Austin Public Library launches Enhanced Library Card pilot program

The Austin Public Library launched a pilot program for Enhanced Library Cards.

The card would have the cardholder’s photo, and would be accepted by many local agencies and organizations as a valid form of identification. It could also be a new card option for library users who might benefit from another form of photo ID. 

The APL Enhanced Library Card is a full-access library card for Austin residents 18 or older that includes the holder’s library card number, photograph, address, date of birth, the expiration date, and a scannable barcode. 

The card can be used the same as a standard library card to check out materials at all APL locations, as well as online to access eBooks and other digital resources, and is also recognized by many other City of Austin departments and local organizations as a valid form of identification, or supplement with other documents to prove one’s identity. 

Several other Texas library systems have established similar Enhanced Library Card programs over the last few years, including San Antonio, San Marcos, Harris County, and Dallas. 

Last July, the Austin Library Commission passed a recommendation calling on the City to establish an Enhanced Library Card program. Austin City Council Member Vanessa Fuentes introduced a budget amendment for the current fiscal year dedicating $12,000 for equipment to establish the pilot program. 

APL staff worked with the City of Austin Equity Office and other City departments and local organizations to ensure the cards met their requirements in order to secure broad community recognition of the Enhanced Library Card as a valid identification, granting cardholders access to a wide array of services. 

As of May 1, Austin Public Library has obtained confirmation from multiple City departments – including Austin Police Department, Austin Energy, and Austin Public Health – as well as over a dozen community organizations that they will accept the Enhanced Library Card as a valid form of identification. 

A full list of City departments and local organizations currently accepting the Enhanced Library Card as a form of ID is available here

During the initial pilot program, Enhanced Library Cards will be available at three APL locations:

  • Little Walnut Creek Branch, 835 W. Rundberg Ln.
  • St. John Branch, 7500 Blessing Ave.
  • Southeast Branch, 5803 Nuckols Crossing Rd.

APL will gather feedback from the community during the pilot phase, with the intention of further refining the cards, identifying potential additional partners to accept the cards, and expanding the program to additional locations in the future.