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About library cards

Am I eligible for a free library card?

You are eligible for a free MCPL card -- at any age -- if you

  • live, work, or go to school in Montgomery County; or
  • live in Maryland, in the District of Columbia, or in Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, Fairfax, Loudoun, or Prince William Counties in Northern Virginia.

How do I apply for a card?

Apply at any MCPL branch, showing a photo ID and proof of address. If you wish, you may bring a completed library card application, which is also available in Spanish.

Or apply online now.

Where can I use my card?

Use your card at all MCPL branches and for our online resources.

Your card also allows you to borrow from public libraries throughout the state of Maryland, in the District of Columbia, and in the Northern Virginia jurisdictions listed above.

Types of accounts

  • Regular Accounts: For individual use of all library collections and services.
  • Restricted Accounts: For children under 13, at the request of the parent or guardian. This card limits borrowing to the children's collection.
  • Household Accounts: For all members of a household living at the same address to share one library card barcode number.  You will have access to each other's borrowing records. All household card applicants must appear in person when applying for the card. As on all other cards, there is a maximum of 100 checked-out items.
  • Nonresident Accounts: For those who do not meet the residency requirements for a free card. There is a $10.00 non-refundable fee that must be paid at the time of registration and annually thereafter.
  • Guest Cards: For people who want to use library computers, this card is good for only one day. If you live out of state, you must show proof of address. Local customers without established proof of residency can be issued a guest card. Computer use policies apply, including time limits.
  • Homebound Accounts: For users of MCPL's Homebound Service.
  • Educator Accounts: For daycare providers, home school teachers, and preschool and elementary school teachers for classroom use only. You may borrow from the Children's collection, receiving an extended 9-week non-renewable loan. To apply, bring a letter on the school's letterhead indicating your employment or bring the State's letter of approval of your home schooling. You may have both an educator card and a regular card.
  • Business/Institution Accounts: For businesses or institutions, such as nursing homes, nonprofits, or schools, to be used by employees. To apply, bring a letter on company letterhead authorizing the card for business purposes. The letter should state the name of the person responsible if problems arise. Responsibility for fines lies with the business and not with an individual.

Why does my card expire annually?

MCPL requires that library card accounts be renewed every year for these reasons:

  • Many customers move or change their email addresses, and thousands of our notices about holds, fines, and fees become undeliverable. By requiring an annual account renewal, we get up-to-date contact information for cardholders.
  • Before this policy change, many customers carried very large fines for years, and sometimes materials had not been returned. By requiring all fines and fees to be paid prior to the annual card renewal, we are more likely to clear up accounts and get our materials back.

How do I renew my card?

If your account is in good standing and your contact information has not changed, you can renew your card online. If you receive MCPL's email notifications, you will get an email with a link to renew your account a month before it expires. You can also renew your account by logging in on our website, by calling Ask-a-Librarian at 240-777-0001, or by visiting a library.

All fines must be paid before your account can be renewed.

If you have moved, you must bring proof of address to a library. Email addresses can be updated on our email registration form. Phone numbers can be updated by calling Ask-a-Librarian at 240-777-0001.

If your card expires, you will not be able to use the library's computers, check out materials, place holds, or renew items beyond the card's expiration date. 

How do I replace a lost card?

Replacing a lost or stolen card costs $2.00.  Bring photo ID and proof of address to any MCPL branch.

Your library account is private.

Library accounts are confidential.  By law, we can discuss your library account only with you.  This applies to all cardholders, adults and children alike. 

To help parents avoid fines on their children's accounts, we offer