Circulation Policy

Eligible Borrowers

The facilities and collections of Preston Library are primarily intended for the use of VMI’s Corps of Cadets, faculty and staff, but visitors are welcome.

Circulation privileges are extended to the faculty and students of Washington and Lee University, Southern Virginia University, and other Virginia colleges, and to Rockbridge County residents. Those who live outside Rockbridge County are welcome to use library materials in the building; if they wish to borrow materials, they should make an Interlibrary Loan request through their local library.


Library Cards

VMI cadets, faculty, and staff use their VMI ID cards, which include preprinted barcodes on the back, to check out materials from Preston Library. All other borrowers use a library card issued upon completion of our application process.  Borrowers must use their VMI ID card or library card whenever they wish to check out materials.


Borrowing Materials

Library materials may be checked out at the Service Desk. Some items do not circulate – such as reference materials, microforms, rare, and archival materials -- and thus may not be checked out, but are available for use in the Library.


Loan Periods

Loan periods vary, depending on the category of patron and the type of material. Cadets and most other library patrons may borrow books, bound periodicals, and government publications for four weeks; New Books and recreational reading for two weeks; and CDs, videos, and DVDs for one week. Materials may be renewed in person, by phone, online, or by responding to an email notice.

Faculty of VMI, W&L, and SVU enjoy an extended loan period of an entire academic year for books and bound periodicals. These materials are due in mid-April each year. To ensure the integrity of our collections and the accuracy of our records, these materials must be physically returned to Preston Library once a year. Faculty loan periods are shorter for New Books and recreational reading (two weeks) and audiovisual materials (one week), but these materials may be renewed any time, in person, by phone, online, or by responding to an email notice.



Borrowers may renew materials in person; by calling the Service Desk at (540) 464-7129; by logging in to MyAccount; or by email to An item may not be renewed if another library patron has requested it. In April, when materials with the extended loan period are due, faculty members must have items in hand to renew them.


Overdue Materials

The Library sends an email courtesy notice the day before items are due. If the items are not returned, two overdue notices are then sent at weekly intervals. Four weeks after the materials were due, a bill is sent for the replacement cost of these lost items. The Library does not charge overdue fines, but if materials are consistently overdue and billed, a hold may be placed on the account, and / or borrowing privileges may be revoked.


Lost Materials

If a patron cannot locate or does not return an item checked out to him or her, a replacement fee is charged. Before cadets can register, graduate, transfer, or receive transcripts, they must settle and clear their library account. Failure to return materials or to pay their replacement costs after receipt of the final notice by faculty, staff, cadets, or other library patrons may also result in a referral of lost-material charges to collections – after which time these charges become nonrefundable even if the item(s) should later be returned -- and a suspension or revocation of library privileges until the account is cleared.


Course Reserves

Faculty may place materials on traditional or electronic reserves to make them available to students enrolled in a particular course. Materials placed on traditional reserves have restricted loan periods (for example, two hours, twenty-four hours, two days, five days, or ten days). Materials to be placed on electronic reserves will be accepted if the intended use qualifies as a fair use under U.S. copyright law. For further information, please visit our Course Reserves page here:

Library staff process Reserves requests as quickly as possible, but faculty should allow extra time at the beginning of each semester for reserves materials to be ready for checkout.


Study Carrels and Study Rooms

The Library’s Carrels and Rooms are not assigned and may be used on a daily first-come, first-served basis. Cadets should not leave books or personal items unattended in a carrel or room. Such items may be stored for short periods in the cubbies on each floor. Library personnel will remove all personal and Library materials from carrels and rooms at the end of each day.



The Library provides lockers on the 6th floor of the building. Cadets may check out lockers for one semester on a first-come, first-served basis.


Lost and Found

On a short-term basis, personal items left in the Library will be kept in the Service Desk’s Lost-and-Found bin; valuable items may be handed over to Post Police. Abandoned items will eventually be sent to the Lost-and-Found in the Barracks Guard Room.


Storage Cubbies

Personal items and books may be left for short periods in the open storage cubbies located on each floor of the building. 



Preston Library is a public building, and unfortunately some thefts do occur each year. Library patrons should not leave personal items, especially laptops and other valuables, unattended. Cadets may drop off their laptops or academic bags at the Service Desk for safekeeping for short periods.


Reshelving Carts

Reshelving carts are located throughout the Library building. Place on these carts any materials you might have used but do not intend to check out. Library team members will reshelve the materials.