Colorado Libraries Collaborate CSL News Resource Sharing

Colorado Libraries Collaborate (CLC) Celebrates 25 Years of Sharing

CLC Logo WhiteColorado Libraries Collaborate (CLC) has been Colorado’s reciprocal borrowing program since 1991. (You may know it by its older name, Colorado Library Card.) CLC allows patrons of member libraries to borrow directly from other member libraries. Most libraries already participate in the program and have their own established lending guidelines.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of CLC, a working group led by the Colorado State Library refreshed and streamlined the CLC program documentation. While the fundamentals of the program haven’t changed, we hope to bring greater awareness of the program to library staff and the wider Colorado community.

Please visit the new CLC website, where you will find:

Thank you for your continued support of CLC, a unique part of Colorado’s resource sharing ecosystem for 25 years.

Colorado Libraries Collaborate

CLC Program Guidelines

CLC Logo White


Colorado Libraries Collaborate (CLC) is a program that allows patrons of member libraries to borrow from any other member library. This reciprocal borrowing program gives patrons access to many more materials than are available from any one library.

How the Program Works

  1. The library signs up to participate as a CLC member and makes the program available to its patrons. (See CLC for Libraries for information on becoming a member.)
  2. The library educates its staff about the CLC program. (See CLC Marketing and Promotion for downloadable materials.)
  3. The library extends lending privileges to patrons of other CLC member libraries.
    • CLC Borrowers must pay local taxes that support a Colorado library or be a member of another CLC member library in order to receive CLC privileges at other participating libraries. Each CLC member library determines how to verify compliance.
    • CLC Borrowers will not be charged a non-resident fee when borrowing from a participating CLC library.

Borrowers’ Responsibilities

  • Meet the lending requirements of the library they wish to use.
  • Register and be in good standing at a library supported by their local taxes.
  • Be informed about and abide by the rules and policies of the CLC libraries they use.
  • Assume responsibility for all materials borrowed, including but not limited to payment for lost/damaged materials and overdue fines.
  • Return materials in a timely fashion according to the rules of the lending library.

See also: CLC for Borrowers

Steps for Library Implementation

  1. Submit a CLC Program Participation Agreement (either online or in paper) with the State Library. Each governing authority of a joint library must file a signed separate Agreement.
  2. Adopt a CLC policy that states the local library’s lending privileges for CLC Borrowers.
    • Participating libraries are encouraged to extend to CLC Borrowers the same lending privileges received by their primary clientele.
    • The CLC member library board may establish its own policies for extending lending privileges to CLC Borrowers. If a library of any type finds it necessary to put restrictions on the number and/or type of materials loaned to CLC Borrowers, participation with this kind of restriction is preferable to non-participation.
    • Sample CLC Policy
  3. Eliminate non-resident fees for authorized CLC Borrowers.
  4. Determine a process for issuing patron barcodes.
    • Some libraries may issue library cards to CLC Borrowers while others may issue barcodes that borrowers affix to their home library card.
  5. Make their CLC policy available on the library’s website.
  6. Educate library staff about the program.
  7. Publicize and promote the program among their community.

Examples of Library Operational Practices

Please note that these practices are examples only; member libraries determine their own local practices.

  • Home libraries may suspend borrowing privileges due to non-return of items or non-payment of fines at a lending library.
  • CLC Borrowers may be asked to sign a waiver allowing borrower information to be shared with other participating libraries.
  • Lending libraries may request to know from the home library additional information about the current status of the patron.
  • Home libraries may maintain and assist lending libraries in sharing current patron address and phone number in the retrieval of overdue materials or collection of fines/fees.


  • Participation by libraries in the CLC program is voluntary.
  • To be eligible for future grants that may be provided by the State Library from Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds, libraries primarily supported by public funding (51{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5} or more from tax funds) must be participating CLC members.
  • School libraries are encouraged to participate to the extent that local practices and district policies permit. Because publicly funded school libraries operate under special conditions—such as limited public access to the building and restrictions on the sharing of personally identifiable information (PII)—their participation in the CLC program may be as borrowing rather than lending institutions. This is still preferable to non-participation.
  • To be eligible for future grants that may be provided by the State Library from Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds, libraries primarily supported by private funding (51{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5} or more) are encouraged to be CLC members, offer ILL (Interlibrary Loan) at no charge to Colorado libraries, have a publicly searchable online catalog, and at least one of the following:
    • Provide walk-in building collection and reference use at no cost to Colorado residents;
    • Participate in publicly available access to digital collections (other than the library’s collection);
    • Accept direct patron referrals from other Colorado libraries at no cost to the patron.

State Library Responsibilities

  • Serve as advocate, promoter, and spokesperson for the program statewide.
  • Communicate program details and provide information about opting in/out to Colorado libraries on an annual basis.
  • Convene an advisory group to regularly review the program and suggest improvements.
  • Provide information and orientation to local library staff.

Colorado Library Consortium (CLiC) Responsibilities

  • Serve as advocate, promoter, and spokesperson for the program statewide.
  • Encourage libraries to participate in the program.
  • Provide information and orientation to local library staff.
Colorado Libraries Collaborate

CLC for Borrowers

CLC Logo WhiteColorado Libraries Collaborate (CLC) is a program that allows Colorado library cardholders to borrow materials from any participating library in the state. For example, if you have a library card from Durango Public Library you can visit the Fort Lewis College Library and check out materials.

The CLC program started because librarians in Colorado believe that residents should have the broadest possible access to library resources. Since it began in 1991, CLC has been adopted by all public libraries, the majority of school and academic libraries, and several special libraries and cultural heritage organizations. Check to see if a library participates in CLC.

How to use the CLC program

First, set up a CLC patron account at the library you wish to use. Check with the library about what you need to bring in order to set up your account; most require a library card from your home library and a driver’s license or state-issued ID. In the case of a minor, the signature of a parent or guardian may also be required.

After setting up your account, the library will either issue you one of its own library cards or put an additional barcode sticker on your home library card.

Checking Out and Returning Materials

The number of items you can borrow and the length of time you can use them will vary from library to library. You will need to follow the policies of the library you are borrowing from.

You may return materials to any CLC member library. However, since the items are still checked out to you until they reach their original library, you may wish to return items early to avoid overdue fines.

Late and Lost Materials

When you check out materials from a library, you agree to follow its policies. If you lose something, you will need to pay the library for replacement costs. If you return it late, you will be responsible for paying the borrowing library for any overdue fines that have accrued.

Downloadable eBooks, Audiobooks, and Online Databases

You should check with the borrowing library about whether you are allowed to download eBooks and audiobooks or use their online databases. Most libraries have vendor contracts that restrict who can use their online content. Typically, CLC borrowers are allowed to access online databases from library computers but not from outside the library.

Additional Information

CLC Member Libraries – View a list of participating public, school, academic, and special libraries.

CLC Program Guidelines – View the complete details of how the program works.




Colorado Libraries Collaborate

CLC Member Libraries

CLC Logo WhiteParticipation is the key to the continued success of CLC. Currently all public, most school districts, academic and a number of special libraries are CLC members.

Colorado Libraries Collaborate

CLC for Libraries

CLC Logo WhiteColorado’s libraries are part of a unique resource sharing ecosystem, one component of which is Colorado Libraries Collaborate (CLC). CLC is essentially an agreement among member libraries to allow their patrons to borrow from each other.

Started in 1991, CLC offers many benefits to patrons and member libraries:

  • Opens Colorado library doors to most Colorado residents;
  • Expands library services at no additional cost;
  • Provides free access to more resources than any single library can provide;
  • Supports literacy and reading;
  • Encourages every Colorado library to participate (including public, academic,
    school and special libraries);
  • Increases public awareness of libraries;
  • Provides opportunities for school and community partnerships;
  • Eases the strain on materials budgets;
  • Maintains lending library control;
  • Makes participating entity eligible to apply for Library Services and Technology
    Act (LSTA) funds.

Participation is key to the continued success of CLC. We encourage all libraries to become CLC members.

Program Guidelines

The fundamentals of CLC are unchanged since the program began in 1991. In 2016, a working group revised and simplified the language as part of an effort to refresh the program.

Here are some highlights of CLC that libraries should be aware of:

  • CLC Borrowers will not be charged a fee for using the CLC program.
  • Libraries have local authority over the lending privileges and onboarding process for CLC Borrowers. This means that each library determines:
    • the number and type of materials allowed for CLC Borrowers;
    • how to verify eligibility for the program;
    • whether to issue a new library card or attach a barcode to the Borrower’s home library card.
  • We strongly encourage all CLC member libraries to create a CLC Policy and make it available online.


Most libraries in Colorado are already CLC members. Libraries only need to apply one time, and there is no annual renewal.

To become a new member library, you will need to complete the following steps:

  1. Read the CLC Program Guidelines and
  2. Submit the CLC Program Participation Agreement in either the Online Version or Paper Version.

Libraries that wish to opt out of the CLC program should contact Amy Hitchner, Collaborative Programming Coordinator, by email at ahitchner@coloradovirtuallibrary.

Promoting CLC

In order to maximize the impact of the CLC program, it is important for libraries to promote it to their patrons. We have created marketing materials that libraries can use in print or online to promote the program. We also encourage libraries to make their CLC lending policies available online.

Colorado Libraries Collaborate

CLC Marketing and Promotion

CLC Logo WhiteWe encourage libraries to market the CLC program to their patrons in a variety of ways, which could include signage, bookmarks, flyers, website, and social media.

Promotional Materials

Libraries may use these materials to promote the CLC program to staff and patrons. The half-page flyer can be customized with your library’s logo.


Libraries may use the CLC logo in their own branded print or digital materials in order to promote the CLC program. Please do not change the color of the logo.