Eligibility for Library Service Policy (5.201)


This policy applies to all visitors to the Bellingham Public Library online, and at physical locations.


Resident: person who is a property owner or renter in the City of Bellingham or Whatcom County, a student enrolled in a college or university in Bellingham or Whatcom County, or a person employed in Bellingham or Whatcom County.


1. The library offers services to the public without requiring a library card. Anyone may visit the library to:

  • Browse and consult the library’s print and online collections
  • Attend free programs open to the public
  • Rent meeting rooms
  • Use library computers to access the Internet and/or other in-library online resources

2. Library card holders have access to additional services. These services include:

  • Borrowing and reserving library items
  • Accessing online e-titles and subscription services

3. Library cards are available at no charge to residents of Bellingham and Whatcom County.

  • Individual adults must provide photo ID and proof of their current address.
  • Parents or legal guardians must provide photo ID and proof of their current address when requesting a library card for youth.
  • New residents without proof of residency may be offered one-time, limited borrowing services.
  • Individuals who work in Bellingham or Whatcom County must provide photo ID, proof of their current address, and proof of employment in Bellingham or Whatcom County.
  • Institutions or businesses must provide written approval from the owner and/or an official authorized to enter into contracts on behalf of the organization.
  • Library card holders of the Whatcom County Library System may use their cards to access materials and services at Bellingham Public Library locations.

4. Library cards are available at no charge to card holders of other public libraries within Washington State.

  • Applicants must present a public library card from their local jurisdiction, photo ID, and proof of current address.
  • Borrowing privileges for interlibrary loans, electronic materials and/or access to online services may be limited.

5. Library cards may be purchased by those who do not meet the criteria in sections 3 and 4 above.

Visitors to the area may pay a fee for short-term, limited borrowing privileges. Photo ID and proof of current address must be provided. Non-residents of Washington State may pay a renewable, annual fee to borrow physical materials. Access to electronic materials is limited. Photo ID and proof of current address must be provided.

6. Access to library services may be suspended. Library services may be suspended if card holder has:

  • Overdue items
  • Unpaid fines or fees
  • Access to other library services may be suspended to those who are excluded or trespassed from the library.

7. Library Board reviews this policy.

  • This policy is periodically reviewed, revised, or reaffirmed by the Library Board of Trustees.



Title: 5.201 Eligibility for Library Service
Code: 5 Circulation Services
Chapter: 5.200 Eligibility for services
Type of Policy: Departmental
Date Developed: 22 August 1997
Date Revised: June 21, 2016
Revised by: Jennifer Vander Ploeg, Pam Kiesner
Developed by: Pam Kiesner
Approved By: Library Board of Trustees
Cancels: Section VIII Subsection Circulation Policies and Procedures, Registration Rules and Routines