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Get a Library Card

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Your Library Card is your key to checking out books and library materials at any of Austin Public Library’s 21 locations and access to digital resources.

Apply for a Library CardRenew Library Card / eCard

Library Card Policies | Types of Austin Public Library Cards

  1. Check your address 
    Find out if you are eligible for a free Austin resident Library Card by checking your address here. If you reside at an address in the Austin Full Purpose jurisdiction or (beginning March 11th, 2024) an Austin 2 Mile ETJ, Austin 5 Mile ETJ, Austin LTD jurisdiction, you qualify for a free Library Card. 
  2. Apply online 
    Fill out the online application. Make a note of the Library Card password you choose, as you will need it later. 
  3. Visit a Library location to present documentation and get your card 
    Bring your photo ID and proof of residence address to a Library location. After showing your required documentation and signing your application, staff will issue the Library Card.
  4. Enjoy the Library 
    You can use your card at any APL location and online to check out, download, and place items on hold. 

Have questions or need assistance? 
Want to find out if you already have a Library Card or if your residential address is eligible for a free Library Card before applying? Contact Customer Service at 512-974-7475 or circ.link@austintexas.gov.

eCard - Access to Digital Resources

Apply for an eCard

The Austin Public Library eCard gives homebound adults or just plain busy Austin residents (18 years and older) access to the Digital Resources. If you have an Austin Public Library Card, you already have access to the Digital Resources.

  1. Fill out an online eCard application, then upload your photo ID and residence address documentation
  2. The application will be processed within 2-3 business days; once approved, you will receive an email with your eCard number
  3. The Library eCard gives you 24/7 access to the Digital Resources.

Note: Adults who live in Texas, but not in an Austin Full PurposeAustin 2 Mile ETJ, Austin 5 Mile ETJ, Austin LTD jurisdiction, can purchase an eCard for an annual fee of $22.

Library Card Policies

  • Most items are loaned for 3 weeks, with up to 2 renewals (unless another customer has placed a hold on the item or the account is not in good standing)
  • If an item is lost or damaged, the account is billed the cost of the item, as determined by the Library.
  • Items can have holds placed on them and can be sent to a specified Austin Public Library location for pickup.
  • Holds not picked up or not canceled within the 10 calendar day hold period will be assessed a $1.00 fee per item. 
  • Pay Library fees

Acceptable Photo IDs

Acceptable Photo IDs link

APL accepts the following types of valid (or expired for one year or less) photo IDs:

  • Texas Driver License
  • Texas Department of Public Safety ID
  • Non-Texas State Issued License or ID
  • Passport
  • Military ID
  • International Driver License
  • Non-US Driver License or permit
  • Credencial Para Votar ID (Mexico voter registration card)
  • Non-US Consular ID
  • Resident Alien Card
  • Austin Police Department ID
  • Texas Offender ID
  • Texas Concealed Handgun License
  • Educational Institution Photo ID
  • Service Point ID
  • Government issued ID with an identifying number
  • Austin Public Library Enhanced Library Card
  • Written verification issued by a homeless service agency, hospital, health clinic, social services agency, or faith-based agency within Austin confirming residency (original, signed copy on official letterhead)

*Digital forms of identification are accepted

Acceptable Proof of Address

Acceptable Proof of Address link

  • Driver license, temporary Texas Driver's License or Learner’s Permit
  • Texas Department of Public Safety ID
  • Austin Public Library Enhanced Library Card
  • Bank or credit union statement
  • Utility deposit receipt or utility bill from the past 60 days
  • Credit card bill from the past 60 days
  • Current Voter Registration Card or notarized temporary Voter Registration Permit
  • Current vehicle registration or liability insurance
  • Official rent receipt; rental agreement, contract or lease
  • Employment pay stub from the past 60 days
  • Written verification issued by a homeless service agency, hospital, health clinic, social services agency, or faith-based agency within Austin confirming residency (original, signed copy on official letterhead)
  • Mail postmarked within the last 60 days (if none of the above is available)

*Digital forms of proof of address documents are accepted

How to Determine Austin Residency

How to Determine Austin Residency link

Austin Public Library cards are available for free to people residing within the city limits of Austin and, beginning March 11th, 2024, the extended Austin Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) and Limited Purpose Jurisdiction. Use the City of Austin's Jurisdictions Web Map tool to find out what jurisdiction your residential address is in. 

If your residential address description shows Austin Full Purpose, Austin 2 Mile ETJ, Austin 5 Mile ETJ, or Austin LTD, you qualify for a resident Library Card free of charge. All other descriptions are considered non-resident addresses and will require a non-resident fee in order to get or renew a Library Card. More information about applying for a Library Card can be found here.

Use of the Library's resources while in any Library location, including use of Online Databases, use of public computers and wifi, and participation in Library programs is free and open to all.

For more information, contact Austin Public Library Customer Service at 512-974-7475 or circ.link@austintexas.gov.

Using the Jurisdictions Web Map

Using the Jurisdictions Web Map link

Here's how you can find out in which jurisdiction you reside:

Navigate to the City of Austin Jurisdictions Web Map: https://maps.austintexas.gov/GIS/JurisdictionsWebMap/

Click I want to… and then click Find My Jurisdiction

jurisdiction web map select Find My Jurisdiction

Enter your address (house number and street name only).

jurisdiction web map add address

jurisdiction web map hit submit

From the dropdown list that's displayed, click on the address you're searching for and click Submit.

If the search displays results, look at the Address Description section to see the jurisdiction for the address entered.

Austin Full Purpose

The Austin Full Purpose and, beginning March 11th, 2024, Austin 2 Mile ETJ, Austin 5 Mile ETJ, Austin LTD jurisdiction description indicates you qualify for a resident Library Card free of charge.

What if my address has another jurisdiction description displayed?

If you see another description, such as another city Full Purpose / ETJ / LTD, or No Address Found, the address is not within an area eligible for a free Library Card and will require a non-resident fee in order to get or renew a Library Card.

Types of Cards

Types of Cards link

Austin Public Library has a variety of membership options that allow cardholders to borrow APL materials and/or access the Digital Resources.

Adult Library Cards

Adult Library Cards link

Adult Resident and Non-Resident Library Cards are issued to applicants 18 and older. To apply for a new or replacement Adult Resident or Non-Resident Library Card, the person whose name is on the account must complete a Library Card Online Application or Adult Library Card Application and bring in person a valid/acceptable photo ID and proof of current residence address in their name to any Austin Public Library location. For extenuating circumstances that do not allow for regular Library Card registration or renewal, please call the Customer Service Office at 512-974-7475.

  • Adult Resident cards are good for 3 years from the date issued/renewed.
  • $120 Yearly Non-Resident cards issued/renewed are good for 1 year from the date paid.
  • $30 Quarterly Non-Resident cards issued/renewed are good for 3 months from the date paid.

Renewing Adult Cards
To renew an expired Adult Library Card, the person whose name is on the account must either:

  • Visit an Austin Public Library location and present the Library Card, a valid and acceptable photo ID, and proof of their current residence address in their name, or
  • Use the Library Card Renewal Form and then upload their photo ID and address documentation.

Adults renewing their Library Card will need to pay any unpaid fees owed on the account down to $24.99 or less. However, if the account has been referred to collections, all fees owed must be paid in full. Non-residents have to pay a non-resident fee in full to renew their Library Card.

Note: Name changes require another library card application to be completed and signed.

Youth Library Cards

Youth Library Cards link

Youth Resident and Non-Resident Library Cards are issued to applicants who are under 18 years of age in the presence of an adult parent/guardian signee. To apply for a new or replacement Youth Library Card, the adult parent/guardian signee must complete a Library Card Online Application or Youth Library Card Application and bring in person a valid/acceptable photo ID and proof of current residence address in their name to any Austin Public Library location. If the child is not present when applying for a new card, the parent/guardian is required to present either the child's birth certificate, photo ID, or Social Security Card. A child can only have one Youth card account. For split households, please call the Customer Service Office at 512-974-7475.

  • Youth Resident cards are good for 3 years from the date issued/renewed, or until the cardholder's 18th birthday, whichever occurs first.
  • $120 Yearly Non-Resident cards issued/renewed are good for 1 year from the date paid.
  • $30 Quarterly Non-Resident cards issued/renewed are good for 3 months from the date paid.

Student Cards
The non-resident fee is waived for any student who either lives in or is enrolled in any school in Travis County - including private school, public, daycare, charter, and home school students - until completion of high school. These students are eligible for a Student Library Card. For more information and frequently asked questions, check out our Student Library Card page.

Renewing Youth Cards
To renew an expired Youth Library Card, the parent or guardian listed on the account must either:

  • Visit an Austin Public Library location and present the Library Card, their valid and acceptable photo ID, and proof of current residence address in their name, or
  • Use the Library Card Renewal Form and then upload their photo ID and address documentation.

Adults renewing a Youth Library Card will need to pay any unpaid fees owed on the account down to $24.99 or less. However, if the account has been referred to collections, all fees owed must be paid in full. Non-residents have to pay a non-resident fee in full to renew their Library Card.

Note: Parent/Guardian changes require another library card application to be completed and signed.

Enhanced Library Cards with Photo

Enhanced Library Cards with Photo link

The Enhanced Library Card is a library card for adults (18 or older) that includes your library card number, photograph, address, date of birth, the expiration date, and a scannable barcode.

The Enhanced Library Card can be used to check out items from APL's physical collection and/or access to APL's Digital Resources, depending on your membership type.

Enhanced Library Cards are available at nine Austin Public Library locations, which include:

  • Central Library, 710 W. César Chávez St.
  • Cepeda Branch, 651 N. Pleasant Valley Rd. 
  • Little Walnut Creek Branch, 835 W. Rundberg Ln
  • Menchaca Road Branch, 5500 Menchaca Rd.
  • Milwood Branch, 12500 Amherst Dr.
  • Ruiz Branch, 1600 Grove Blvd.
  • St. John Branch, 7500 Blessing Ave.
  • Southeast Branch, 5803 Nuckols Crossing Rd.
  • Terrazas Branch, 1105 E. César Chávez St.  

Click here for information about Enhanced Library Cards.

eCards - Access to Digital Resources

eCards - Access to Digital Resources link

Library eCard

Apply for an Library eCard

The Austin Public Library eCard gives homebound adults or just plain busy Austin residents (18 years and older) access to the Digital Library Resources. If you have an Austin Public Library Card, you already have access to the Digital Library Resources.

  1. Fill out an online eCard application, then upload your photo ID and residence address documentation
  2. The application will be processed within 2-3 business days; once approved, you will receive an email with your eCard number
  3. The Library eCard gives you 24/7 access to the Digital Library Resources.

Group Cards

Group Cards link

The Austin Public Library offers special Group Library Cards for use by faculty at schools and educational/service groups in Austin and Travis County, such as public, home and private schools, day care centers, group homes, or nursing homes.

Group Cards are used to checkout materials for the institution, not for personal use.

The Group Card is issued in the name of an individual. That individual is legally responsible for items checked out on the card regardless of any agreements he/she may have with the school or institution involved.

The individual applying for the Group Card must complete a Group Card Application at any Austin Public Library location and present it along with their valid/acceptable photo ID, proof of address, and proof of current employment/affiliation with the institution that the card will be used for. A letter from the director, coordinator or principal of the institution, or a recent pay stub is acceptable current proof of employment/affiliation. Applicants who home school will have to present a letter stating that they home school. (Digital proof of current employment/affiliation is acceptable.)

Group cards are good for one year. To renew an expired Group card, proof of current employment or affiliation with the institute is required. (Digital proof of current employment/affiliation is acceptable.)

Adults applying for a new Group Card or renewing an existing card will need to pay any fees owed on their own account down to $24.99 or less. However, if the account has been referred to collections, all fees owed must be paid in full.

Benefits include a 6-week loan period for books and CDs. (DVDs/Blu-Ray have a 3-week loan period.) With the exception of DVDs/Blu-Ray, items on Group Cards can’t be renewed.

For additional information and requirements, please ask at any Library location or call 512-974-7475.

TexShare Cards across Libraries

TexShare Cards across Libraries link

Limited Access Austin Public Library Cards

TexShare borrowing cardholders from other libraries have the option to apply in person for a free limited access Austin Public Library card by presenting a current/valid paper TexShare card from a participating library system, along with a valid/acceptable photo ID and proof of current residence address. TexShare cardholders are limited to borrowing physical materials only, with a maximum of 10 items checked out to their account at one time. TexShare cardholders will not be able to access Overdrive, ILL, or have remote access to the online databases or any of the other Digital Resources.

Limited access library cards will expire on the same date as the borrower's paper TexShare card (up to 1 year from the APL registration or renewal date) and must be renewed before privileges are restored. A current/valid TexShare card, photo ID and proof of address must be presented in order to renew the card and only accounts with $24.99 or less owed are eligible for renewal.

Please note that, per TexShare Program rules, paper TexShare Cards that have corrections will not be accepted.

TexShare Cards for APL Cardholders

Austin Public Library cardholders (resident and paid non-resident) who have had their Library Card for at least 6 months and are in good standing, are eligible to apply for a paper TexShare Card to borrow materials from other participating library systems. TexShare privileges may be revoked at any time by the borrower's home library or withheld by the lending library.

APL cardholders wanting a paper TexShare Card to use at a participating library system will need to contact Customer Service at 512-974-7475 or circ.link@austintexas.gov to find out how to apply. Cardholders will need to fill out a TexShare Agreement Form and will receive the TexShare Card via U.S. Mail in 7-10 days. The TexShare Card will be valid for up to 1 year.

An APL customer who uses a paper TexShare Card to obtain library privileges at another library will be required to observe and abide by all the regulations and policies of the lending library.

The TexShare cardholder will assume responsibility for all items checked out on and all library fees (including collections fees) incurred by the use of the TexShare Card.

For more information go to the TexShare Card Program website, or call 512-974-7475.

Checking Out Items & Limits

Checking Out Items & Limits link

A valid Austin Public Library Card is required to borrow materials. The actual Library Card, or a valid/acceptable photo ID, must be presented in order to check out physical materials.

Library materials may not be checked out to an account if:

  • there are unpaid fees totaling $25 or more
  • the account has been referred to a collection agency
  • the account is expired

Please note that if the automated system is down for any reason, the Library Card must be presented in order to check out while the system is down.

Physical materials: Resident and paid Non-Resident Library Cards can have a maximum of 50 items checked out at one time. APL TexShare Cards can have a maximum of 10 items checked out at one time. APL eCards are not able to check out physical materials.

Virtual Library: Access is available to Resident and paid Non-Resident Library Card and eCard types. Borrowing limit varies by platform.

Loan Periods & Due Dates

Loan Periods & Due Dates link

  • Physical Materials - Books, CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays, LPs, Circulating Laptops: 3 weeks, two renewals (unless another customer has placed a hold on the item or the account is not in good standing)
  • Wi-Fi Hotspots: 3 weeks, no renewals, limit one per card
  • Laptops (for use in the Library at select locations once the requirements are met): 4 hours, no renewals, limit one per card
  • Tool Library (available at the Recycled Reads Bookstore once the requirements are met): 3 weeks, no renewals, limit three per card
  • Physical Material Due Dates: When items are renewed, the new due date is calculated from the date of the renewal. Library materials are not due on holiday closure dates.
  • eBooks, eAudiobooksStreaming Videos: Varies by platform, please check the platform's Digital Resource page for renewal information.

Fees

Fees link

These approved fees are part of the budget and Fee Schedule process and are the subject of a City Ordinance. Approved fees for the current fiscal year do not change fees incurred from previous years.

Overdue Fines

Overdue Fines link

On February 17, 2022, the Austin City Council adopted an ordinance eliminating fines for Austin Public Library materials returned or renewed past the due date. This went into effect on February 28, 2022. We have created a Fine-Free Library FAQ to help library customers understand what this change will mean for them.

While APL no longer charges overdue fines for items returned or renewed past the due date, customers are still required to return materials when they are due back. When an item becomes 28 days overdue, it is 'assumed lost' by the system and the account is billed the cost of the item, as determined by the Library.

Lost or Damaged Material Fees

Lost or Damaged Material Fees link

If an item is lost or damaged, the account is billed the cost of the item, as determined by the Library. The Austin Public Library does not accept replacement copies for lost or damaged items.

Charges for lost or damaged laptops and electronic devices include the cost of the laptop / device plus a $150 non-refundable service charge per device.

Refunds are only eligible for up to 1 year from the ‘Date Billed’ for LOST items that have been paid for in full. In order to receive a refund, the item and a receipt showing payment in full must be presented.

Expired Hold Fee

Expired Hold Fee link

Holds not picked up or not canceled within the 10 calendar day hold period will be assessed a $1.00 fee per item. 

Delinquent Accounts

Delinquent Accounts link

The Austin Public Library has contracted with Unique Management Services to assist in recovering unreturned Library material and unpaid fees. Accounts with unreturned material and/or unpaid fees 56 days or more past due will be submitted to Unique Management Services and a service charge of $10 will be added to the balance.

Once an account has been referred to Unique Management Services, all fees must be paid in order for the card to be used again.

Paying Fees

Paying Fees link

  • Pay online with a credit card or eCheck at this link.
  • Fees can be paid in-person at any Austin Public Library location (except Recycled Reads and the Austin History Center) with:
    • Cash
    • Credit/Debit Card
    • Personal Checks (for the exact amount)
    • Money Orders 
  • Payments can be mailed to:
    • Austin Public Library Customer Service Office
      PO BOX 2287
      Austin, TX 78768-2287

Lost or Stolen Library Cards

Lost or Stolen Library Cards link

If your Austin Public Library Card has been lost or stolen, notify APL as soon as possible. 

Ways to Report Your Library Card Lost or Stolen:

The Austin Public Library is not responsible for any unauthorized use of an Austin Public Library Card. To minimize liability, cardholders must inform the Austin Public Library immediately if their Library Card becomes lost or stolen. 

Cardholders are held responsible for any items checked out and any fines incurred by the use of their Library Card prior to the card being reported lost or stolen.

Placing Holds

Placing Holds link

Physical materials: Circulating items can have holds placed on them and can be sent to a specified Austin Public Library location for pickup. There is a 15 hold limit on a valid Austin Public Library card at one time.

Holds can be placed by logging into My Account using the Library Card number and the associated PIN/PASSWORD as long as the account is in good standing.

Holds not picked up or not canceled within the 10 calendar day hold period will be assessed a $1.00 fee per item. This policy was implemented to decrease the high number of unclaimed holds and the wait time for Library materials.

If the account the hold is placed on has a valid email address, an email notification will be sent when the item is available at the specified pickup location. To ensure our emails go to your inbox rather than a spam or junk folder, we strongly recommend that you add our notification email address to your Contacts and/or allowed sender list: sirsi@aupl.sirsi.net. If there isn't an email address on the account, the notification will be sent through the U.S. Mail.

eBooks, eAudiobooks & streaming Videos: The hold limit for Overdrive titles is 7. Once you are notified that an Overdrive hold is available, you have 72 hours in which to check it out.

Renewing Items

Renewing Items link

Physical materials: When items are renewed, the new due date is calculated from the date of the renewal.

Austin Public Library materials may be renewed two times, except for items that have holds placed on them by other customers and items checked out for 6 weeks on Group Cards. As long as the account is in good standing, eligible items may be renewed online by logging in through My Account. The library card number or username and the associated password are required for this service.

Eligible physical items can also be renewed over the phone by calling the Customer Service Office at 512-974-7475.

The Austin Public Library offers courtesy automatic item renewals. Materials that are “due today” will be automatically renewed if the items are eligible. Items will not be automatically renewed and the due dates of items will not be extended if they have been requested by other users, have already reached the renewal limit, or if your account is not in good standing. If there is an email address on your account and items are eligible for renewal, you will receive a message confirming your new due dates. If items cannot be automatically renewed, you will receive the normal due date reminder email.

eBooks, eAudiobooks & all Digital Resources: Varies by platform, please check the platform's Digital Resource page for renewal information.

Returning Items & Transferring Items from Card to Card

Returning Items & Transferring Items from Card to Card link

Austin Public Library materials can be returned to any Austin Public Library location. APL materials will be checked in at the return location. Book drops are open after hours and during holiday closures. The Central Library and the Milwood Branch have automated Intelligent Return machines that immediately check in items returned.

APL materials may also be mailed to our Customer Service Office.

Austin Public Library Customer Service Office
PO BOX 2287
Austin, TX 78768-2287

In order for Austin Public Library materials to be transferred from one account to another, the items must be presented in person to staff and checked in. If there aren't any holds on the items, they can be checked out by the returning party.

Interlibrary Loan Service

Interlibrary Loan Service link

Some books not available in the Austin Public Library system may be obtained from other library systems using the Interlibrary Loan service. For more information, please visit the Interlibrary Loan page, contact an Adult Services Librarian online through Ask a Librarian or call 512-974-7400 (option 1).

TexShare and Group cardholders are not able to place Interlibrary Loan holds.

Information provided on this Web page is subject to change through action of the Austin City Council or the Austin Public Library.