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BEACON Express Guide: Frequently Asked Questions

Overview and Policies

Eligible Borrowers

JPL Library primarily serves the scientific and technical information needs of the JPL community. However, we are also a part of a greater network of libraries for sharing resources within the limit of copyright law and license agreements. Following, is a list of who has privileges and what can be borrowed:

  • Print materials may be checked out by JPL employees, JPL on-site contractors, JPL interns, JPL affiliates, or NASA employees resident on Lab
  • E-Resources are limited to users on the JPL network and, remotely, through JPL's Remote Access Service
  • Caltech faculty, students, and staff can submit an interlibrary loan request through Caltech Library's DocuServe
  • All other persons may request books via their home (university or public) library's interlibrary loan service
    • For journal articles published by JPL authors, please check with your home library's journal subscription first. If your home library does not subscribe to that journal, please request an "interlibrary loan" via your home library
  • JPL staff can use BEACON Express to borrow materials from other libraries


Length of Checkout

  • New books with a waiting list:  3 weeks
  • Reference books: 1 week
  • ebooks: see publisher for details
  • DVDs: 2 weeks
  • All others: 1 month



  • Interns: Books without pending Recalls will be automatically renewed for a month
  • All others: Books without pending Recalls will be automatically renewed for a year



  • All items can be recalled after a month, see the Recall a JPL Library Book section for details on how to place a recall.
  • If you do not return a recalled book after three notices from the Library, we will contact your manager to obtain a Project Task Number, in which to charge the purchase of a replacement copy of the book



  • We do not charge overdue fines for books checked out
  • However, as noted above, if you lose or refuse to return a book, we will charge your group's Project Task Number to purchase a replacement

Note that the JPL Library adheres to the American Library Association's policy on confidentiality of user records with personally identifiable information.


What is BEACON Express?

BEACON Express is an online request system which the JPL Library has implemented to automate article, book loans, and purchase processes. 

Who can use BEACON Express?

JPL employees, interns, on-site contractors, and affiliates.

What are the differences between a Book Loan and Purchase Request?

  • Book Loan = When you need to borrow a book for a short period of time, and the item is not in our collection we will borrow the book from another library. Fees may apply. See our Interlibrary Loan page for more information
  • Purchase Request = When you need to buy a book, also known as a Desk Copy. You will need to provide a project/task number in order to complete your request. See our Buying Books page for more information

Can I borrow materials for home use?

No. Please use your local public library for you and your family members' personal interlibrary loan needs

Is my address and user information automatically updated when I change locations?

No. Unfortunately our database is not linked to any internal directories. Staff must update your profile. Contact 4-4200.

Will I be charged for my request?

The library does not charge for its services. The only time you will be charged is for photocopies, if we are charged by another library for an Interlibrary Loan request. We always try the free sources first when submitting Interlibrary requests for photocopies or books. The average cost for an Interlibrary Loan from an institution that charges, is from $10.00 to $15.00 – some may charge up to $20.00.

Book Purchases are list price minus the vendor’s discount, which ranges from 5-20% plus shipping.

What Web browser should I use?

You can use any browser you prefer.

How long are Article files stored?

PDF's of completed requests will only be saved for 30 days on our server, or after 5 views. You must print or save the file before then. Once you save the file onto your device, you can view it as many times and for as long as you like.

What is the average turn-around time?

24 hours for an electronic copy of an article. Two weeks or longer for a book.

How long can I keep a book borrowed from another library​?

The lending library will set the due date. Any renewals to extend the loan period are subject to approval by the lending library. Email Beth Daruthayan ( or email to request a renewal.

About BEACON Express

BEACON Express brings the Library’s Document Delivery service to your computer desktop. We can supply copies of journal articles, conference papers, documents and book requests.

We go beyond our own library collection to buy or borrow the item you need to do your JPL work*, whatever the source.

* For personal or recreational items, please use your local public library.

Login to BEACON Express

Contact the JPL Library

For additional information about any JPL Library resources and services please contact us:

  1. Slack #help-library
  2. Email:
  3. Phone: 818-354-4200
  4. Visit Building 111, Room 104 (the HUB) at JPL: 24/7 access with badge