be available to me?

Your transaction history will remain available indefinitely.

How will I recognize these payments on my credit card statement?

They will appear as OPL/BPO Online.

Who has access to my credit card information?

You are the only one who has access to your credit card information. Credit card details are not stored and must be re-entered each time you login to pay a fee.

View the OPL’s privacy statement

Can I get a refund if I find and bring back the books I paid for?

No refunds are issued for fees or items that were paid for.

I cannot log in to the SmartPay site. What should I do?

Make sure you are using the correct number on your Library card and the right PIN. If you are sure you are using the right numbers but still cannot log in to the SmartPay site, please contact InfoService – 613-580-2940.

**For more information about SmartPay, go to www.comprisetechnologies.com**

How many times can I renew an item?

Items that previously had no renewal limits will now have a limit of five renewals. Other renewal limits remain unchanged. Please note that an item can only be renewed if there are no holds on the item. For customers’ convenience, eligible library items will be renewed automatically, when there are no holds on the items. You can also renew your items manually online prior to the due date. The automatic renewal feature cannot be turned off.

If I return my lost items after my account has been referred to a recovery agency, will I still have to pay the recovery agency referral fee?

Yes, once an account has been referred to a recovery agency, the $15 referral fee must still be paid to recover costs to OPL, even if the lost items are returned.

Is the fee structure reviewed at any time?

Yes, the fee structure is reviewed each year as part of the budget process.

Materials Recovery Model

As of January 1, 2021, OPL will no longer be charging late fees for items that are overdue or processing fees for lost items.

What are the charges for lost or damaged items?

You are responsible for items borrowed on your library card. If an item is lost or damaged, you will be charged the cost of the item. You are responsible for paying the replacement cost. Once you have paid for a lost or damaged item, OPL does not refund the replacement fee if you find the item later. You own the items upon payment.

Please note that OPL does not accept replacements for lost or damaged items because:

  1. OPL can purchase most library items at a discounted price, not the retail price. The customer would be charged the discounted price, which would make it more economical for them.
  2. In the past, many customers have purchased a book or item that was not the same version as the one lost or damaged. OPL would then need to purchase the replacement item anyway.
What are the loan periods and fees?

View the complete list of loan periods and fees.

What do I do if my library card is lost or stolen?

A library card is like a credit card. If it is lost or stolen, report it right away. Anything signed out on your card is your responsibility until the card is reported missing. Replacement cards cost $1. Please bring identification when you come to replace it.

What happens if I don't pay my fees?

  • An account is suspended after it reaches $25 in fees. Customers with suspended accounts cannot borrrow physical items from the Library until the fees are paid or the lost items are returned.
  • If you have outstanding fees totalling more than $50 for more than 90 days, your account will be referred to a recovery agency and a $15 referral fee will be added to your account.
  • OPL uses a recovery agency to assist in the timely retrieval of fees and materials to ensure fair access to all customers. Replacement fees are automatically removed from collection accounts if the items are returned to the library.
  • If your account has been referred to a recovery agency, your library privileges will be suspended until the account is fully paid. Please be aware that if the necessary payment or payment arrangement is not made 120 days after being sent to the recovery agency, the personal credit rating of adult cardholders will be affected.
  • Please visit any Ottawa Public Library branch or call 613-580-2940 for additional information.
What happens if I don’t return an item on time?

Items are considered lost:

  • 21 days after the due date (regular collection items)
  • 7 days after the due date (Express items).

Once an item is considered lost, a replacement fee equal to the cost of the item will be charged. If the lost item is returned and the replacement fee has not been paid, then the replacement fee will be cancelled. Once you have paid for a lost or damaged item, OPL does not refund the replacement fee if you find the item later. You own the items upon payment.

What happens if I return an item that is considered lost?

Once an item is considered lost, a replacement fee equal to the cost of the item will be charged. If the lost item is returned and the replacement fee has not been paid, then the replacement fee will be cancelled. Once you have paid for a lost or damaged item, OPL does not refund the replacement fee if you find the item later. You own the items upon payment.

What if a library item damages my equipment?

The Library is not responsible for damage caused by audio-visual materials borrowed from its collections. Borrowers use all audio-visual materials at their own risk and should use caution when playing such materials on their equipment.

When is an account suspended?

An account is suspended if it reaches $25 in fees. Customers with suspended accounts cannot borrow physical items from the Library until the fees are paid or the lost items are returned.

Why are items being automatically renewed? Can I still renew my own items?

For customers’ convenience, eligible library items will be renewed automatically, when there are no holds on the items. You can also renew your items manually online prior to the due date. The automatic renewal feature cannot be turned off.

Why are items I returned still showing on my account?

During busy times of the year and after statutory holidays, it can take up to three days to process the extra volume of returned items. These items are backdated to the day of return when they are checked in so that no overdue fines are charged if they are returned by the due date. If returned items remain on your record for more than three days, contact the branch where you returned the items.