Card and Catalog Help

About Your Library Card  |  About the Library Catalog

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

About your BCPL library card...

  1. How do I get a library card?

  2. Can I apply online for a library card?

  3. Can I get a library card registration form in a language other than English?

  4. What is valid identification to get a library card?

  5. Can my child get a library card?

  6. Does my library card expire?

  7. How do I renew my library card?

  8. What should I do if my name or my address has changed?

  9. What should I do if my library card is lost, stolen or damaged?

  10. If my old card was lost or stolen will my holds transfer if I get a new card?

  11. Can I use my card from another Maryland public library?

  12. Is there a special card for teachers?

  13. I live out of state. Can I still get a BCPL library card if I do not live in Maryland?

  14. How many items may I check out and how long can I keep them?

  15. Can I return items to another Baltimore County Public Library branch?

  16. Can I return items to a Maryland public library system other than BCPL?

  17. How do I renew material and how many times can I renew it?

  18. Why won't my item renew?

  19. What is the Shelf Help automated phone service, and what can I do if it is not working?

  20. What is the overdue fine rate?

  21. Can I get a list of everything I have checked out from the library in the past?

  22. How do I check my library account?

 

About the BCPL online catalog and accessing your account online...

  1. How do I search the Baltimore County Public Library catalog?

  2. How do I request a title / place a hold?

  3. How do I cancel, postpone or suspend a title that I have requested?

  4. How do I get a title not owned by Baltimore County Public Library?

  5. How do I check my library account?

  6. How do I find out if I have any late fees on my library account and can I pay my fees online?

  7. How can I create list of what I have read from within in my library account?

  8. How do I renew material and how many times can I renew it?

  9. Why won't my item renew?

  10. What is my password? How do I change my password?

  11. What is a username? How do I create a username?

  

Answers About the Library Catalog and Your Account...

 

How Do I Get a Baltimore County Public Library Card?

To apply for a free Baltimore County Public library card giving you full library privileges, visit in person the Accounts Desk at any Baltimore County Public Library branch or any Mobile Library Services bookmobile stop and bring a current photo ID.
 

For children 17 years of age or under who do not have a current photo ID, a parent or legal guardian must be present to show their current photo ID and to sign the child's library card.

 

Why Should I Get a Permanent Library Card?

A library card allows you
 

  • To check out materials, to sign up for a public computer and to access many other services.

  • To spend less time standing in line waiting for staff-assisted checkout or computer sign up.

  • To use many self-service options in the branch and from home, including placing holds, renewing items, accessing electronic databases and online payments.

  • To access your account information from home.
     

To get a permanent library card with full borrowing privileges, you must visit in person any Baltimore County Public Library branch or any Mobile Library Services bookmobile stop. (Current photo ID required.) Library cards are not mailed or available online. We strongly recommend that if you have holds on or checked out OverDrive or cloudLibrary downloadable eBooks or audiobooks that you wait to get a permanent card until these items are returned.

 

Register Online

 

If you do not already have a library card, you can register online for an e-card number (also called a PACREG #) through Online Registration (opens new window). Out-of-state residents, please see information about out-of-state cards and fees before registering online.

After you register online, you will be assigned a Baltimore County Public Library e-card number giving you limited privileges. You will be able to place a reserve or hold on materials through the library catalog, use our online research databases and other selected electronic resources. PACREG e-cards do not work with cloudLibrary or RBDigital (formerly Zinio) downloadable materials.

 


Can I Get a Library Card Registration Form in a Language Other Than English?

 

Paper registration forms may be printed in Korean [PDF] , Russian [PDF] (opens new window) and Spanish [PDF]. Fill out the form and take it to your branch to get a library card.
 


What Do I Need to Get a Library Card? What is valid identification?

 

For Adults, ages 18 years and older:

 

You must have a current photo ID to get a library card. If you have changed your address, a Motor Vehicle Administration update must accompany your driver's license or identification card.
 

  • List of IDs accepted:
    MVA issued ID [examples include Driver's Licenses, State Issued ID]
    Government issued ID [examples include Passport, Military ID, Department of Correction Photo ID]
    Employer issued ID
    School issued photo IDs [examples include public school, private school, college/university]
    Bank issued photo IDs [examples include Credit an Debit cards]
    Shelter Photo IDs
     
  • List of IDs not accepted:
    Club cards [examples include Costco, BJs and SAMS Club
    Check cashing cards
     

For children in group homes, verification of identity and address by the staff of the home is acceptable.

 

 


Can a Child Get a Library Card?

 

Ages 14 to 17 

You can get a library card if you have a current photo ID for example a current Maryland Driver's license, learner's permit, provisional license or school-issued photo ID. If you have changed your address, a Motor Vehicle Administration update must accompany your driver's license or identification card.
 

If you do not have a current photo ID then a parent or guardian, 18 years or older, must be present to present a current photo ID and to sign the library card.
 

Checking out DVDs and Video Games:
Parental permission and a signature is required at the time of registration in order for children to use their library cards to check out any DVDs and video games that are not rated for children. If the parent or guardian does not sign and authorize permission, only DVDs and video games for children may be borrowed.
 

 

Child under 14 years old

A parent or legal guardian, 18 years or older, must apply for a library card for a child under 14 years old. The child must be present at the time of application. The parent or guardian must show a current photo ID and must sign the card before it may be used. The person signing the card is accepting financial responsibility for materials borrowed or any charges incurred on a child's card.
 

Non-custodial Guardian Accompanying the Child:
The guardian (including grandparents, aunts and uncles, adult siblings, foster parents) must live at the same address and be 18 years old or older. The guardian must show a current photo ID that matches the child's address and must sign the child's card.
 

Checking out DVDs and Video Games:
Parental permission and a signature is required at the time of registration in order for children to use their library cards to check out any DVDs and video games that are not rated for children. If the parent or guardian does not sign and authorize permission, only DVDs and video games for children may be borrowed.
 

 


Does my Library Card Expire? Do I Have to Renew my Library Card?

 

An active card in good standing does not need to be renewed. Inactive Baltimore County Public Library cards will expire after a few years. If a card expires, you will need to apply for a new Baltimore County Public Library card by visiting in person the Accounts Desk at any Baltimore County Public Library branch or any Mobile Library Services bookmobile stop and bring a current photo ID.

 


What Should I Do if My Name or My Address Changed?

 

You cannot change your name online. Please phone (press 3 for Library Accounts) or visit your nearest Baltimore County Public Library branch.
 

To update your address, phone number or email address, please use any of the following:
 

  • Online: You can change your address, phone number and email by logging into your library account using your library card number (barcode) without spaces or the username you created and your password.

    When you are in your account, click the Contact Information and Preferences button. Edit your contact information and then select the Submit Change Request button at the bottom of the form.
     

 


What Do I Do If My Library Card is Lost, Stolen or Damaged?

 

If your library card has been lost or stolen you should report it immediately in-person or by phone (press 3 for Library Accounts) to any Baltimore County Public Library branch. You are responsible for any items checked out on your library card before the card is reported lost or stolen.

 

To get a replacement card, you will need to show current photo ID at the Accounts Desk of any of our branches. Replacement cost for a damaged or lost library card is $2.

 


If My Old Card Was Damaged, Lost or Stolen Will My Holds Transfer If I Get a New Card?

 

Holds on titles, except on downloadable eBooks and audiobooks, will automatically transfer to your new card.

 

If you have placed holds or checked out OverDrive or cloudLibrary downloadable titles, please fill out this Support Request form and include your new library card number and if possible your old card number. Also include the email address used when placing the holds. We will ask OverDrive and cloudLibrary to transfer your checked out titles and holds to your new account.

 

It is best to delay getting a new card if you are in the middle of reading any cloudLibrary titles or have titles on hold with them.

 

 


Can I Use My Library Card From Another Maryland Public Library System at BCPL?

 

To use a library card from another Maryland public library system at any BCPL branch, it must be registered at the Accounts Desk at any of our branches or any Mobile Library Services bookmobile stop. Once your card is registered you may borrow our materials or use our subscription research databases. Complete access to all titles in our OverDrive collection and to the RBDigital (formerly Zinio) collections will not be available.
 

A new library card will be issued only if your current library card's identification number is not compatible with our circulation software. A current photo ID will be required. Online registering of another public library's card is not available.
 

 


I Do Not Live in Maryland; I Live Out of State. Can I Still Get a Library Card?

 

Customers who are not residents of Maryland may obtain a BCPL out-of-state library card with the payment of an annual $50 out-of-state fee. This fee must be paid in full before an out-of-state library card will be issued. BCPL cannot accept partial payments for this fee. Customers can opt to have their material held for up to three days until full payment is made.
 

Out-of-state library cards expire one year from date of payment.
 

Out-of-state residents who have paid this type of fee to any other Maryland library system are not exempt from paying the BCPL fee.
 

Students who attend a Maryland school (but their permanent residence is out-of-state) do not have to pay the fee if they can provide a current Maryland school-issued photo ID. These cards expire one year from the date of registration.
 

Maryland property owners who live out-of-state can obtain an out-of-state card without paying the fee if they provide their current year Maryland Property Tax Bill. These cards also expire one year from the date of registration.
 

 


How Do I Request a Title (Place a Hold)?

 

In order to place a request for a title, you must have a Baltimore County Public Library card or have previously registered your library card from any other Maryland public library with us. You can obtain a BCPL e-card number by registering online.  All eligible material may be reserved (placed on hold) at any Baltimore County Public Library branch either in-person, by phone or online using the BCPL catalog.

 

To Place a Reserve (hold):

  1. if you have a library card number (barcode number) then you can log into your account.  Initially, the default password was set to be the last four digits of your phone number.  If you wish, you can change your password after you log into your account.  You can also change access to your library account from using your barcode to using a user name.
     

  2. Search for the title in the BCPL catalogLearn more...
     

  3. Click on the Place Request button.
     

  4. If an item is not owned by BCPL, it may be available through our Interlibrary Loan services.
     

There is no charge for placing a hold on an item owned by BCPL.  You will be notified when your material is available at your pickup location.  Reserves are held for seven days.  If an item is not picked up, there is a $1 charge per item.  There are several ways to check the status of your reserves (holds).

 


How Do I Cancel, Postpone or Suspend a Title I Have Requested?

 

There are several ways to cancel a request for a hold. The Information Desk staff at any Baltimore County Public Library branch can help you cancel your requested items.

 

If the items have not yet arrived at your branch, you can cancel by logging onto your library account and canceling your request. To do this, you will need your library card number (barcode) and password. The default password for an account is the last four digits or your phone number until you change it. Click on the Requests link on the left side of your Account page to see your reserves/holds. Select those you wish to cancel. The filling of one or more hold requests can be suspended until a later date or a suspended hold can be reactived through the same Requests link in your library account.

 

If the items you requested are "ready for pick up" or are in transit ("Shipped"), then you cannot cancel or change the hold pickup date online but must call the branch to which you requested the item be sent. When you call the branch, after the recording picks up, press 3 to speak to someone about your library account information. Have your library card number ready.

 

 

How Many Items May I Check Out and How Long Can I Keep Library Materials?

 

Customers may check out up to 100 items (books, CD's) at a time, with the following two exceptions:
 

  • DVDs -- Limit of 20 DVD titles of any type per customer
  • Video games -- can have 3 at a time checked out
  • Downloadables -- can have up to 6 at a time checked out from each collection (cloudLibrary and OverDrive) for a total of 12 

 

Library materials are loaned to you for 21 days, with the following exceptions:
 

  • Book Club Kits -- 6 weeks
  • Downloadable eBooks and audiobooks from OverDrive -- customers can set their OverDrive lending period to 7, 14 or 21 days.
  • Entertainment or feature length DVDs -- 1 day
  • Playaway Views, TV series DVDs, classic and foreign films on DVD -- 7 days
     

Most materials are eligible for 2 renewals.

 

 


Can I return items to another Baltimore County Public Library branch?

 

Yes, you can return Baltimore County Public Library materials to any Baltimore County Public Library branch or BCPL bookmobile stop. All branches have a book drop. Library materials must be returned or renewed by their due date. Items put in a book drop by their due date are considered on time if returned before the branch opens the next business day. Items returned in the book drop after the branch opens will accrue an extended loan (overdue) fee which will be automatically attached to a customer’s library account.

 

 


Can I return items to a Maryland public library system other than BCPL?

 

Yes, all public library systems accept materials borrowed from any Maryland public library systems for return subject to that library's current fees, policies and procedures.  It is recommended that you ask for a receipt showing the date, what materials you returned and what fees were paid, if any.  Since the item must be sent from the other library system back to Baltimore County Public Library before it can actually be checked in, your library account may reflect that delivery delay.  It is recommended that any item acquired through our Marina or OCLC (WorldCat) Interlibrary Loan Services should be returned to a BCPL branch. Please include all original Marina or OCLC paperwork and book bands.

 

 


How Do I Renew Material and How Many Times Can I Renew it?

 

Renewals allow you to extend the original loan period for an item already checked out to you. Renewals are not always for the same length of time as the original loan period.  The new due date is calculated from the date the renewal is submitted.  Items eligible for renewal may be renewed up to two times (exception - OverDrive downloadables can only be renewed one time).  If your item is already late when you renew it, appropriate late fee will be applied to your library account.

 

Materials can be renewed online or through automated phone system, SHELF HELP.

 

To renew online, log into your account (open new windows) or click here for renewal directions.

 

An item is not eligible for renewal if ...
 

  • Another customer has placed a hold on the title.
  • You have already renewed that item twice.
  • You have extended loan fees over $25 for overdue materials listed on your library account.
  • The item belongs to another library system. 
  • The item was interlibrary loaned through OCLC.
  • The item was checked out through a Teacher Loan Card.
  • The item is Reference and cannot be borrowed.
  • The item is a downloadable e-Book from cloudLibrary Library.

How do I check my library account? How do I find out if I have any late fees on my library account? Can I pay fees online?

 

You can check your library account by calling or visiting any BCPL branch, by using the automated phone system, Shelf Help or log into your library account online.

 

To check your account online, go to the My Account area located at the top of any BCPL web page and log into your account by entering your library card number (barcode) without spaces and your password. The default password is the last 4 digits of your phone number unless you changed it. Next select the Log In button.

In your library account, select the links on the left side of the page. Select Items Out to find what you have checked out and their due dates. Requests lists all your reserves/holds and their status.

 

To review your extended loan fees for overdue items, click the Fees link on the left after logging into your account.

 

You can now pay your library fees online. Find out more...

 

To call a branch for help with fees, see the BCPL Hours and Locations to find the branch phone number. Once the recording starts, press 3 for library account information. To protect the confidentiality of your library account, you will need your library card number and you may be asked additional identification information.

 

To use SHELF HELP automated phone system to check your account, call 410-494-9063 then press 1. You will need your library card number to get to your account information. You cannot pay fees using Shelf Help but you can find out how much you may owe.

 


What is my password? How do I change my password?

 

A password and your library card number (barcode) are needed to log into your library account online. Both password and barcode number are used in order to safeguard your privacy. You were assigned a default password when you registered for a library card. The default password is the last four digits of the phone number listed in your account unless you changed it.
 

You may change your password by using the My Account area located at the top of any BCPL web page. Enter your library card number (barcode) without spaces, your password (default is the last four digits of your phone number) and click the Log In button. If you cannot log into your account, call any BCPL branch and ask for assistance with resetting your password.
 

If you included an email address in your library account, you can use the Forgot your password? link on the My Account login page and your current password will be emailed to you.
 

Once logged into your account, click on the Change Logon button at the bottom of the screen. Now click on the box before Change Password. Type in your old password and then your new password. Enter your new password again in the Verification box, then select the Save button.
 

 


What is a username? How do I create a username?

 

Customers who already have a BCPL library card/account can create a username. Having a customized username linked to your BCPL account will allow you to:

 

  • Access to your library account with a username that means something to you and is easy to remember.
  • Quickly log in at self-check machines rather than having to pull out and scan your card or memorize your 14 digit library card number.
  • Quickly log into your online account, place holds, check your library account, renew materials and pay fees online.
     

Once created, your username is used to log into your account instead of your library card number. Creating a username does not change your password, which will still be needed to log into your account after creating a username. You will always have access to your library account with your library card number, even if you create a user name. 

 

To create a custom username, follow the directions to create a user name.

 


What is the SHELF HELP automated phone service, and what can I do if it's not working?

 

Baltimore County Public Library’s automated phone service, SHELF HELP, allows you to get the following information about your library account by dialing 410-494-9063 on a touch-tone phone. You will need your library card identification number.

 

Once the recording starts: 

 

  • Press 1 for library account information and access to renewing items. You may check your account for any overdue items, extended loan fees for overdue items, items checked out and reserves.
  • Press 2 for library hours.
  • Press 3 for current library announcements and holiday closings.
     

If for any reason SHELF HELP is not working, it is your responsibility to renew your materials online or by visiting or phoning a branch.

 


How can I find a list of everything I have checked out from the library in the past?

 

The library does not automatically keep a record of what our customers have checked out in the past. When the item is returned to us and any outstanding fees or fees are paid, the information about that item is removed from the customer’s account. Our automated system is set up in this way to protect customer privacy.

 

However, BCPL now has the option to allow the customer to retain a permanent reading list that can hold up to 1000 titles. Customers must opt-in for this feature. For more information, see the next section on creating a Reading History list below.

 

How can I create list of what I have read?

 

You can set up your library account to keep a list of your past reading history. This list is kept within your personal library account but the library account software defaults to the "off" position so that you must turn the option on in order to enable the list to work. The list is not retroactive so it will not begin compiling your reading history until you set it to the on position.

 

You can find and turn on this option by following these steps:

 

  1. Visit the library's homepage at http://www.bcpl.info
  2. Click on the "My Account" area at the top of the page and then log in using your library card number (also known as your barcode). Type your library card number without any spaces between the numbers and use your Password, which is defaulted to be the last four digits of your phone number (unless you have logged in and changed it to something that you can more easily remember).
  3. Then click on the "Contact Information and Preferences" link, below the messages link, which is located towards the bottom of the My Account screen.
  4. Scroll down and you should see a "Maintain reading list" checkbox under Preferences. Simply put a check in this box and then click “Submit Change Request” button and you're all set.

 

This feature will add a "Reading History" to your library account information. Look for a Reading History link on the left side of your library account once you have enabled this option. The library will maintain a record of the titles you checked out (up to one thousand titles or up to one year) so that you can easily remember what you may have read from the library in the past year. Remember that this list is NOT infinite and only goes back the last one thousand titles or up to one year.  You may copy and paste these titles into your own files if you think that you may want something more permanent or comprehensive than we are able to provide.

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Revised: November 15, 2016