Reciprocal Library Cards


Welcome to the second of four related posts about library cards and access to libraries!

In this collection of posts, we’re discussing Home, Reciprocal, and Purchased library cards; then wrapping-up by exploring libraries-without-cards.
I hope you’re enjoying these posts, and that they give you ideas for expanding your access to books!


In the previous post in this series, we discussed Home libraries.
It’s a simple, short, post; and you may find it helpful as a foundation for what we’re discussing in this post.
It’s available here:

Reciprocal Library Cards in a Nutshell

Library systems have arrangements between them which allow you to get a card at a different library system, simply by having your Home library card.

My home library system is the Kitsap Regional Library.

The following question and answer appear on KRL’s “Library Card FAQs” page:

  • Question: “Can I obtain a library card for libraries outside of Kitsap?”
  • Answer: “If you have a Kitsap Regional Library card, you can obtain a library card from other libraries, including Jefferson County Library System, King County Library System, North Olympic Library System, Pierce County Library System, Puyallup Public Library, Seattle Public Library, Sno-Isle Libraries and Timberland Regional Library. Please take your Kitsap Regional Library card, valid ID and proof of address to any of their library locations to apply for a card.”

So, simply by having my KRL card, I was able to acquire cards (so far) for eight other library systems.

You may want to explore your Home library’s site, or ask a librarian, to learn what Reciprocal arrangements your Home library system has.

The Power of Asking

One of my Reciprocal cards is for the Whatcom County Library System.
WCLS is not listed on my Home library’s site as a Reciprocal library.
How did I find out that it is a Reciprocal library?
I asked. I contacted WCLS and they emailed me back with this information:

“You may receive a WCLS library card if:

  • You live in Washington State and have a valid public library card from your local library
  • You have a valid library card from Fraser Valley Regional Library”

I fit the first requirement, so I followed their simple instructions, which were:

  • “If you are still interested in receiving a WCLS card, please reply to this email and attach a photo of your local library card, front and back.”

And they were kind enough to mail me a card for their library system!

In summary, it never hurts to ask; and if you’re a library-loving person, then I expect you’re the curious type.


Why would someone collect library cards?

For me, there are several answers to this question, including:

  • It’s fun.
  • It gets me exploring other libraries.
  • It introduces me to new books and authors.
  • It often lets me get a book quicker.
  • It gives me access to books that aren’t in my Home library system.

Let’s explore those last two points for a moment.
Like many of you, I use the Libby app to checkout ebooks from my library systems.
When I look up a book, it’s common for there to be a wide range of times for when the book may be available.
One library system may say that the hold queue is three weeks long, and another may say eighteen weeks, for the same title.
However, one of them may say that there’s a copy available now.

This tweet of mine includes a screenshot of what I just described:

A related issue is that sometimes one or more of my library systems simply doesn’t have a book in their system.

So, by having my collection of library cards, I may get books sooner, and may get books that I otherwise wouldn’t have access to.

We’re lovers of libraries.
I always get a combined feeling of joy and tranquility when I go into a library.
Don’t you want to find more places like this?

Next Up

In the third post in our set, we’ll discuss Purchased library cards.
Why would you pay for a library card when so many places will give you one for free?
Answers in the next post.

Until then, you may explore all the library systems that I have cards for, here:

And I suggest that you look into what Reciprocal arrangements your Home library may have.

Library Girl and

PS: If you’d like to get an email alert when I have new posts for you, please type your email address in the box below and click the “Subscribe” button.

PPS: Just before we part, I’d like to note that these blog posts are only half of what I do as Library Girl. The other half is on Twitter. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you may still visit my twitter page and see what I’m up-to, here:
If you are on Twitter, please join the bookish conversation with me.
Thank you.

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