Using the Library

One of the most important cards in your wallet, your Berks County Public Libraries card is the gateway to thousands of resources available at no cost to you. Available to anyone who lives, works, or goes to school in Berks County, this one card allows you to borrow materials from any of the 23 member library locations.

 

Library card and account information

Library cards are considered active so long as they are used once within 3 years. Accounts will be deleted after 7 years of inactivity. Every 3 years, you will be asked to verify your address with your library to keep your account information current.

If you need to change your home library due to a recent move, you will need to go to your new home library and request the change be made to your account. Changing your pick up location in your account will not change your registered home library.

Accounts may be suspended and library card blocked when items are lost or money is owed. Causes for blocked cards include:

  • If $10.00 or more is accrued in fees. For adult cards associated with a juvenile account, the $10.00 will include the sum of all charges associated with both accounts.
  • When there are fees from a previous calendar year (All accounts must be paid in full by the end of each calendar year before items may be borrowed in a new calendar year).
  • When there are 4 or more items with a status of ‘claimed returned’

Cardholders wishing to clear their account should contact their home library.

 

Shared countywide catalog: renew items and place holds

Search the shared countywide catalog by using the Search option at the top of the page. It defaults to the catalog automatically, but you can browse the catalog directly by selecting the Take me to the Catalog option in the search bar. Learn more about placing holds, renewing items, and other catalog features.

 

Electronic resources

Your library card allows you to borrow eBooks and audiobooks from the digital library branch along with accessing digital research databases. Information and access links about the library's research and eBook resources is available using the main navigation bar at the top of the page.

 

View the Berks County Public Libraries Borrowing Policies

This policy is currently being revised to align with the recent decision for Berks County Public Libraries to go fine free.

 

Full-service library card

Anyone who lives, works, or attends school in Berks County is eligible to receive a full-service library card. Cardholders can access and borrow physical materials including but not limited to books, DVDs, CDs, audiobooks, museum passes, etc. Cardholders can also can access countywide digital services and any specialty resources provided by their home library including Libby/OverDrive and Ancestry.com. Cardholders can also request Inter-Library Loan (ILL) materials available from libraries outside Berks County.

 

Limited-service library card

Pennsylvania residents who hold a valid library card from an out–of-county library or a State library card are eligible to receive a limited-service card for Berks County Public Libraries. Cardholders can borrow physical materials at any BCPL location (with the exception of Library of Things) but cannot borrow digital media types such as Overdrive/Libby, Hoopla, RB Digital, etc. A limited-service card also does not give access to the ACCESS PA Statewide Library Card program or give the ability to utilize ILL to request materials from libraries outside Berks County.

 

I work/go to school in Berks County. How do I get a full-service card?

You will need to bring proof of your current place of employment or school to apply for a full-service library card. This could include a pay stub with your work location's address or a student ID. If you have a question about another form of verification, please reach out to your registered library.

All libraries of the Berks County Public Library System are fine free for traditional materials including books, DVDs, CDs, and audiobooks on tape owned by system-member libraries.

Select materials are still subject to fines based on the unique nature of those items. Fines are calculated by calendar day when the item's owning library is open.

 

Items Incurring Fines

  • Museum passes
  • Inter-Library Loans (ILLs) owned by a library outside of the Berks County Public Library System
  • Equipment such as hotspots, tablets, eBook readers, etc.
  • Library of Things materials

 

Fees 

Long-overdue items will be marked LOST and are subject to fees regardless of their fine free status. Fees can include the replacement cost of the item along with an administrative fee. 

  • For lost/damaged card: no charge (both adult and juvenile)
  • For lost/damaged museum pass: $15.00
  • For all other lost/damaged items: Replacement value plus a $5.00 Administrative Fee

 

Credits for lost items

Credits may be given for lost materials which were previously paid for, if the materials are found and returned in good condition to the library within 60 days.

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.

 

Returning Items

You may return items inside the library when it is open or in the library’s bookdrop when the library is closed. Items put in the bookdrop are checked in the next business day using the previous business day’s date. Therefore, an item that is due one day but checked in from the bookdrop the next morning is not considered overdue and will not be assessed a fine.

Generally, you may return items checked out from a Berks County Public Libraries (BCPL) member library at that library, or at any other member library (See libraries and locations). All public libraries in Berks County are members of BCPL except the Wyomissing Public Library and Oley Valley Community Library. Standard items checked out at any Berks County Public Library may be returned either to the Wyomissing Public Library or Oley Valley Community Library. Deliveries to and from Oley Valley Community Library and Wyomissing Public Library occur on a weekly basis.

The following types of items are exceptions to that general rule and must be returned to the library from which they were checked out:

  • Museum passes

  • Video games

  • Library of Things materials

  • Interlibrary loan items obtained from outside the Berks County Public Libraries system

 

Overdue Notices

Cardholders are notified when items checked out become delinquent. This applies for all adult and juvenile materials. A billing invoice is sent if, after 2 overdue notices, the items have not been returned. Section 6708 of Title 18, Pennsylvania Code makes it a summary offense to retain library property after being notified to return it.