How to Obtain a Library Card When You Can’t Leave Your House

How to Get a Library Card without Leaving Home

Transportation to and from the library remains a concern for many individuals who may not have the necessary time or money.  Some libraries, however, are increasing access by allowing online registration for cards.  And often these services are available not only to individuals who live or pay taxes to the city in which the library is located, but also  to individuals who live (or sometimes work) anywhere in the library’s state.  Below is a list of a few libraries that offer such services. If you know of more, tell us in the comments!

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Los Angeles Public Library (California)

Residents of Los Angeles can apply online for an eCard that is good for checking out online materials.  Full access to the library requires a physical card, however.

The San Diego Library (California)

This library only offers a temporary card (30 days) to residents who apply online.  However, you can access the online resources for that time period and then get a permanent card when you are able to walk into your local library.

Enoch Pratt Free Library (Maryland)

Currently, if you live or own property in Maryland you are eligible for a free card.  Online registration will only give you a fourteen-day trial, however.  Then you must show up in person to activate your full registration.  Out-of-state residents can apply by mail for a card at $50.00 per year.

The Boston Public Library (Massachusetts)

Individuals who reside in, attend school in, or work in Massachusetts can apply online for an eCard that gives access to the library’s online books, magazines, and databases.  Full access to the library requires a physical card, however.

The Brooklyn Public Library (New York)

If you live, work, attend school, or pay property taxes in the state of New York, you are eligible for a free library card.  Individuals 13 and older can apply online and have the card mailed to them.  Children 12 years and under, however, must show up at the library in person along with a parent or guardian.  If you live outside the state, you can get a card for $50.00.

The Free Library of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania)

Currently, anyone who lives, works, or attends school in Philadelphia can receive a library card.  Even better, anyone who lives in PA is also eligible for a free card.  You can apply online and receive your card in the mail, giving you access to e-books, audiobooks, film streaming services, and all the other databases.  If you live outside PA, you can still get a card without leaving your home, but it will cost you $50.00 a year.

The Houston Public Library (Texas)

Cards are free to residents of Texas and you can register online.  You can then borrow ebooks and use the library’s other online resources at your convenience.  Those who reside outside Texas can apply for a card at a rate of $40.00 per year.

27 thoughts on “How to Obtain a Library Card When You Can’t Leave Your House

  1. Lee says:

    I had no idea some libraries let you obtain cards without showing up in person; that’s so great! As a person who can only very rarely leave my home, this is so important to me. I got lucky in that my husband can leave the house just fine and takes excellent care of me, so I get to use his library card and he makes library runs for me every week. But if I didn’t have him I don’t know what I’d do!

    I’m going to submit a suggestion to my local library about letting people get cards online. Thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      I definitely hope we see more libraries doing this in the future. I know they have to see residency documents because of tax reasons, but surely we can email or fax them now? I sometimes wonder how homebound services work for the library. My library delivers books to homes to the elderly or the ill, but how do those people get a library card if they can’t walk in? I should ask next time I stop in.

      Aw, your husband sounds excellent! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      Yeah, it can be difficult to buy all the books, even if we want to! And, as long as we’re paying tax dollars to keep the library going, we might as well use the library!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. kozbisa says:

    This is good information. I like to borrow audiobooks and ebooks, and seldom visit one of the three libraries in my town. However, the online selection is not amazing. It’s good to know I could pay a yearly fee and get access to another state’s library. My daughter is in school in NC, and their electronic library is regionalize resulting in such a great selection of books.


    • Krysta says:

      That’s the one trouble. My local library doesn’t currently have a great selection of e-books, so sometimes I scroll through them and don’t really see anything I want. However, it’s pretty cool that certain libraries will give you a free card if you’re anywhere in the state! And a yearly fee otherwise isn’t a bad deal. Even if you pay $50, by the time you check out a couple books you’re already saving money.


  3. ashley says:

    A lot of libraries also offer delivery services for people who can’t leave their homes. I have a BPL eCard and even though I am able to visit my local libraries it comes in handy if there’s a long wait list for an eBook that my consortium has, I can always see if BPL has it and if the wait list is shorter. A lot of times I’ll put a hold on the same book in my consortium and BPL.


    • Krysta says:

      Ooh, good point! I know that some libraries offer homebound services, but I wasn’t quite sure how they handle giving out cards to people who are homebound. But it definitely makes sense to call your local library and see what they can do for you–if they’ll let you email or fax copies of your identification documents, for instance.


  4. Wendy @ Falconer's Library says:

    The Washington County Cooperative Library System in the suburbs of Portland, OR started doing this in October of this year. It’s awesome for my middle school students. It works for audiobooks and ebooks, so there are sometimes issues with access. They can also bring in their school id to a library and get a full access card with that alone–no parent signatures, no addressed envelopes to prove residency.


    • Krysta says:

      That sounds wonderful! Currently my library system still requires the parent signature for a card, but they bring the forms to the schools for the kids to bring home. This way, at least the parent doesn’t have to come in to the library with the child to show their ID and other papers. That can be a problem for working parents sometimes.


  5. Books, Vertigo and Tea says:

    I am working from the phone so i apologize if this was already mentioned above, but Portland Public libraries are now working on offering this as well. I received an email from Multnomah County Library the other day regarding the option requests cards online. I have not looked at the process though as we all have one. But I will soon out of curiosity I am sure. As someone who is immoble part of the time now, I love this!


  6. Zeee @ I Heart Romance & YA says:

    I use the Los Angeles Public Library all the time and I love that they let you recommend books if they don’t have it in their system. And I’m also pretry lucky that they have a VAST selection of physical and digital books!

    Also, those libraries offering a $50/year annual fee is pretty awesome. I belong to an online book club and they have said some of their ounlic libraries don’t have a lot of digital selections.


    • Krysta says:

      Cool! I have recommended books to my library, but they don’t always buy them. 😦 I appreciate that they take recommendations, though, and I know they probably don’t take all primarily because of their budget restraints.

      Yeah, $50 can be a steep price for some. But, if you think about it, a new book could be $25. So once you check out two books you’re already saving money.


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