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Trace? Missing? Transit Hold? What you’ve always wanted to know about our catalog.


If you’ve ever searched the library catalog, the New York Public Library's online catalog, you’ve probably noticed books and other items listed with a status of “Trace”, “Missing” or something more mysterious. What do exactly do these terms mean?

Trace means that the last time that someone looked for an item, it wasn’t on the shelf. Most of the time, however, the item shows up within a few days…or it was there all along. So look for the item where it’s supposed to be. You’ll probably find it!

Missing items were listed as “Trace” for several months. These items are less likely to be on the shelf. These items are either badly mis-shelved or they went home with an unscrupulous soul.

Checked In books are supposed to be on the shelves. If you look on the shelf and you don’t find it, it’s probably just mis-shelved. Ask one of our librarians to place a hold on the item for you. It will probably turn up, although we can’t say exactly when.

A date (such as 13 Dec 2007) indicates when an item that has been borrowed is due. If you place a hold on a checked-out item, the person who has it out cannot renew it beyond the due date. (However, we cannot predict exactly when the item will be returned.)

Being Held / Transit Hold mean that the item is waiting for a library borrower to pick up her reserve item / is en route to the pick-up branch location.

Lost items are checked-out items that borrowers say have been lost. These items are usually not recovered. If you would like us to order additional copies of a title, please speak to a librarian in the collection or branch that originally owned the item.

Claimed returned are items that borrowers believe that they have returned, but the library has no record of the transaction. Borrowers have several months to wait for the item to turn up before the item is changed to Lost.

In Transit items are ones that have been returned to branches other than their home branch. The item should be back in about a week.

Shelving Cart means that the item was recently returned to its home branch or it is a new item that was just processed. These items are usually not accessible, but sometimes our handling happens faster than expected and the item may be at its shelf location.

On Order means that the item has been ordered and we are waiting to receive it from our distributor. This takes anywhere from a few weeks to several months, with 1-2 months being the average delivery time frame.

Coming Soon means that the item has been received by the library but it has to be processed. The item will most likely be on the shelf within 1 month.

Please speak to a librarian if you have any questions.


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

Hi, I lost a book I borrowed

Hi, I lost a book I borrowed . What should I do?
This post spoke to us! We plan to use you as a model, take a look at the terminology our patrons must decipher [We run Horizon.], and post a similar piece on our website. Please feel honored and not plagiarized!

fix the terminology - that's

fix the terminology - that's the real solution.

Other weird "hold" things

Hi! I've also seen these weird "hold" cases 1. Beyoncé "Dangerously in love" 10 of 25 holds Who doesn't love Beyoncé? (grin) But I was curious if this meant there were 25 physical copies of the CD in the library system, or if one copy was allowed to have 25 people waiting for it. Why are some CDs "1 of 1 holds", and other ones get a longer queue? 2. I have several CDs in my hold queue that have said "1 of 1 holds" for four months or longer! Are they missing? Will they eventually change to another status, or do I have to wait until a year or waiting runs out? 3. When browsing the catalog, some CDs aren't available to be checked out. What decided whether a CD is available on loan, or whether the single copy has to stay physically at some remote library? 4. Finally, I have one really weird hold that has said "STATUS: DUE 03-14-17" for a few weeks now... although I haven't picked it up yet. Will I be responsible for late charges on a CD that never arrived at my library?

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