Library Card Registration:
To borrow materials from a System library, a person must register for a library card. Berks County residents are eligible to register for a library card without fee. Applicants must present proper proof of residency and identity and complete and sign a library card application in which the applicant agrees to accept responsibility for all fines, fees, or charges incurred.
Pennsylvania residents who hold a valid library card from an out-of-county library, or a State library card, are eligible for a BCPL library card without fee. Such non-residents of Berks County are required to register and provide proof of identity in the same manner as county residents.
Non-residents of Berks County who don’t have a valid out-of-county library card may be issued a borrower card upon payment of a $40 annual fee and upon providing proof of identity in the same manner as county residents. This card can be used only at BCPL libraries. The State Library will be the “library of last resort” for all state residents. If a non-resident refuses to pay the $40 non-resident fee because s/he doesn’t have a home library, that person can be referred to state library. To register for a State Library card, call the Bureau of the State Library in Harrisburg. The general office number is 717-787-2646. The State library card can be presented to a BCPL library in order to obtain a BCPL card at no cost.
Borrower Card Information:
Identity and Residency Requirements:
Each library will issue a borrower card, without fee, to any Berks County resident upon provision of proof of identity (photo ID) and residency. Documents accepted to verify address include auto registration, recent utility bills, voter registration cards, lease/rental agreements, etc.
Adult cards are issued to persons 18 years of age or older.
Juvenile cards are issued to resident children, age 17 and under (there is no minimum age requirement), with parental/guardian signature and parent's/guardian's photo ID and proof of address. Patron birth date will be requested on juvenile borrower registration forms.
Borrowers must present a valid library card in order to check out materials and to use library computer resources. Cardholders are responsible for any fines or fees, and for any lost or damaged items borrowed on their card. Parents or guardians are legally responsible for the fines/fees for children under 18 years of age. Card holders agree to abide by the BCPL policies and to report address, telephone or email changes, or the loss of their card, immediately.
Library cards are valid for use at all BCPL member libraries, Reading Area Community College, and the Council on Chemical Abuse. Registered borrowers also may use their library barcode number to access library databases from home, to check their library borrowing record, and to place holds on library materials.
Revocation of Library Privileges:
Library privileges will be suspended when:
- there are accumulated charges of $10.00 or more
- there are fines and fees from a previous calendar year (All debts must be paid in full by the end of a calendar year before items may be borrowed in a new calendar year.)
- there are 4 or more items out with a status of ‘claimed returned’
Borrower Card Terms:
A borrower card is valid until it expires. If a borrower card is not used for 3 years, it expires, and can be revalidated by library staff. Borrower card records are purged after 7 years of non-use, if there are no fees or fines. Borrower cards with fees or fines are never purged.
Borrower Rights and Privileges
- 21 days - audio materials, books, DVD sets, e-Book Readers and magazines
- 7 days - DVDs, VHS tapes and Museum passes
Most materials, unless on reserve for another patron, may be renewed for an additional loan period (7 or 21 days, depending on the item.) Nonrenewable items include DVD sets, e-Book Readers and NEW materials.
Items may be renewed at the library, via the library website, or by phone. The borrower's barcode number is required for telephone renewals. Renewals of a library's own materials are a local option; renewals for another library's materials must follow the system-wide policy stated above.
Placing a Hold (or Request/Reserve)
If an item is not available or is owned by another BCPL library, library card holders can place a hold (request/reserve) on the item at the circulation desk or online. You will be notified when the item arrives. Items that are put on hold (requested/reserved) may be picked up at any BCPL library that was specified when the hold was placed. The exception is NEW items, which must be picked up at the owning library. Held items must be picked up within 7 days of notification. This time limit varies for some libraries.
Patrons are responsible for returning library materials on time. Overdue fines are calculated by calendar day:
- Audio, books & VHS tapes - $ .10/day ($5.00 maximum)
- DVDs, DVD sets & e-Book Readers - $ .50/day ($10.00 maximum)
- Magazines - $ .10/day ($2.00 maximum)
- Museum passes, Interlibrary Loan items - $ .50/day
- DVDs, DVD sets & e-Book Readers - $.50/day ($10.00 maximum)
- There are no fines on juvenile audio, books, magazines, or VHS tapes
- For DVDs, overdue notices are sent 3, 17, and 31 days after an item is due. A billing notice is sent after 45 days.
- For all other items, overdue notices are sent 7, 21, and 35 days after an item is due. A billing notice is sent after 49 days.
- For lost/damaged card: $2.00 (both adult and juvenile)
- For lost/damaged museum pass: $15.00
- For all other lost/damaged items: Replacement value + $5.00 processing fee
Refunds for Lost Items:
Refunds may be given for lost material, which was previously paid for, if the material is found and returned to the library within 60 days. Maximum fines (if applicable) and processing fees will be deducted.
Returns and Book Drop Policy
Most items belonging to any Berks County public library may be returned at any Berks County public library. Exceptions include museum passes, e-book readers, video games, and items borrowed from outside the BCPL system. Book drops are available at each library for the return of materials when the library is closed.