How do I get a library card?

Below are some basic steps. You might do them in a slightly different order, depending on your situation.

Find a public library near you.

Your local public library will be listed in the yellow pages, or you can call 411 (“Information”) to get the address. You might also try asking at a local community center. A list of public libraries in California, listed by city with addresses and phone numbers, is available online at: A list of public libraries in California, listed in alphabetical order by library name, with web links, is available at:

Bring a photo ID and proof of your current address.

    If you have a California state ID or driver license, you can use it as both your photo ID and proof of address.
    If you don’t have a California state ID or driver license, use any 2 of the following (1 must be a photo ID, and 1 must have your current address): U.S. passport, school ID, any government-issued ID, employee ID, a personal check, credit card statement, rental or property tax receipt, utility bill, or postmarked business mail sent to you at your home address.
    If you don’t have a photo ID: California law says that everyone in the state should have access to public libraries.[238] For this reason, many libraries will make an exception to the photo ID rule. Depending on where you live, your local library may accept a prison ID card, or some other official document with your name and address on it.[239] To find out if the public library in your area accepts other types of identification, call or visit the library and explain your situation.

Fill out a library card application form.

Ask a librarian for the form, fill it out, and turn it in. The librarian will check your ID and proof of address, process your application, and give you your new library card. The card and processing should be FREE.


    Keep an open mind and enjoy yourself! Don’t be afraid to ask for help from librarians — they are there to help you find books and resources, and use the computers.Take care of any materials you borrow, and keep track of due dates — to be respectful, and to avoid being fined (libraries charge late fees if you return materials past their due date).If you’re using library computers, give yourself extra time in case you have to wait for an open one.Many libraries offer free classes and programs like literacy programs, computer skills classes, etc. Ask a librarian for a list!
  1. 238

    Cal. Veh. Code § 18701.

  2. 239

    E-mail from David Cismowski, Chief, State Library Services (Jan. 15, 2015, 04:48 PST) (on file with author).