COPPULating at the Library

There must be something about working with books that makes library staff happy. Every time I interact with anyone who works in a library?whether It’s a public or an academic library?It’s a pleasant experience.

I took my COPPUL card out for a test run recently. A COPPUL card is a reciprocal borrowing card that allows limited borrowing privileges at participating academic libraries. AU students can request a COPPUL card from the AU library, then use it to borrow materials from participating university libraries across the country.

Getting my COPPUL card was easy. I sent an e-mail to the AU Library ( and they mailed a card to me the same day. Along with the card, I received information on using the card and a list of participating Canadian universities.

There are at least half a dozen university campuses within a 150-kilometre radius of my home. I chose the closest, Carleton University. At over 100 kilometres away, It’s still a hike to get there, but I’m familiar with the campus?a huge advantage. And, importantly, they had the book I wanted for a research project.

Armed with my COPPUL card and the call number of the book, I approached the Help Desk at Carleton’s MacOdrum Library. I was expecting a bit of a hassle. What if they weren’t familiar with COPPUL cards? Probably they don’t see them every day, right?

No worries, the Help Desk person knew about COPPUL cards. But he didn’t know how to process one. He looked it up in his manual, but it didn’t explain what to do. No problem?he called another staff member over.

Now with two staff members on the job, they determined they would have to issue me a Carleton University library card. All they needed was my COPPUL card and my AU student ID. Okay, That’s a problem. I’ve never applied for an AU student card. After explaining that many AU students don’t have a student card because they are primarily distance students, the Carleton library staff said they would accept my driver’s licence as photo ID to go along with the COPPUL card. I filled out a short form with my name, address, and contact information, and minutes later I had a Carleton University library card.

Since they were so helpful?it was a Help Desk, after all?I asked where I could find the book I wanted. After looking at the call number, they told me the book was on the fourth floor. Just then another library staff member walked by and offered to take me there herself.

Minutes later I was escorted directly to the book I came to borrow, and then escorted back to the Help Desk to check out the book. The whole process took less than fifteen minutes. Now that I have a Carleton U Library card, my next visit will be even quicker (and Carleton’s MacOdrum Library is open 24 hours a day!)

While I usually can find the research materials I need at or through the AU Library, It’s reassuring to know I have almost unlimited resources available to me through the COPPUL card. Getting it, and using it, turned out to be easy and effective, plus, it let me engage in social intercourse with some really pleasant people.

Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario. Follow Barbara on twitter @ThereGoesBarb.

%d bloggers like this: