Virtual Lending Library

Welcome to Gaia Community's Virtual Lending Library!

This program connects Gaia members' personal libraries so that we can all benefit from each others' collections. It also improves the accessibility and visibility of Gaia's physical library. Below, you'll find the procedures for Lending and Borrowing, as well as for the actual exchange of books. This program is a member benefit.

Gaia Community also has a physical library of books that belong to the community itself. These books reside in the librarian's home until Gaia finds a permanent home. However, we are hoping to expand the variety of books available in our library, so if you have books that you'd like to donate, please contact the librarians, Aubry and Amanda. Gift-in-kind forms are available for tax purposes.

We use LibraryThing to catalogue our virtual lending library. Here's a sample:

Lending Library Terms and Conditions

Virtual Lending Library
Terms & Conditions

Description of the Service:

This service allows Gaia Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation (GC) members to lend and borrow books from each other and from Gaia Community itself. There is no affiliation between Gaia Community and LibraryThing, nor between the Librarian and LibraryThing. Nothing in these Terms & Conditions is intended to abridge any rights or responsibilities afforded by other laws and ordinances.

Lenders and borrowers must be members of GC; the Librarian is considered the lender for books owned by the community. Minors may participate through their parents, if the parents are members. Associate members shall be accorded the privileges and responsibilities of an adult member for the purposes of this program.


Participation in the Virtual Lending Library (VLL) is voluntary and at-will. Borrowers who wish to discontinue participation in the program must first return all borrowed materials and resolve any outstanding late fees.

Borrowers are limited to three books checked out at a time. Children of Borrowers may also each have two books checked out at a time. All books that are checked out will have a due date, communicated to the borrower at the time it is lent. Borrowers are responsible for returning books when they are due; fees of $1.00/week will be assessed for late returns. Late fees will be paid to GC to reimburse LibraryThing expenses and to build a library of community-owned books. These fees are not paid to Lenders.

Borrowers participate at their own risk. Neither the Librarian nor GC shall be held liable for books lost or destroyed. Borrowers are responsible for reimbursing the lender or replacing the item. The Librarian is available to assist in negotiations and will enforce this rule.

Borrowers may be asked to return books early, known as a recall. Reasons for a recall include a Lender leaving the VLL, or if a ritualist or committee member requests the book for official GC business. Recalled books should be returned within a week.

Borrowers agree to abide by LibraryThing's Terms of Use while using the site.

Ritual Teams and Committees:

By notifying the Librarian, and with the agreement of the Lender, books may be checked out to ritualists and committee members for GC business for up to ten weeks. Ritualists and committee members may also request a recall of a checked out book if it is needed for official purposes. With respect to this program, members participating in the Excellence in Ritual class or internship shall be considered a ritualist.

If a committee finds that they cannot function on a regular basis without a particular book, they should contact the Librarian.


Participation by individuals in the Virtual Lending Library (VLL) is voluntary and at-will. Lenders agree to offer only books that are their own property. Lenders who wish to remove books from circulation should contact the Librarian. The Librarian will comply with the request within 14 days and will contact the Lender when completed. If books that a Lender wishes to remove from the program are checked out, the Librarian will recall them.

Lenders participate at their own risk. Neither the Librarian nor Gaia Community shall be held liable for books lost or destroyed. The Librarian will assist in negotiations between the Lender and Borrower to replace lost or destroyed items or reimburse the cost of a lost or destroyed book. Late fees will be paid to Gaia Community to reimburse LibraryThing expenses and to build a library of community-owned books; these fees are not paid to Lenders.

All books that are to be checked out will have a due date, which will be communicated to the Borrower by the Librarian. Lenders may be asked to agree to extended checkout times for ritualists and committee members; they are not required to comply with these requests. Rare, valuable, or out-of-print books may be made available for reference purposes only, instead of placed into circulation; contact the Librarian directly to use this option.

Lenders who choose to open their own LibraryThing account agree to abide by that site's Terms of Use as well.

Limitations on Use:

Nonpayment of late fees, repeated loss of books, or other non-compliance with the Terms & Conditions of the program may result in suspension or revocation of VLL privileges. Any such suspension or revocation will be communicated to the member in writing (electronic or otherwise) beforehand. Children of Borrowers who are suspended or banned from the program may also cause their parents to be suspended or banned, based on the judgment of the Librarian.

Nonpayment of late fees shall be defined as having an outstanding balance of $8.00 or more. Until all fees are paid, that Borrower may not check out new books or negotiate longer checkout periods.

The Librarian shall be empowered to suspend privileges for definite periods, not to exceed eight weeks. If the Librarian determines that a member should be suspended for a longer period or banned from the program, the Librarian shall bring the issue before the Committee of the Whole at a regularly scheduled Ritual for Business. The member in question will be informed of this, and encouraged to attend that Ritual for Business.

If a Borrower or Lender disagrees with the Librarian or these Terms & Conditions, the issue should be brought to the Librarian, the Ombudsman of the community, or a regularly scheduled Ritual for Business.


Gaia Community may at any time revise these Terms & Conditions by updating this document. By using the VLL, you agree to be bound by any such revisions and should therefore visit this page periodically. Last revised on August 8, 2008.

Lender Information

Virtual Lending Library
Lender Information

Method One: For Existing LibraryThing Users

If you already have an account with LibraryThing, just temporarily tag the books that you would like to be available with "GCVLL" and then fill out the form below to let the Librarian know what your account name is.

A CueCat scannerIf you would like to use this option and don't already have an account, getting one is easy. Putting up to 200 books into LibraryThing is free; after that it is $15/year. After you've set up an account at LT, enter the books you want to make available (at least) and tag them "GCVLL". Then fill out the form below. Even if you start with just the Gaia books, we think you'll quickly find that LT is a lot of fun and will want to catalogue all your books. The Librarian has a CueCat (a handheld barcode scanner) that you may borrow to make this process faster. The waiting list for the CueCat is here. Training in using LT is also available.

Method Two: For Low-Tech Users

Make a list of the books you'd like to make available to the VLL. The ISBN of the book is preferred but if you can't find it, the author, title, and year of printing are fine. Fill out the form at the bottom of this page; use the text box to send the list. If it's long, you can email it to

Finding ISBNsExample ISBN/barcode

ISBNs are 10 or 13 digits. The newest books are 13 digits and most start with 978. Most modern books have the ISBN printed on the back cover above a barcode. On older books, try the copyright page. Some hardcovers may have the barcode and ISBN on the inside of the book jacket. Old paperbacks sometimes have an ISBN on the spine or in small print on the front cover. Watch out! If you are trying to get the ISBN from the numbers under a barcode, look to the side. If it says EAN, you're good but otherwise that's probably the UPC, which may not work in LibraryThing.

Reference Books

If you have books that Gaia members may find useful but you are hesitant to lend out — for example, the book is rare or out-of-print — please consider also tagging or listing them "reference". This will be a signal that a Borrower may make arrangements to look at the book with you (or possibly the Librarian) present, but may not take it from your home.

Lender's Form


Borrower Information

Virtual Lending Library
Borrower Information

Borrowing a book through the VLL is easy!

Step One: Find a Book.

Go to Gaia Community's LibraryThing account. You can sort by author or a subject tag, or you can use the search box to the right. Browse for a book you've been interested in, or anything that catches your eye!

Step Two: Request a Book.

Remember that you're limited to three (two for minors that aren't associate members). Fill out the form below and the Librarian will contact you soon!

Borrower's Form

Minor Borrower's Form (to be filled out by PARENT)

What Happens Next?

If you haven't done this before, you may wish to view our explanation of the actual procedures for getting and returning the borrowed items.

Book Exchange Information

Virtual Lending LibraryExchange Procedure
How We Get from 'Virtual' to 'Real' Lending!

When a member requests to borrow a book, the librarian receives an email alert. What follows are the steps in the actual exchange:

  1. The librarian locates the book in the LibraryThing catalog, and confirms the availability of at least one copy.
  2. The librarian enters the book, borrower, lender and date into the Checked Out Books List (an offline backup record). The book is also immediately tagged in LibraryThing as being checked out, to prevent duplicate requests.
  3. The librarian contacts the lender by e-mail to notify them of the request. The e-mail includes the name of the borrower, and asks them to meet the borrower within a week's time. The proposed due date of the book (usually three weeks from the coming Sunday) is also in this email.
  4. The librarian then contacts the borrower to notify them of the lender they will be exchanging with.
  5. The lender and the borrower work out how to exchange the book. The librarian is available to assist with this transaction, but involving other parties is discouraged as it invites confusion and reduces accountability if something should happen to the book en route.
  6. When the book exchanges hands, the lender places a slip of paper in the book that identifies them as the owner and repeats the due date. These slips can be handmade or printed from this website, but there will also be printed slips available on Sundays.
  7. After the exchange, the lender and borrower should each contact the librarian separately (preferrably through email) as verification that the exchange took place.
  8. When the due date is one week out, the borrower is sent a remainder email by the librarian. A second one goes out the Friday before the due date.
  9. The lender and the borrower work out when to return the book. The librarian is available to assist with this transaction, but involving other parties is discouraged as it invites confusion and reduces accountability if something should happen to the book en route.
  10. After the book is returned, the lender should contact the librarian as verification that the book was returned in acceptable condition.
  11. If the due date has passed, the librarian will begin to note late fees. Once the book is returned, the librarian will notify the borrower of the amount due in late fees. This amount should be paid as soon as possible, to avoid suspension of privileges.

In effect, the exchange is much like two friends who borrow each other's books, with additional accountability. This system helps keep track of borrowed books and it also involves a neutral party, the librarian, who can facilitate the return of borrowed items in a timely manner. If you have questions or ways in which you think this process can be improved, please contact Aubry or Amanda, the Librarians, at!