Library Card and Borrowing Policy

I. Philosophical Statement [sta_anchor ID="1"]

Ocean State Libraries and its member libraries operate according to relevant American Library Association (ALA) ethical and philosophical statements for public libraries.

II. Library Card Eligibility and ID Requirements [sta_anchor ID="2"]

A. Eligibility [sta_anchor ID="2a"]

Any person who lives in or pays property taxes in Rhode Island or who is currently employed by Ocean State Libraries (OSL) or by an OSL member library is eligible to receive an OSL library card from the public library of his/her choice free of charge. One card is allowed per eligible borrower. Use of an Ocean State Libraries card is non-transferrable, i.e., can only be used by the person whose name appears on the card.

B. Required Information on Library Card Applications [sta_anchor ID="2b"]
  • Full Name (First, Middle initial, and Last)
  • Mailing Address
  • Phone or email or both
  • Birth date
  • Guardian Full name (if applicant is under 13)
C. ID Requirements [sta_anchor ID="2c"]

When applying for an Ocean State Libraries card, an applicant must show proof that he/she lives or pays property taxes in the State of Rhode Island.

To apply for a card, any applicant aged 13 and over may provide only one piece of identification if it is 1 of the following valid Rhode Island State IDs:

  • Current Rhode Island driver's license (if address is not current, current address must be written on the back as provided for on the license)
  • Current Rhode Island State ID
  • Current Photo learner's permit

Alternatively, if the above-mentioned ID cannot be provided, one (1) form of photo identification may be presented along with any one (1) form of proof of residency (documents should be current):

Photo Identification

Must have name and photo.

Proof of Residency

Must match name on photo I.D. presented and contain full Rhode Island address. 

Examples: Examples:
  • Passport
  • Current Armed Services ID
  • Current Driver’s license from another state
  • Student I.D.
  • Bus Pass (must have photo)
  • Work I.D. (must have photo)
  • Current college or university photo ID card
  • Current employee photo ID card
  • Rhode Island welfare ID card
  • Alien Registration photo ID card
  • Professional, vocational or union photo ID
  • ID card issued by any federally recognized tribal government
  • Personal or payroll check
  • Cable, phone or utility bill
  • Valid Green Card
  • Rental Lease
  • Proof of mailing (any piece of mail delivered by the US Post Office)
  • Report Card
  • Tax Bill or receipt
  • Bus Pass (must have address)
  • Class schedule
  • Statement from a homeless or other shelter
  • Bank statement
D. Young Adult Borrowers [sta_anchor ID="2d"]

Students ages 13 to 17 may provide proof of their enrollment in a public or private school in Rhode Island (class schedule, transcript, report card, etc.) in lieu of a photo ID if they do not otherwise have one.  Proof of home address must still be provided if not stated on school enrollment documents.

Minors ages 13-17 may also have their application signed by their parent or guardian*, who may provide identification/address validation on the minor’s behalf.  Both the parent or guardian and the minor should be present to apply for a library card.

E. Juvenile Borrowers [sta_anchor ID="2e"]

Children aged 0-12 must have their application signed by a parent or guardian*, who may provide the above identification/address validation on their child's behalf.

Both the parent or guardian and the child should be present to apply for a library card.

*The parent/guardian is responsible for the lost or damaged materials borrowed by their child.

F. Applicants Unable to Make an In-Person Visit to the Library [sta_anchor ID="2f"]

Examples: Military personnel, homebound

  • Library card applicants who are unable to make an in-person visit to an OSL library may apply for their card via fax, postal mail, or OSL’s secure web site and elect to receive it in the mail. This does not apply to non-resident applicants.
  • Copies/images of the required forms of identification must accompany the application.
  • Once the application and required documents are received and processed, the library card will be mailed to the address specified by the cardholder.
  • Applications may be submitted in the following ways:

Ocean State Libraries
Attn: Cardholders Accounts
300 Centerville Rd
Summit South, Suite 103
Warwick, RI 02886

III. Lost or Stolen Library Cards[sta_anchor ID="3"]

When registering for an Ocean State Libraries card, the cardholder accepts responsibility for all items on the card, all use made of the card and all charges made against it until the card is reported lost. Therefore it is to the cardholder’s benefit to report the loss or theft of a library card immediately. The cost of replacing a lost or stolen library card is $1.00.

Report lost cards by phone, in person at any Library location, or by email sent to

IV. Expired Library Cards [sta_anchor ID="4"]

  • All library cards issued to residents expire and must be renewed at least every three years.
  • Expired cards must be renewed and validated before they can be used to borrow materials, download content from eZone, or at some libraries, to access library computers.
  • To renew a library card please make an in person visit to any OSL library. Proof of residency must be presented when renewing an expired library card.
  • Library cards may be renewed by phone for a one month extension. The cardholder is required to go to a physical library location to complete full renewal of the card and to update contact information.
  • Cardholders may choose to renew their cards without visiting a library by attaching images of their library card (barcode side) along with images of the required identification in the following ways;

Ocean State Libraries
Attn: Cardholders Accounts
300 Centerville Rd
Summit South, Suite 103
Warwick, RI 02886

  • Mail renewals must be accompanied by a completed Application form available on
  • Once the required documents are received and processed, the library card will be validated and renewed.

V. Cancelling or Withdrawing a Library Card [sta_anchor ID="5"]

Library cards may be withdrawn/cancelled if the requesting person is:

  • the cardholder
  • the guardian of the cardholder
  • a family member of a deceased cardholder with some form of proof of the cardholder’s passing
  • All library materials are returned.
  • All overdue fines, replacement charges or other charges are fully paid
  • All holds for materials are cancelled.

VI. Special Types of Library Cards [sta_anchor ID="6"]

A. Agency/Organizational Borrowers [sta_anchor ID="6a"]
  • Cards of this type are available only to organizations located in Rhode Island.
  • In order to receive an organizational borrower’s card, a brief letter of request on organizational letterhead must be submitted along with the completed application form. The authorized person who signs the application form must show identification and his/her name will be added to the record alongside the name of the organization.
  • The letter should include a list of authorized borrowers.
  • Only one account will be issued to any organization. The organization will be responsible for all materials borrowed. The library issuing the Agency card will retain the card at the circulation desk.
  • If the organization has a change of address or phone number, or the card is lost, the library must be notified immediately.
  • All regulations of Ocean State Libraries apply to the organizational borrower’s card.
  • Organizational cards are valid for one year, at which time a new request on letterhead is required with an updated list of authorized borrowers.
  • A person using the Organizational Library card must present proof of identification that matches one of the authorized borrowers’ names that was submitted with the application or renewal letter.

What qualifies as an organization: for-profit businesses, not-for-profit businesses, child daycare centers, adult daycare centers, nursing homes.

What does not qualify as an organization: public schools, municipalities.

B. Non-Resident Borrowers [sta_anchor ID="6b"]

Visitors from out-of-state or abroad are welcome to use the Ocean State Libraries public libraries’ resources on-site. Many of the resources accessed from the public libraries do not require the issuance of a library card.

i. Non-Resident Full Access Cards
  • Non-Resident Full Access cards are issued for 1 year and carry an annual fee equal to the cost of Rhode Island library service per cardholders, rounded up to the nearest $5. Currently for 2022, that fee is $200 and can be paid at any OSL library.
  • Only visitors who reside in a community that provides public library service to its residents may apply for a Non-Resident Full Access card.
  • Visitors may apply for a Non-Resident Full Access card using a current photo ID and if that does not include the applicant’s address, then he/she must provide a proof of address (not a P.O. Box.) All other registration procedures are applicable.
  • Non-Residents need to visit a library in-person to apply for a Full Access Card.
ii. Non-Resident Local Use Only Cards
  • At their sole discretion and policy, some libraries may issue Local Use Only cards to visitors. A visitor may have, at most, 1 Local Use Only card in the Ocean State Libraries database.
  • Local Use Only cards are issued for up to 3 years, at the discretion of the issuing library.
  • Local Use Only cards may be used to borrow materials from the issuing library only and may not be used to place holds from other OSL libraries.
  • If a Local Use Only card is issued from a library that has branch locations, a library staff person may place holds on the card for the borrower from other branch locations for that library and the issuing library may allow the borrower to use any of that library’s branch locations.
  • Local Use Only cards do not allow the borrower access to the Ocean State Libraries’ digital eZone site.

VII. Borrowing Privileges and Responsibilities [sta_anchor ID="7"]

Cardholders should present their library card when checking materials out from the library. Scanned library cards that are presented via a mobile device will be accepted at checkout.

  • Cardholders are responsible for all materials borrowed on their account, all use of the card and all charges made against it, until the card is reported lost to the Library.
  • All materials borrowed must be returned on or before the due date. OSL offers universal returns – most circulating material can be returned to any OSL public library location.
A. Renewals [sta_anchor ID="7a"]

Items that allow a renewal may be renewed if:

  • They are not on hold for other cardholders
  • They have not been renewed more than once
  • The cardholder does not have an item overdue for 7 days or more.
B. Fines and Replacement Charges [sta_anchor ID="7b"]
  • Fines are charged for items returned or renewed after their due date in accordance with the lending policy of the library that owns the material.
  • No loans will be made to cardholders that owe more than $10 in fines or with any lost or billed items checked out to them.
  • OSL libraries will accept payments for lost, unreturned, and overdue materials from any OSL member library.
  • Refunds on lost materials are subject to the policies of the owning library.
C. Library Notices [sta_anchor ID="7c"]

Ocean State Libraries provides a notification service for held items, overdue materials and other service-specific reasons.  Notices are available via telephone, mail or email.  Cardholders will have to select a notice preference and provide a valid telephone number or email address on their account. Borrowers may also elect to receive SMS Text Alerts on their mobile phone (this is in addition to the method by which notices are sent which is chosen at the time of application). Bills for overdue material will be sent to the mailing address on record at the Library. Cardholders will have to select a notice preference and to provide a valid telephone number or email address on their account. Additionally, it is the responsibility of the borrower to notify the Library if any of their contact information changes.

Note: In the case of borrowers who receive their notices by email, it is their responsibility to make sure that emails sent from addresses with in the sender information be allowed through any filters they may have in place on their Inbox.

Cardholders who have provided an email address will receive a Courtesy Notice reminding them of material due two (2) days before the due date. Failure to receive a reminder of items due notice does not absolve the borrower from any fines or fees associated with material being returned late.

Approved by the members of Ocean State Libraries May 4, 2016

Revision approved by the Steering Committee on January 19, 2017.

Revision approved by the members of Ocean State Libraries on May 4, 2017.

Revision approved by the members of Ocean State Libraries on February 1, 2018.

Revision approved by the Steering Committee on February 15, 2018.

Revision approved by the Steering Committee on July 18, 2019.