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Somerville & Beyond
Frequently Asked Questions
  1. What do I need to do to get a library card?
  2. What is necessary for library transactions (e.g., checking out materials, paying fines, inquiring about what materials are on a library card, renewing materials, checking on the status and titles of reserves, etc.)?
  3. How many times may I renew an item?
  4. Sometimes I am told that my card is "blocked," and that I cannot use it until it is cleared. What does this mean?
  5. When I reserve an item from another library, why can’t I use someone else’s card to check it out?
  6. If I am up to my renewal limit on an item, but I still need the item, when can I check it out again?

  1. What do I need to do to get a library card?
  2. Cards may be obtained only in person. The library does not issue cards by mail.

    Adults need to bring a photo I.D. and proof of street address/residency (no P.O. Boxes!), e.g., Mass. ID, driver's license, bills in their name, canceled mail in their name, checkbook, etc.). NOTE: Leases are no longer accepted as proof of residence. We can mail out a postcard for address verification purposes, if needed.

    If under the age of 18, a patron with a school photo I.D. needs to present that, plus proof of street address/residency (no P.O. Boxes!). We can mail out a postcard for address verification purposes, if needed.

    If under the age of 18 but with no photo I.D., a parent's or legal guardian's signature is required, by mail or in person (if in person, the parent or guardian must present a photo I.D. and proof of street address/residency). Non-parental relatives, friends, or neighbors who are not the legal guardian cannot grant permission in order to get a card for someone else's child. Please note: A child must be at least 5 years of age , and must be present in the library at the time of issue, in order to be able to acquire a library card at the Somerville Public Library.
  3. What is necessary for library transactions (e.g., checking out materials, paying fines, inquiring about what materials are on a library card, renewing materials, checking on the status and titles of reserves, etc.)?
  4. A valid, active library card - or a photo I.D. of the transacting patron - , and an account in good standing are required at all times for circulation transactions. There are no exceptions to this rule, regardless of age, profession, title, place of work, or familiarity with the library and/or its staff.
  5. How many times may I renew an item?
  6. Print materials (other than "Speed Read" and ILL titles) may be renewed up to two times, providing that there are not specific reserves on the items. The same renewal limits apply to cassettes, CDs, and audiotapes. We do not renew videotapes, DVDs, or CD-ROMs. If you acquire an item from another library in the Minuteman network, we may renew the item with the same restrictions applying as cited above. Items acquired via library loan outside the Minuteman network (ILLs) are not renewable.
  7. Sometimes I am told that my card is "blocked," and that I cannot use it until it is cleared. What does this mean?
  8. In the Minuteman Network, if you have $5.00 or more in overdue fines, or one or more items that are overdue for 30 days or more, your card is unusable until the fines, and/or the overdue(s), are cleared.
  9. When I reserve an item from another library, why can’t I use someone else’s card to check it out?
  10. When an item is reserved, its barcode is automatically "locked" onto the library card number with which it has been requested. This means that the system will not allow the item to be checked onto any other card. This is to ensure that no other patron erroneously gets the item that has been reserved specifically for you.

    Unfortunately, by law we cannot - at the request of a different patron - "look up" the account on which the card has been reserved, regardless of any relationship to the patron. We also cannot check out materials to another person's account without his or her library card, or - if the transacting patron is present - that patron's official photo I.D.

  11. If I am up to my renewal limit on an item, but I still need the item, when can I check it out again?
  12. The item must be returned for at least 24 hours of shelf time in order to allow other patrons a chance to come across it.