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Rare Books Research at NYPL: NYPL Card

Library Card Application

A NYPL Library Card is required to access all of the rare book collections. You can register for your library card in person at any local NYPL branch, or at the public service desk in the the Bill Blass Catalog Room located in Room 315 on the third floor of the Schwartzman Building. You may also initiate the registration process online at the NYPL website; you will be offered an application  based on whether you are a resident of New York City, New York State, or a visiting researcher.

General Rules

Any person who lives, works, attends school or pays property taxes in New York State is eligible to receive a New York Public Library card free of charge. Use of a New York Public Library card is non-transferrable, i.e., can only be used by the person whose name appears on the card.

The above status entitles you to one New York Public Library card. The Library will merge or delete the records of any user found to have multiple active cards.

Non-Residents (Visitors)

Visitors from out-of-state or abroad are welcome to use the Library’s resources on-site, many of which do not require the issuance of a library card. Non-residents may be issued a free temporary library card on-site, with a three month expiration date.

These card types are available to applicants who do not live, work, attend school or pay property taxes in the state of New York, who present an equivalent form of ID for their locality.

With the exception of a much sooner expiration date of up to three months from the date of issuance, all other registration procedures are applicable to the applicants.

Eligibility Requirements

When applying for a New York Public Library card in person, or providing proof of their identity to validate a card received in the mail, an applicant must show proof that he/she lives, works, attends school, or pays property taxes in New York State. To apply for a card:

Adults may provide only one piece of identification if it is 1 of the following valid New York State or City IDs:

  • Current driver's license
  • Current photo learner's permit
  • Current non-driver's identification (includes IDNYC)

Young Adults (ages 13-17) can show the same ID as adults. Alternatively, young adults may present of the following, provided name and address* are included in the documentation:

  • Current school photo ID
  • Current report or program card
  • Working papers

If the above documentation is not available, any 2 of the following forms of identification are acceptable for adults and/or young adults, provided one shows a photo and name and/or signature and the other the applicant's current address:

  • Current college or university photo ID card
  • Current employee photo ID card
  • New York City welfare ID card
  • Current Armed Services ID card
  • Alien Registration photo ID card
  • Matricula Consular (Mexican CID)
  • Current passport
  • Medicare/Medicaid card
  • Social Security card
  • Birth certificate
  • New York State motor vehicle registration
  • Professional, vocational or union photo ID
  • Current rent bill or lease agreement
  • Tax bill or receipt**
  • Transit pass
  • Current photo ID with signature and expiration date issued by an embassy or consulate in New York
  • Statement from a homeless shelter*
  • Bank statement**
  • Cable, phone or utility bill**
  • Any piece of mail delivered by the US Post Office**

*Note: Post office boxes are not accepted as mailing addresses. Proof of residence is required.

**Note: Any tax bills, rent receipts or statements from a homeless shelter used for verification of your identity must be dated no more than 2 months prior to the application date.

**Note: Any of the above must be dated within the last 2 months, as indicated by the postmark or date of printed e-bill.

The name and address provided to verify your identification must match the information entered on the application.

The same identification must also be presented when a change to the borrower’s address is made and when replacing a lost card. Cardholders are required to report change of name or address information promptly.