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Austin Public Library offers 'enhanced' library cards for Austinites who need photo IDs

The back of a person in between two rows of bookshelves
Sheryl Wong for KUT
The Austin Public Library is now offering "enhanced" library cards to people who may benefit from having another form of photo ID.

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The Austin Public Library is now offering "enhanced" library cards to people who may benefit from having another form of photo ID.

The cards can be used the same as standard library cards to check out materials at all APL locations, as well as to access eBooks and other resources online.

However, they will also be accepted by more than a dozen local agencies and organizations — including Austin Police, Austin Energy and Austin Public Health — as a valid or supplemental form of identification.

A full list of those agencies and organizations can be found here.

Library spokesperson Baylor Johnson told KUT the cards are available to any Austin resident over 18.

"This is the card that is available to anyone, including current Austin Public Library card holders," he said. "But we also know that there are certain vulnerable populations — such as those experiencing homelessness, formerly incarcerated individuals, immigrant communities — who, for one reason or another, may not have access to the normal paperwork used to obtain some of the more standard forms of state-issued photo ID."

Stock image of two library cards with a dark background
Austin Public Library
The new library cards include the holder’s library card number, photograph, address, date of birth, the expiration date and a scannable barcode.

A press release from the library noted that for many Austin residents, the lack of a government-issued identification can have a negative impact on their quality of life.

"IDs are often required for housing, education, healthcare, banking, and the lack of an ID may also deter individuals from reporting crimes," the release stated.

"We wanted to launch with a really broad array of services that this card would give people access to," Johnson said. "But we certainly are always looking to expand the number of places where this card can be recognized."

Several other Texas library systems — including San Antonio, San Marcos, Harris County and Dallas — have established similar programs over the past few years.

"Enhanced" library cards are currently available at the following Austin Public Library locations:

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

The library said it will evaluate the program after an initial pilot phase, looking into additional groups to accept the cards. More information about the new cards can be found on the library's website.

Kailey Hunt is KUT's Williamson County reporter. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @KaileyEHunt.
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