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MeLCat FAQ

This FAQ is intended for patrons and includes general information on how to search and place requests for materials from MeLCat. If you have further questions about MeLCat, contact your library. Library staff from participating MeLCat libraries can find MeLCat help information on the Library Staff page.


  1. What is MeLCat?

    MeLCat is an online catalog service that allows patrons of participating libraries to borrow materials - books, movies, music, and more - from all over Michigan and have them delivered to their home library.

  2. Who participates on MeLCat?

    Libraries all over Michigan participate in MeLCat. To see if your library participates in MeLCat, check the Participating Libraries page. If your library is not listed, contact your library to see if they expect to participate in the future. If your library does not participate in MeLCat and you would like to borrow an item you find in MeLCat, contact your library for other options. If you plan to visit a library to use the item there, contact that library for hours and policies before you go.

  3. What is Visiting Patron?

    If your library participates in the MeLCat Visiting Patron Service, you may go to another library that also participates in this service and check out available eligible materials in person. To see if your library participates in the Visiting Patron service, check the Participating Libraries page. When you bring the materials to their check-out desk, they will use your home library card to check them out to you. Be sure to have a picture ID with you, as well as your library card.

    These materials will be listed in your MyMeLCat account for you to check on the due dates and request renewals. You may return those items to either your home library or the library from which you checked them out.

  4. How do I request materials from MeLCat?

    You may place a request from a search results list or from an individual record display. Simply click on the Get This For Me! or Get this from MeLCat button or link. The system will present you with a list of participating libraries; select your home library. Enter your name and your library card/account number. (Some libraries will also require you to enter your PIN number.) If your library offers multiple pickup locations, you will also need to select one from the list. Click on Submit and the request is placed!

    Materials with a status of Available or Status Unknown at your home library will not be requestable through MeLCat.

    Please note that not all materials included in MeLCat are requestable. Each participating library decides which of its materials it will loan via MeLCat. If the material you want is not requestable, you may be able to use the material by visiting the library in person. Be sure to check with that library beforehand to be certain that the material you want will be available.

  5. Can I request multiple books at one time?

    No. Materials on MeLCat must be requested one at a time.

  6. Can I request eBooks from MeLCat?

    eBooks that appear in MeLCat may only be accessible to patrons of that particular participating MeLCat library. The MeL eBooks can be found on the MeL eResources page.

  7. How do I know when my MeLCat items are due?

    To check the due date of your materials, go to the MyMeLCat page, then select your library from the list of participating libraries and enter in the required information. From your record, you can check the status of your requests, cancel requests, and renew MeLCat materials. If you have any questions about your MeLCat items, contact your library.

  8. How do I renew materials I've borrowed through MeLCat?

    To renew materials, go to the MyMeLCat page, then select your library from the list of participating libraries and enter in the required information. From your record, you can check the status of your requests, cancel requests, and renew MeLCat materials. Not all materials can be renewed. Only one renewal is allowed and renewals will not be granted until seven days before the due date. Overdue MeLCat materials cannot be renewed via MyMeLCat.

  9. Why can't I borrow audio-visual (AV) items, such as DVDs, audiobooks, or music CDs on MeLCat?

    If you are attempting to borrow audio-visual (AV) materials such as audiobooks or DVDs, you may receive the error message "Sorry, MeLCat policy does not allow your request. Please contact your home library for assistance." Participating libraries that wish to borrow AV materials must make some portion of their locally circulating AV collection available. If your library does not lend AV, you may not be able to borrow AV materials.

    To see if your library allows for the borrowing of for AV materials, check the Participating Libraries page. Contact your library with any questions about the choice your library has made regarding AV lending/borrowing via MeLCat.

  10. I got an error message when trying to request on MeLCat. What does it mean?

    If you run into any issues requesting on MeLCat, contact your library. Examples of error messages are below.

    Message: Sorry, MeLCat policy does not allow your request. Please contact your home library for assistance.

    The only libraries with available copies are not live for lending at this time or have local holds on those available items. It could also be that the patron category assigned to your record does not allow the request.

    Message: Sorry, there is a problem with your patron record at your home library. Please contact your home library to resolve this problem.

    There may be a problem with your record.

    Message: Sorry, you cannot use MeLCat to request items that are available at your home library.

    MeLCat knows that your local library already owns this item and that it is not checked out. MeLCat policy only permits borrowing of materials not available at your local library.

    Message: Sorry, your ID number is not valid for MeLCat requesting. Please try again or contact your home library to resolve this problem.

    The number you entered to identify yourself was not found in the library's database. You may have chosen the wrong library from the list or mistyped your barcode/library card number. Click on Regular Display to go back to the record and click Get this for me! again. Then, try retyping your patron number.

    Sorry, your MeLCat request cannot be processed. Data in your patron record at your home library is incomplete. Please contact your home library to resolve this problem.

    The number you entered to identify yourself was not found in the library's database. You may have chosen the wrong library from the list or mistyped your barcode/library card number. Click on Regular Display to go back to the record and click Get this for me! again. Then, try retyping your patron number.

    Message: Unable to place your request. Please try again or contact your library for assistance.

    There may be a problem with your local system's connectivity to MeLCat.

    Message: Your patron id has been blocked

    Your account is blocked on your local system.

  11. How many requests can I have for MeLCat materials?

    Eligible patrons will be allowed to have up to 50 active MeLCat requests at a time. MeLCat requests are active from the time they are made until the requested items have been returned to the lending libraries or until they are canceled.

  12. How do I search for materials on MeLCat?

    You can search for materials on MeLCat using Encore MeLCat or Classic MeLCat.

    • MeLCat is not case-sensitive. (E.g., a search for "South Africa" is the same as a search for "south africa".)
    • You can omit most punctuation. (E.g., a search for "earths children" is the same as a search for "earth's children".)
    • Numbers may need to be spelled out.
    • In Classic MeLCat, if you are unsuccessful using the phrase searches (title, author, series title, the various types of subject searches), try entering your terms as a keyword search.
    • Each participating MeLCat library has a unique agency code. If you would like to find the holdings of a specific MeLCat library, include that library's agency code in a keyword search, (E.g., "Michigan zv100".) Note that MeLCat may not reflect a library's full holdings.

  13. How do I find materials in large print, various audio-visual (AV) formats, and Braille?

    MeLCat libraries agree to make their circulating book collections available for loan; however, it is each library's decision whether or not to make special collections, including audio-visual (AV) collections like CDs and DVDs, available for MeLCat loan. Libraries are encouraged to be as generous as they can about lending their AV collections, but it is a local decision.

    A variety of strategies can be used to find materials in various AV formats and in large print. Note, though, that none of these methods will individually retrieve all such materials.

    • To find audiobooks or other sound recordings in MeLCat, Search Encore MeLCat for a title, author, or keyword and use the Format facet (under Refine by:) to select either Audiobooks or Music Recordings.
    • To find large print books in MeLCat, keyword search (large type books) or (large print) You can also add other words to the search: grisham large print.
    • To find DVDs in MeLCat, keyword search wrinkle in time dvd.
    • To find Braille materials in MeLCat, keyword search in the title field for the word Braille in Classic MeLCat.
    • Individuals who are blind or visually impaired may also be interested in digitally formatted books and/or Braille service. Digital books are available via download or they can be sent in cartridge format through the mail to the homes of eligible patrons. Braille is also available through the mail. This service is made possible through a statewide network of cooperating libraries, a part of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. These books are not in MeLCat. For more information, contact the Braille and Talking Book Library.

  14. How do I search in Encore MeLCat?

    Visit Encore MeLCat, and from there, you may enter in a subject, title, author, ISBN or keyword, anything at all, really. After a seach is completed, you can use the facets on the left hand side under Refine by: to further narrow down your search. Facets include:

    • Found in MeLCat
    • Format
    • Language
    • Subject
    • Location
    • Year Published

    Facets can be expanded by clicking on the '+' icon next to each facet. Once explanded, click on any of the terms to further narrow down your search.

    1. What if I get an error message while searching?

      If you run into any issues searching MeLCat, contact your library. Examples of error messages are below.

      No catalog results found. Did you mean: finland?

      Try confirming the spelling of your search words or using other words. You can also click on the Did you mean term to search that term instead.

    2. How do I save and email search results?

      Saving search results

      • Under Additional Actions: for each search result, click on the Add to my list icon to add the record to the list.
      • Click on My List in the upper right to view your list. Alternately, you can click on view my list after a record is added to your list.
      • Click on the checkbox next to the record and click on Remove from my list to remove a record from your list. Alternately, you can click on remove next to each record to remove it from your list.
      • Note: Records are only saved per session.

      Emailing search results

      • Under Additional Actions: for each record, click on the Email icon to email yourself a brief description of the item.

  15. How do I search in Classic MeLCat?

    Visit Classic MeLCat, and from there, you can select a search option from the drop-down and enter in your search terms.


    1. What if I get an error message while searching?
    2. If you run into any issues searching MeLCat, contact your library. Examples of error messages are below.

      Message: Your entry bysons would be here.

      The system was unable to find a record matching the information you entered. In an attempt to help you in identifying the cause of this lack of results, the system puts you in a browse screen where your entry would have appeared.

      Check to be sure you chose the correct index and entered in your entry correctly.

      Message: Tried (icelandic cooking) no records found. . .  Your search query has been changed. . . Tried: (icelandic and cooking) 1 result found.

      The system assumes that words entered into a keyword search should be treated as a phrase. In the event that it is unable to find any records with the phrase you entered, the system places the word "and" between each of the search terms you entered. If it is still unable to retrieve any records, it will automatically place an "or" between the search terms. Check to be sure you entered in your entry correctly.

      Message: Your entry falling liberty would be here -- Search as Words

      If a title search fails to retrieve any hits, the system offers the option to convert the search from a title search to a keyword search. Click on Search as Words to execute the search. You might also check to be sure you entered in your entry correctly.

    3. How do I save, export, and print search results?

      Save, export, and print search results

      • From the results list, use the checkboxes to select the records you would like to save.
      • Click Save Marked Records. You can also click on the Save All button to save all the records on the screen.
      • Click on View Saved to view saved records.
      • Using the radio buttons on the left side of the screen, choose your preferred format.
      • Using the radio buttons on the right side of the screen, choose the export destination.
      • Click Submit.
      • Note: Records are only saved per session.

      If you want to print your saved records, choose Screen under the Send List To column, click on Submit, then, use your browser's print option to print the file.

      Clear saved records

      • To clear all your saved records, click the Clear Saved Records button.
      • To clear selected saved records, click View Saved.
        • Use the checkboxes to select the records you no longer want to save.
        • Click Delete Selected.

  16. What is MyMeLCat?

    MyMeLCat will allow you to view your MeLCat record. To access it, go to the MyMeLCat page, then select your library from the list of participating libraries and enter in the required information. From your record, you can check the status of your requests, cancel requests, and renew MeLCat materials. Not all materials can be renewed. Overdue MeLCat materials cannot be renewed via MyMeLCat.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Additional funding is provided by the State of Michigan and the Library of Michigan Foundation.

Library of Michigan Institute of Museum and Library Services Michigan Department of Education