Who can get a library card?

First things first. We’re going on an adventure together! When you step foot in a library, you’re probably going to want the full experience. The books — or at the very least a book — will want to come home with you. Let’s get things squared away in advance, shall we?

Free Library of Philadelphia locations are open to the public, but you’ll need a library card to access a lot of what the library offers. Lots of people can get cards for free, and people from outside the area can pay for a card.

Free membership

There are two main groups for free membership.

  • People who live, work, go to school, or pay taxes in Philadelphia
  • Pennsylvania residents

$50/year membership

Don’t meet one of the above? People who live in other states can get a Philadelphia Free Library card for $50/year. This can be a bargain for anyone who uses everything the library has to offer.

Get your own library card

You can apply online, apply in person, or carry a paper application into a branch. Get all the details here.

Then get borrowing!

5 thoughts on “Who can get a library card?


    Recently, my partner and I have taken up collecting library cards (we’re at 3 each) because it gets you more access to more stuff. Other people I tell about this are absolutely floored that, in most places, you can get a library card as a non-resident. It is always worth any nominal fee charged, public librarians are not exactly out to make a profit (though truthfully, if they were, I’d sign up just as fast -I trust them to do good shit with my money). So thanks for spreading this important and useful information!

    I can’t wait for you to get to my childhood library someday! In fact, I was recently discussing your project with another transplant from Philly, and we spent a great moment together reminiscing about our time spent there, as well as at the monumentally important strip mall across the street. It was a fabulous little walk down memory lane, so I have to thank you for returning the image of a white and neon green library card to my mind.

    1. Yeah! I can only imagine how many PA residents don’t know they can get a Philadelphia library card. We have such an incredible set of online resources.

      I’m so looking forward to visiting your childhood library, and especially checking out the neighborhoods I don’t know very well. Plus, of course, any and all nearby strip malls of significance.

  2. I’m so siked to be going on this journey with you. I’m a library lover & I’ve come to appreciate them for the gems they are. I lived in this area in the 90s, so this was my local branch. Although I didn’t visit much back then, I’ve more than made up for it this year. I’d stop in 2x a week before class to kill time between work & bootcamp. I just wish I’d known there was a bean bag!!

    1. I’m so happy to have you with me! Libraries truly are some of the best places. And I can imagine how it would’ve been hard to find the bean bag – it’s tucked back in one of the cubby-type areas that has graphic novels in it.

  3. Briana, this tour is epic! As you make the rounds, I encourage you to read this article from the publication American Educator, if you haven’t already. The William Penn Foundation sought in 1986 to give *everyone* in Philadelphia updated access to print & technology with an enormous (by library standards) system-wide grant. The results have been very interesting. Enjoy! (From a Delco librarian : ) https://www.aft.org/sites/default/files/periodicals/Neuman_0.pdf

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