Circulation Policy



To obtain borrowing privileges, applicants must provide verification of identity and eligibility. Full or limited borrowing privileges may be granted, depending on residence and the identification provided. 

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

Full Borrowing Privileges – Nonresident. Adult and minor applicants who: 

  • Work in the City of St. Louis and have documentation proving this. Additional 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 

These library cards are valid for one year. 

Limited Borrowing Privileges Adult applicants without photo identification or without a permanent address are eligible for limited checkout of two physical items, access to digital collections, and computer use. These library cards are valid for one year. 


Individuals under the age of 18 (minors) need permission from a legal guardian to obtain a library card. 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. 

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 being present if the child has appropriate documentation from the parent/guardian and the parent’s/guardian’s signature on the library card application. Parents/guardians may choose a restricted or unrestricted card for each child. 

Restricted: checkout only of juvenile materials, which includes print items, DVDs, CDs, and electronic resources. 

Unrestricted: full library privileges, including checkout of all circulating materials and electronic resources. 

Full Internet privileges may be granted by the parent/guardian for either category of borrowing privileges. 

People whose permanent address is outside of the St. Louis metro area and do not qualify for a free card may purchase a membership from the Friends of the St. Louis Public Library. 

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. 
  • Company: Businesses in the City of St. Louis are eligible for up to four cards for employees per department. Businesses outside of the city will be charged a fee.
  •  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.
  • eCards: People eligible for free 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 an eCard through the Library’s website. It may not be used for reserving Library computers. These privileges can be converted to a personal library card by showing identification with name and address at any SLPL library location.
  • Computer Pass: People not eligible for a free library card may obtain a computer pass for access to the Library’s internet computers. The pass may be used for reserving computer use for up to three hours per day. 


Most cardholders may borrow up to 75 items. The total includes limits on certain item types. Temporary cardholders may borrow 2 items. Loan periods, checkout limits, and renewals may vary according to item type, but are generally seven days or 21 days. Materials may only be renewed if no other customer has placed a hold on the item. 


Overdue fines 

The library does not charge overdue fines. Materials checked out will be automatically renewed until (1) they reach the maximum renewals listed in the chart above; (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 a 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 or exceed $50. At that amount, a collection agency is used to recover overdue materials and fees. Having any balance on an account does not result in the loss of any other library privileges. 

  • Liability for items checked out due to fraudulent use of a lost or stolen library card may be limited to $50 if the owner of the card reports the card lost within 30 days after an item becomes overdue. 
  • At 42 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. At approximately 60 days, accounts with charges of $50 or more may be sent to a collection agency in an attempt to recover lost materials and fees. A $10 nonrefundable collection-agency fee will be placed on the account. 
  • If assumed-lost materials sent to collections are returned, the replacement cost will be removed from the account, but the $10 collection agency fee will remain. 

Lost library card 

A $1.00 fee may be charged to replace a lost library card. 


  • Van Service: The Adult Outreach Department oversees mobile outreach that provides limited library services to residents of senior citizen group residences and social service agencies. Locations may receive monthly or twice-monthly visits. 
  • Books By Mail: This is a service available to residents of the city of St. Louis who are confined to their homes or residence because of a physical disability, extended illness, or advanced age. The free service is offered to homebound customers who have no one to pick up Library materials for them and who do not live at a Library Outreach delivery site. Up to twenty books at a time can be requested and are delivered to the readers and returned by the United States Postal Service. 
  • Interlibrary Loan (ILL): Materials not owned by the Library may be borrowed from other libraries through ILL. The service is offered free of charge, and customers may have five ILL requests or checkouts at any one time. Loan periods, renewal policies, overdue fines, and replacement fees are set by the libraries supplying the items.
    (Revised 11/2/2020)
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