What can you do with a library card?
- Borrow books, movies, CDs, audiobooks, magazines, digital titles, and other material from any of our libraries.
- Use our collection of research databases from home, school, or work.
- Place holds on material in our collection.
- Access the Internet from any of our libraries.
Who can get a library card?
Library cards are free to anyone who meets any of the following criteria:
- You are a resident of the State of Ohio
- You are associated with a member of an Ohio regional library system as a cardholder from a member library
- Are a staff member of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
- You are a temporary/transitional resident of Hamilton County
If you do not meet any of the criteria outlined above, a library card can be purchased at the price established by our Table of Fines and Fees.
How do I apply for a card?
Apply online or in person at any of our neighborhood branches or the Main Library’s Circulation Services Department. Customers with disabilities who are unable to visit the Library can apply for a card by mail. Please contact the Library at 513-369-6900 for additional information about applying by mail.
Parents submitting an application for a child must be accompanied by the child when the application is processed, except in the case of applicants under 18 applying for a child or teen-only library card.
What kind of identification will I need to provide?
Applicants over the age of 18 must provide either a driver's license or state ID card with a current address, a birthdate, and a signature. If your photo ID does not have your current address, then one of the following that shows your current address will be required:
- Pre-printed personal check with your name and address
- Current (Less than a month old) pre-printed rent receipt or mortgage statement
- Current (Less than a month old) utility bill with name and address (Utility Bills can include phone, gas, water, electric, or cable bills)
- Current (Less than a month old) paycheck stub with name and address
- Current (Less than a month old) bank statement with name and address
- Vehicle Registration, Post Office Verification of new address, government issued IDs (military, parole, etc.), court ordered papers
For applicants under 18, identity and home address verification is required from the parent or legal guardian signing the application. Applicants under 18 applying for a Child Only or Teen Only card need to provide name, address and date of birth.
Applicants for an Internet-only card must verify identity with documentation that includes full name. Verbal verification of address and date of birth is acceptable if not included on the documentation.
Those associated with a member of an Ohio regional library system must present a library card from the member library.
Customers applying for a card with an Educator profile will be asked to verify their employment with one of the following: employee/organization ID, paycheck stub, letter signed by school/organization head on school/organization letterhead, or homeschooling certificate.
Are there different kinds of library cards?
Only one kind of card is available—the standard red card; however, that card will have one of the following profiles:
|Unlimited||access to all circulating materials|
|Educator||access to all circulating materials (except videocassettes and DVDs) for customers who live or work in the State of Ohio who use library materials in an educational setting and whose personal use cards do not exceed established fine limits|
|Outpatron||access to all circulating materials for customers of the Library’s Outreach Services Department|
|Non-Resident Unlimited||access to all circulating materials for customers who purchase a library card|
|Limited Juvenile||access limited to Juvenile catalogued material, for customers under the age of 18, at the request of a parent or legal guardian|
|Limited No Video||access limited to any Juvenile, Teen, and Adult catalogued material except videocassettes and DVDs, for customers under the age of 18, at the request of a parent or legal guardian|
|Non-Resident Limited Juvenile||access limited to Juvenile catalogued material, for customers under the age of 18 who purchase a Library Card, at the request of a parent or legal guardian|
|Non-Resident Limited No Video||access limited to any Juvenile, Teen, and Adult catalogued material except videocassettes and DVDs, for customers under the age of 18 who purchase a Library Card, at the request of a parent or legal guardian|
|Visitor||access limited to print materials for temporary/transitional customers|
|Visitor Juvenile Limited||access limited to Juvenile catalogued material for temporary/transitional customers under the age of 18, at the request of a parent or legal guardian|
|Downloadable Only||access to the Library’s downloadable collection, internet and all databases, ages 18 and up|
|Child Only||access to three juvenile print items at a time to children under the age of 13|
|Teen Only||access to three juvenile or teen print items at a time to teens between ages 13 — 17|
|Internet Only||access to the internet and all databases to adults who live within the Library’s service area but do not have an active library card|
|Complimentary||access to the Library’s downloadable collection, Internet and all databases for a predetermined length of time, generally 3-4 weeks|
How long will it take for my card to be active?
Applicants who provide the appropriate identification will be able to use their library card immediately.
If you use our online application form, you will be issued a temporary library card number, which will expire in three weeks. You can use this temporary card number to download ebooks, audiobooks, and music, access our online databases, and place holds on Library materials. To receive a permanent card, and check out library material, you must activate your card by visiting one of our 41 locations, where you will be asked to verify your identity.
When will my library card expire?
|Unlimited||valid for five years|
|Educator||valid for one school year|
|Outpatron||valid for one year|
|Non-Resident Unlimited||valid for one year|
|Limited Juvenile||valid for five years|
|Limited No Video||valid for five years|
|Non-Resident Limited Juvenile||valid for one year|
|Non-Resident Limited No Video||valid for one year|
|Visitor||valid for three weeks (may be renewed for additional three week periods indefinitely); identity and home address must be verified for renewal|
|Visitor Juvenile Limited||valid for three weeks (may be renewed for additional three week periods indefinitely|
|Downloadable Only||valid for five years|
|Child Only||valid for five years (or until 13th birthday, if sooner)|
|Teen Only||valid for five years (or until 18th birthday, if sooner)|
|Internet Only||valid for five years|
|Complimentary||valid for 3-4 weeks|
Cards can be renewed in person or by phone, with the exception of Educator cards. Complimentary cards cannot be renewed.
Library card information and customer circulation records are considered confidential as outlined in our Confidentiality of Library Patron Record Information Policy.