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What is a Library Card?

By K T Solis
Updated May 23, 2024
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A library card is a card provided by a library so that library patrons can borrow a variety of materials. Holders of a library card can check out items such as books, CDs, videos, DVDs, audio books, artwork, and more. A library card is often required if a person wants to take advantage of other library services as well. Public libraries issue library cards free of charge to people who live in the library's city but require patrons to pay for replacement cards.

In order to obtain a card from the public library, a potential library user needs to formally apply for a library card. The library requires an applicant to provide proof of identity and address so that important information is verified for their purposes. Proof of identity is usually a driver's license or some other photo ID.

Today's cards issued by the public library usually look a lot like a credit card. Each card has a barcode number linked to individual patrons. When the computer reads the barcode information, it accesses a specific library patron's information. A library clerk can scan the barcode to check books out to patrons, renew books for a patron, and review a patron's account.

Library cards are useful to have because they allow people to borrow materials from the library at no charge. If a person is a card holder, she can check out the latest bestselling books. Books can be quite costly if purchased in the local bookstore, but libraries allow bibliophiles to read their favorite books at no charge.

Music lovers can check out CDs from many genres. Available music styles include classical, jazz, rock, oldies, alternative, R&B, hip-hop, and more. This is ideal for those who want to listen to different types of music without spending large amounts of money to do so.

Movie buffs should also consider obtaining library cards because the library is a haven for movies of all types. Whether a person enjoys black-and white films from the Golden Age of Hollywood or blockbuster movies, the library offers a variety of DVDs and videos to fit most people's tastes.

Those who regularly make long commutes to work or travel cross-country by car would also do well to obtain library cards. The public library usually has a selection of audio books for children, teens, and adults. Audio books are ideal for those who are trapped in the car for long periods of time. Audio books are also useful for those who like to listen to something interesting while at work, or those doing housework.

Some libraries allow library card holders to borrow artwork and take it home for a few weeks. People who love to redecorate their homes may enjoy borrowing paintings from the library because it allows them to constantly change the look of their homes. Art lovers save money by borrowing art instead of purchasing it.

When a patron checks out items with her library card, she can keep items for several weeks. When the items are due, she must return or renew the materials. If the items are not returned on time, the library charges a small fine for each item. The fine increases each day the overdue items remain checked out.

Another library service provided to those with library cards includes computer and public Internet access. People who hold a library card are permitted to use the library's computers in order to use a variety of software, games, and Internet access. If a library patron has no computer at home or does not have Internet at home, using the library's computers is a logical choice. Many libraries require that a person has a card before allowing her to use their computer lab.

A library card is issued by the public library in order to grant people the privilege of checking out a variety of materials. Whether a person enjoys books, magazines, music, movies, or artwork, she should consider applying for a card in order to take advantage of all the services the library has to offer. When people acquire library cards, they receive entertainment and information for free.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Sporkasia — On May 13, 2014

@Laotionne - I have moved many times, so I have been in a similar situation to the one you are currently experiencing. While the rules from one library to another may differ slightly, I feel confident that my experiences are close to the norm.

When I moved to a new town, I explained to the librarian that I didn't have any identification with my current address. I asked her whether there was any way I could get a new library card there.

Actually, it was simpler than I thought. She told me that a current bill, such as an electric bill, or a cable bill, with my new address and my name could be used to verify my residency. In addition, I needed my driver's license to prove I was who I said I was.

In fact, I have moved many times, and this method of getting a card has been an option in all of the places I have been.

By Laotionne — On May 13, 2014

I moved recently and haven't had time to update my identification card, so my old address is on the card. Since the address on the card is located in another city, county and state, I am wondering whether I will be able to get a library card from here,.

I have my old library card. Would that help? Could I get a card with the old ID and my library card from my old town, which has not expired?

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