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My small town USA university provides me free interlibrary loans. They confirmed that I can authorize anyone as a proxy like these quotes. For confidentiality, I don't want to name my university or town.

Albany, State University of New York

Proxy Borrowers

You may designate another person such as an aide, family member or friend to conduct library business on your behalf. This is called a “Proxy Borrower”.  Your proxy borrower may then complete forms, pick-up and return materials and conduct other business without you being present. You may designate more than one person as a proxy borrower. Note: You are responsible for any fines and lost book bills incurred by your proxy(s). Proxy authorization forms are available at the Circulation Desk.

Arizona State University

Yes, ASU students, faculty and staff may authorize another individual, as a “proxy”, to use their Library account to transact library business in their name.

Someone I know asked if I can borrow books for her and her family from my university library. COVID made them all unemployed. Call her Proxy. I want to help them by checking out books for them. Unquestionably, they can't afford my university library's annual $300 USD access fee, or minimum $70 USD fee for EACH interlibrary loan. I know the town's local library sucks — they don't do interlibrary loans.

She and her family are honest decent people. This risk has a low probability, but I wanted your feedback. I'm worried that after I check out books and give her them, she might not return them to me. She could sell them on Amazon for cash. How can I "insure" against this risk? I could ask them to give me collateral equal to the cost of replacing each borrowed book, but unquestionably this implies I don't trust them and they will dislike me. Any other ways? Thanks.

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    A very good question that could justifiably be migrated to InterPersonalSkills.SE.
    – RonJohn
    Dec 2, 2020 at 8:42
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    It doesn't alter the substance of how you protect yourself, but by my reading, what you're asking about has nothing to do with appointing a proxy. You're asking "if I can borrow books for her and her family" and "after I check out books and give them to her"; whereas the description of a proxy is "You may designate another person [...] to conduct library business on your behalf." – they are visiting the library to borrow/return books (perhaps because you cannot get there; perhaps for their own use).
    – TripeHound
    Dec 2, 2020 at 10:48
  • You wrote, "I could ask them to give me collateral equal to the cost of replacing each borrowed book, but unquestionably this implies I don't trust them and they will dislike me." Would they also dislike you if you say No to the request? Sometimes saying No is the best way to protect a relationship (e.g. when a family member asks to borrow money). And sadly, sometimes the relationship is potentially ruined the moment the question is asked...
    – TTT
    Dec 3, 2020 at 23:10
  • "Would they also dislike you if you say No to the request?" yes, you're right. i meant how can I get collateral without asking them for collateral. or another solution?
    – user104338
    Dec 4, 2020 at 7:02

2 Answers 2

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You could make a proper contract with them.

Have it state that they become a proxy borrower on your university library subscription and can use any services which are free of charge, but they have to reimburse you for any costs you have due to them using said subscription.

Now if they slip up and lose a book, then you can get that money back from them in a small claims court.

That is if they have the money. A court can't take money from someone who is so poor that they are judgment proof. If that's the case then there isn't much you can do to protect yourself. Considering that "COVID made them all unemployed", that's likely the case right now. But you might be able to collect on that judgment later when the pandemic is over and they have regular employment again.

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If the language at your university is similar, then you take 100% of the risk if you check out a book and give it to them, or if you make them a proxy and they check it out themselves.

The one advantage is that if you check out the books then you know how many they have, and you can control them number that they have. If you make them a proxy they can checkout the maximum number they are allowed. It isn't clear from the text you quoted if you will be able to see what they have checked out, but I would think so since they are supposed to be acting on your behalf.

This is similar to when you add a person as an authorized user on your credit card. You are responsible for any charges they put on the card. You have to make sure the bill is paid or you will owe additional interest, penalties, and take the hit to your credit score. The authorized user gets access to credit, they get a boost to their credit file. The risk to you is they drag your score down, and cost you money.

The authorized user process means that somebody acting as you can tap into your library privileges and cost you money. If they can't be trusted then the threat of a contract, or a trip to small claims court might not matter.

There are many sources of inexpensive used books, that may make it cheaper to buy them used and then gift them to your friend. You would know exactly how much you are spending, and their potentially poor borrowing habits wouldn't be known to your employer.

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