Registration Policy


Statement of Policy & Text

  • The City of San José offers free library cards to all California residents or property owners. San José State University students are also entitled to a card regardless of residency.
  • Public Library card applicants are asked to complete a library card application and agree to follow borrowing rules.
  • Library cards are only issued to applicants who are present in the library and who confirm their identification with library staff. A list of suggested documents for registration verification is available on the library's website. University borrowers’ information is downloaded from University records.
  • Each person can have only one active library card at any one time.
  • Public Library cards come up for renewal every four years, except for Limited Status Cards which expire in 30 days.
  • The library holds borrowers responsible for items checked out on their card, even if the use is unauthorized. If either part of a borrower’s card is lost or stolen, and they notify the library of that fact, they are not held responsible for items borrowed on their card after the notification date. Parents/guardians are held responsible for items checked out on their children’s cards.

Need for the Policy

In order to provide good customer service and to ensure that our information is accurate and up-to-date, it is important that the library follow a consistent policy for adding new borrowers to the database and issuing barcodes. This policy will serve to establish policy for registering library borrowers.

Requirements & Guidelines

Registration of Adult borrowers

  • Adults can obtain a standard library card if they are a California resident or own property in California and show photo ID and proof of current California address. This address can be a residence, business, or Post Office box, so long as the customer has proper print/digital verification of the address postmarked within 30 days.
  • If the customer submits an application with only their Post Office box number or business address, library staff also ask for their residence Zip Code for statistical purposes. It is optional to include the customer’s residence address in the appropriate field of the borrower record, if the customer agrees to give it.

Registration of San Jose Public Library Juvenile borrowers

  • The following rules apply to members of the general public, not to San Jose State University students.
  • Persons under 18 years of age can obtain a Juvenile library card if they have the approval of their parent or legal guardian or if they are an “emancipated minor”.
  • If a juvenile states that they are an emancipated minor and can show photo ID and proof of address, they should be issued a standard library card.
  • Parent or legal guardian must be present, present their photo ID and verification of current address, and agree to the borrowing rules in order for the juvenile to obtain a library card.
  • The parent or legal guardian whose information is entered into the juvenile’s record will be considered responsible for the juvenile’s materials, even in cases of shared custody.

Registration of Limited Status borrowers

  • Persons over 18 years of age who are not currently registered borrowers (including persons who are not California residents) can get a Limited Status library card by applying, showing photo identification, and having the information entered in the online catalog system.
  • Juveniles under 18 years of age may obtain a Limited Status library card if their parent or legal guardian accompanies them to the library, and the parent or guardian shows their photo identification. The juvenile's card may be updated to a regular Juvenile card if the parent presents the card and verification of address, or if the child presents the card and proof of address. It is not required that the parent bring the child to the library with them to have the card status changed.
  • Limited Status cards come up for renewal every thirty days. If the borrower still cannot show proof of current address at that time, the expiration date can be extended for thirty more days. There is no limit to the number of times the expiration date may be extended.
  • Limited Status cards can be converted to permanent cards when the customer shows photo ID and proof of current California address, or returns with verification of their name and the “Confirmation of Address” postcard sent to them by the Library.

Registration of Staff borrowers

  • Persons employed by the San Jose Public Library and San Jose State University library staff are eligible for Staff library cards as long as they are employed by the library.
  • SJSU faculty, faculty emeritus and staff are eligible for SJSU Staff library privileges.
  • All Library staff pay fines for overdue Public Library materials. Public Library staff pay fines for overdue University Library materials, but University Library faculty and staff members do not. All staff borrowers are responsible for lost or damaged items, and are expected to follow all other borrowing rules.

Replacement cards

  • Adults can obtain a replacement card by showing photo ID.
  • Juveniles can obtain replacement cards if the parent/legal guardian on record appears in person, with the juvenile and with photo identification, to request a replacement card. Alternatively, the child may present a paper application signed by the parent/legal guardian on record. The child must also provide identification. Acceptable forms of identification for children, in addition to those acceptable for adults, include a report card or other official documentation from a school or other authority.
  • A replacement fee may be charged.
  • In all cases, staff discretion and good judgment should be used.

Item Limits

  • See: Schedule of Item Limits, Loan Periods and Renewals for specific item limits by item and borrower type.
  • Borrowers with Limited Status cards have a limit of one item from San José Public Library collection. No items can be borrowed from the San José State University Library collection.

Customer privacy

  • San José Library circulation records, and other records identifying the names of library users are confidential in nature. Any individual customer, upon furnishing proper identification, may review and examine his or her personal library circulation records, or other personal records insofar as such records are available. For details, See: PL_198 Confidentiality of Patron Records Policy
  • In the event that the Public Library cardholder is under the age of 18, and the parent or legal guardian is in possession of the child’s card, parents or legal guardians may request specific information regarding their child’s record. If the child’s card is not in the parent’s or legal guardian’s possession, the information provided will be limited to materials which are overdue, lost or damaged, or fines that are owed.

Other Exceptions

  • In order to more positively identify borrowers, library staff ask for their birth date. If the customer refuses to give their birth date but fulfills all other requirements, the library will still issue them a card.
  • If a borrower gives a temporary address, staff will note their permanent address in the appropriate field in their record. In some cases, appropriate verification of permanent address may be required in order for the customer to obtain a regular status library card.

Applicable Personnel/Departments

Access Services/Circulation




Reviewed and approved by: Signature/Name Date of Approval
Assistant City Librarian   Ned Himmel   6/02  
King Library Supervising Librarian   Lisa Rosenblum   3/05  
SJSU Library Associate Dean   Jo Bell Whitlatch     
SJPL LMT  Mary Nacu  2/2010 

History & Dates

Category of Policy:User Services
Author(s): Library Assistant, Gayle Davis
Authorized by: Assistant City Librarian, Ned Himmel; King Library Supervising Librarian, Lisa Rosenblum; SJSU Library Associate Dean, Jo Bell Whitlatch
Date Written:1/02
Date Effective: 7/90
Date(s) of Revision(s):3/97; 1/02; 3/05; 7/05;8/05; 3/7/07; 8/16/07; 8/24/07, 12/4/07GD, 9/08GD, 02/18/10gd, 02/22/10gd


A. Confidentiality of Patron Records Policy