Frequently Asked Questions
Your questions, answered.
Wondering how the Helium process works? We hope to answer all of your questions right here! But, if you have any questions not included here, don't hesitate to contact us.
Is Helium really, truly, absolutely, free?
Yes! Well...for now. So take advantage while you can! In the future, Helium will begin to implement a pricing structure that will require payment for our services. However, these payments will still be low and aim to give you the best value!
My rented book(s) have been lost or stolen...am I responsible?
Per our fee policy:
Do I need a library card to rent through Helium?
Nope! Our drivers have library cards that they use to check out books, which they then deliver to you.
Do I have to live in Milwaukee County to rent through Helium?
At this time, yes. Right now, Helium only delivers to locations within Milwaukee County because it gives us the greatest possible confidence that we are performing our services solely for the county’s residents. It is these residents that provide the public tax dollars that help fund the Milwaukee County Federated Library System - comprised of the 25+ member libraries from which we source the books that are delivered to readers via our service. So, to ensure no abuse of resources and “fair play”, we only provide our services to the residents of Milwaukee County. We hope you can understand our reasoning and our commitment to the fair distribution of public materials.
Do I need to be of a certain age to rent through Helium?
If Helium is free, why must I enter my credit/debit card information when I want to rent books?
Helium is free. You enter credit/debit card information as a form of protection in the case we never receive the rented, library-owned books you've ordered back or we do not receive them back on time. Per our fee policy, we protect ourselves from these occurrences by charging late fees and replacement fees, hence the reason we collect your payment information up front.
How do I rent books through Helium?
Rent up to 3 books at a time by clicking here and completing steps 1 and 2!
Do I have to be at the delivery location when my delivery arrives?
No, you do not have to be at the delivery location when your book(s) are delivered. As long as our driver knows the address and specific drop-off point, they can handle the rest! However, we do warn against leaving books outside for extended periods of time due to threats of theft and damage due to inclement weather, so please plan accordingly and get those books inside ASAP!
Can I have books delivered to an address that is not my home?
Certainly! However, Helium only delivers to locations within Milwaukee County because it gives us the greatest possible confidence that we are performing our services solely for the county’s residents. It is these residents that provide the public tax dollars that help fund the Milwaukee County Federated Library System - comprised of the 25+ member libraries from which we source the books that are delivered to readers via our service. So, to ensure no abuse of resources and “fair play”, we only provide our services to the residents of Milwaukee County. We hope you can understand our reasoning and our commitment to the fair distribution of public materials.
I placed my rental order, when can I expect my book(s) to arrive?
We know you're excited to get your book(s)! Assuming your desired book(s) are available from our sourcing libraries upon us receiving your rental request, due to rather unusual library operating hours, the best we can promise is that you will receive your book(s) in no more than 48 hours from the moment we receive your rental order. Typically, you will receive your book(s) in less time! Free books brought to you fast, what's not to love!
The book I received was not the book I wanted, what should I do?
Well, we're embarrassed. And we apologize. Unfortunately, you'll have to restart the process, if you feel so inclined. First, let us know you'd like to return the book you did receive here. Second, head to the Rent Books page and fill out the two forms once more. Please be specific when filling out the form in step 2 as well as it helps us best understand the exact book you'd like to rent.
We always do our absolute best to get our readers the book they want; but we do make mistakes sometimes, and for that we're sorry. We hope to hear from you again!
A friendly reminder to please keep in mind that libraries have limited quantities of books. As such, we cannot guarantee that the book(s) you desire will be available to rent at a given time from our sourcing libraries. Of course, once we receive a rental inquiry from you, we will follow up with all of the information you need to know, including the availability of your desired book(s).
It has been over 48 hours and I have yet to receive the book I requested to rent, what should I do?
Well, one of two things may have occurred. Either, we have yet to deliver your rental...that's totally on us, or there's the possibility that your rented book(s) were taken before you had the chance to take possession of them.
My book was delivered damaged to the point where I cannot even read it, what should I do?
This is unacceptable on our part and we will do everything in our power to correct this mistake. We apologize for the inconvenience this causes you.
If Helium is free, why must I enter my credit/debit card information when I want to rent books?
How do I return books I rented through Helium?
To avoid any late fees, all you must do is notify Helium that your rental is ready to be picked up and returned on or before your due date (which is stated on one of the leaflets you received with your rental). Refer to our fee policy for more detail. Also, in an effort to prevent you from having to pay late fees, Helium will reach out to you two days before your rental's due date as a friendly reminder.
Do the pick-up location and delivery location have to be the same?
Nope! The pick-up location does not have to be the same location as the delivery location.
I notified Helium that my rental was ready for pick up before it was due, but it has yet to be picked up and the due date has passed...I'm not at fault, am I?
Not at all! As long we receive notification on or before your due date (which is stated on one of the leaflets you received with your rental) that your rental is ready to be returned, the responsibility shifts to us to pick up and return your books on time. If we fail to do so, we will be responsible for the reprecussions.
I didn't return my books before they were due...what should I expect?
Can I return some books in my rental and request to renew others?
Indeed you can! You'll just have to be sure to take the proper steps for the set of books you'd like to return and the set you'd like to request to renew. In essence, treat the book(s) being returned and the book(s) being requested for renewal as two separate rentals and proceed with the appropriate steps.
Do I have to be at the pick-up location for my books to be picked up?
No, you do not have to be at the pick-up location for your book(s) to be picked up and returned. As long as our driver knows the address and specific (accessible) pick-up point, they can handle the rest! However, we do warn against leaving books outside for extended periods of time due to threats of theft and inclement weather, so please plan accordingly. Also, please do not leave your books to be picked up in a public area as there is a high risk of theft.
Can I return books through Helium that I did not originally rent and have delivered through Helium?
At this time, no you cannot. This may change in the future as our capabilities expand; however, at the moment we will not return books to local libraries on your behalf unless rented and delivered via Helium originally.
How do I renew books I rented through Helium?
You can request to renew online by clicking here.
Can I renew my rented books?
We must follow your library policies when it comes to renewals, which are admittedly nuanced. We cannot guarantee that your book(s) can be renewed. For reasons having to do with demand and equitable treatment of all library-goers and their interests, renewal for certain books at certain times may not be possible.
Why may I not be able to renew my rental? How many times can I renew the same rental?
Renewals are entirely dependent on library policy. Typically, a renter, such as yourself, can renew an individual book a maximum of two times, unless another library card-holder has requested to read that same book before your rental term expires. In these instances, you may not be able to renew even once.
Can I renew some books in my rental and return others?
I didn't request to renew my books before they were due...what should I expect?
First and foremost, request to renew your rented books.
As mentioned in some of the FAQs above within the renewal-related category, we cannot guarantee that your request to renew certain books will be successful. Library policy may prohibit us from renewing certain books at certain times for various reasons.
There are two possible results from your renewal request.
1. Your renewal request is successful and will be processed by Helium. Late fees will cease at this point.
2. Your renewal request is unsuccessful and cannot be processed at this time. In this case, you must take the appropriate steps to return any and all un-renewable books. Late fees will continue until we receive your notification to return said books.