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Access to Free Austin Public Library Cards to be Expanded

Residents of Austin’s Limited Purpose and Extraterritorial Jurisdictions Will No Longer Be Subject to Non-Resident Fees for Library Cards...

The Austin City Council recently approved an ordinance removing the non-resident library card fee for residents of certain areas just outside the City’s full-purpose jurisdiction, expanding free access to Austin Public Library’s collections to more people in the Austin community.

Previously, any person who was not either a resident of the City of Austin’s full-purpose jurisdiction or a student enrolled in school in Travis County would have to pay up to $120 a year for a non-resident library card from Austin Public Library. The ordinance adopted today by the City Council waives that fee for individuals who live in either the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) or its limited purpose jurisdiction.

“We are very pleased that Council has adopted this change, and that more individuals will be able to access our incredible collection, free of charge,” stated Austin Public Library Director Roosevelt Weeks. “With the significant population growth over recent years on the edges of our city’s limits, as well as the cost of living driving many longtime residents out of the city center, a non-resident fee becomes an economic barrier for many in the community we serve. Austin Public Library is always looking at ways to lift barriers to access.”

The ETJ is the unincorporated land within five miles of Austin’s boundary that is not within the city limits or ETJ of another city. The limited purpose jurisdiction extends the City's ordinances and regulations pertaining to land development and the environment and, in some cases, health and safety. Limited purpose residents may vote in city council and charter amendment elections, and the City collects no taxes in limited purpose areas and does not provide municipal services.

Many residents of the ETJ and limited purpose jurisdiction have Austin mailing addresses, and in some cases are just blocks away from certain Austin Public Library branches.

A map visualizing Austin’s full-purpose, limited purpose, and extraterritorial jurisdictions is available here:

More information on Austin Public Library cards, including a guide for residents to look up which jurisdiction they reside in, is available here:

The change goes into effect on March 11, 2024.