Circulation Policy


Full and Limited Privilege Cards
To obtain borrowing privileges, applicants must provide verification of identity (photo ID) and eligibility (proof of address). Full or limited borrowing privileges may be granted, depending on residence and the identification provided. 

Full Borrowing Privileges – Resident
These Library cards are valid for two years and are for those residing in, or owning property in, the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, or St. Charles County. Adult applicants who meet residency or property owner requirements and provide photo identification and proof of current address are eligible for full borrowing privileges. 

Full Borrowing Privileges – Nonresident
These Library cards are valid for one year. They are for applicants who: 

  • Work in the City of St. Louis. 
  • Identification showing proof of City employment is required annually, such as the most recent paycheck stub showing city earnings and taxes paid, or an employee badge or ID showing the employee name and the business name
  • Attend school in the City of St. Louis and live in the Missouri counties of Franklin, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Warren, or in the Illinois counties of Clinton, Jersey, Madison, Monroe, and St. Clair. Additional identification is required annually that shows proof of City school attendance, such as student school ID, current report card or transcripts, or a dated letter from school on letterhead 

A child must be present to receive a Library card, and parents/guardians must provide identification for themselves. A Library card may be issued without a parent/guardian present in the following circumstances: if the card is issued through a school contracted with the Library to provide student e-cards and the parent/guardian does not opt out; if a paper application is sent to parents/guardians through school and the parent/guardian returns the signed form; or if a minor whose parent/guardian is unable to visit the Library takes home a paper application which is then signed by the parent, and the minor returns to the Library with their own identification and proof of address. 

Parents and guardians are financially responsible for any loss of, or damage to, materials borrowed using their minor children’s Library cards. They also have the responsibility for determining which Library materials their children may access. In granting permission, parents/guardians acknowledge that all Library materials will be available to their minor children. To limit access, parents may request that their minor’s card be restricted to check out only items from the children’s collection.

Individuals under the age of 18 (minors) need permission from a legal guardian to obtain any of the above Library card types. The legal guardian assumes responsibility for items, fees, and use of the minor’s Library card. Exceptions are made for people who are at least 16 years of age and:

  • Are emancipated or no longer live in the home of a parent or legal guardian, and have documentation proving this, or 
  • Are signing as the parent/guardian for their child’s Library card, or 
  • Are legally married, and have documentation proving this.

Limited Borrowing Privileges
These Library cards are valid for one year. Applicants who would otherwise qualify for the card types listed above, but are without photo identification or without a permanent address, are eligible for limited checkout of two physical items, access to digital collections, and computer use. One form of identification must be provided.

Other Card Types 

  • Education/Nonprofit: Employees of schools, daycare centers, senior citizen residences, shelters, and social service agencies in the City of St. Louis are eligible for borrowing privileges designed to provide service to students and residents at those facilities. Some item types may not circulate to these facilities. These cards are valid for one year.
  • Company: Businesses in the City of St. Louis are eligible for up to four cards for employees per department. These cards are valid for one year.
  • eCard: Those eligible for borrowing privileges who have never had an SLPL Library card or those who want access to only digital content and online services may apply for eCards through the Library’s website. These cards are valid for two years and are available to those 18 and older via our online application. These privileges can be converted to a Library card with full borrowing privileges by showing photo identification and proof of address at any Library location.
  • Student eCard: Minors who attend school in the City of St. Louis, whose school has a valid MOU with the Library, and whose parents/guardians have been notified and given the opportunity to opt-out, are eligible for a Student eCard that provides access to digital content and online services. These cards are valid for one year and may not be used for reserving Library computers. Email to apply.
  • Computer Pass: Those not eligible for a Library card may obtain a computer pass for access to the Library’s internet computers. The pass is valid for one month and may be used only for reserving computers.
  • Friends Membership: Those whose permanent address is outside of the St. Louis metro area have the option to become a Friend of the St. Louis Public Library through a donation. One of the benefits of being a Friend is a one-year Library card. 
  • Courtesy: Borrowing privileges may be granted to visitors or guests of the Library by the Chief Executive Officer or a designate, who will determine the expiration date.

Most cardholders may borrow up to 100 items. Those with limited borrowing privileges may borrow two items. Loan periods, checkout limits, and number of renewals vary according to item type, but are generally 21 days. Materials may generally be renewed if no other customer has placed a hold on the item and if the item has not reached the maximum number of renewals.


Overdue materials
The Library does not charge overdue fines. Materials checked out will be automatically renewed until (1) they reach the maximum number of renewals; (2) they are on hold for someone else; or (3) the customer’s account has a balance over $50. 

Lost and damaged items
Fees for lost or damaged items include the cost of replacing the item. Fees may be forgiven if the loss or damage of Library materials was caused by fire, flood, or theft; a copy of a police, fire, or insurance report that supports the loss is required. Checkout is allowed until charges reach $50. Having any balance on an account does not result in the loss of any other Library privileges, including computer reservations and wifi usage. 

Liability for items checked out due to fraudulent use of a Library card (by someone other than the cardholder) may be limited to $50 if the owner of the card reports the card lost within 30 days after an item becomes overdue. 

At 60 days late, most overdue materials are assumed lost and the replacement cost is billed to the account. If the assumed-lost materials are returned, the replacement cost will be removed from the account.

Lost library card
A $1 fee may be charged to replace a lost Library card. 

Materials not owned by the Library may be borrowed from other libraries through ILL. The service is offered to city residents and property owners; other cardholders should contact their home libraries about ILL services. Customers may have five ILL requests and five ILL items checked out at any one time. Renewal policies, overdue fines, and replacement fees are set by the libraries supplying the items.

Adopted by the Board of Directors, July 10, 2023


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