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How to get a library card in St. Louis — and what it gets you

The St. Louis Public Library’s Carondelet branch on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Public Library and St. Louis County Library catalogs boast 5 million items for library members across 37 branches in St. Louis city and county.

St. Louis-area libraries are beloved by locals for their extensive shared catalogs, community events and award-winning community programs and services.

The region is home to a collection independent municipal libraries and county library systems, including St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis County Library and St. Charles City-County Library. Each library and system branch has unique perks and events, so it can be worthwhile to visit different locations.

The Municipal Library Consortium consists of nine community libraries across St. Louis County in Brentwood, Ferguson, Kirkwood, Maplewood, Richmond Heights, Rock Hill, University City, Webster Groves and Valley Park. While each branch operates independently, getting a card at one of the locations gives you access to each branch's collection.

What can you check out from the library?

St. Louis Public Library and St. Louis County Library, two of the largest library systems in the area, merged their catalogs in March 2022 and now boast 5 million books, periodicals, movies and other items for library members across 37 branches in St. Louis city and county. Library members can reserve items and have them delivered to their branch of choice.

A library card can get you a lot more than just things to read and watch. Organizations across the state, including the Missouri Department of Conservation and St. Louis Astronomical Society, have provided the libraries with outdoor equipment, musical instruments and technology that patrons can check out for two-week periods.

Some of the items available from the Library of Things include:

  • Binoculars and telescopes
  • Fishing poles and tackle boxes
  • Disc golf and pickleball kits 
  • Guitars, banjos, ukuleles, keyboards, xylophones and hand drums
  • Chromebook laptops
  • Projectors
  • Wi-Fi hotspots
  • VR headsets
  • Blood pressure kits
  • Tabletop games and puzzles
  • Fort-building kits

How to sign up for a library card

To sign up for a library card from St. Louis Public Library, valid for two years, you must live or pay property taxes in the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County or St. Charles County.

Here’s what to do next:

  • Bring a photo ID and proof of address to any of the more than 30 branch locations to sign up with a staff member in person. Or, fill out an online application
  • If you don’t have a photo ID and proof of address, you can present an official document with your name on it and receive a card that’s good for one year and enables you to check out two items at a time, download movies and music and use the computers. 

Students who attend school within St. Louis’s city boundaries and live in the St. Louis metro area can get a card that’s good for one year if they present a report card with their name and address. (The metro area includes St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, the Missouri counties of Franklin, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Warren — and the Illinois counties of Clinton, Jersey, Madison, Monroe and St. Clair.

Parents can also get library cards for their newborns via the Born to Read program, which promotes the habit of reading children as soon as possible. The program is part of a larger early literacy effort at the library.

Library programs and services

Aside from literary needs, libraries also partner with local organizations to fill social service gaps in the community. One example includes the Alliance for Period Supplies, an initiative of the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank, which provides free period supply kits at all St. Louis Public Library locations. Just ask any library staff member for a period supply kit, which includes menstrual hygiene products including pads, tampons and liners. Anyone can request one and no library card is needed.

For help with legal matters, people can visit the Tap In Center at the St. Louis County Library’s Florissant Valley branch or the Lewis and Clark branch in north St. Louis County. The initiative seeks to provide a safe space for people who need assistance in resolving warrants, meeting with an attorney, getting updates about their case status, applying for a public defender or even just accessing a cell phone.

Last fall, on-site licensed social workers were placed in five St. Louis County library branches to help connect library users with services like mental health care, job training and treatment for substance use disorder. You can find them at the Florissant Valley, Lewis & Clark, Natural Bridge, Rock Road and Weber Road branches.

Lara is the Engagement Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.