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Guidelines for Statewide Library Card System​


The Statewide Library Card is a reciprocal partnership among state-aided local libraries and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, hereinafter referred to as State. The program’s purpose is to increase the availability of library materials for Pennsylvanians who live in a municipality in which a state-aided local library is supported by facilitating direct borrowing of physical items and use of onsite services at participating libraries. The program’s underlying principle is reciprocity. Each state-aided local library agrees to honor library cards from other state-aided local libraries with the understanding that borrowing privileges will be extended to its own users by other state-aided libraries.


As required by the Public Library Code, all local libraries that receive Quality Libraries Aid shall participate in the Access Pennsylvania Statewide Library Card Program (Title 24 PA. C.S.A. § 9334 (c)(1)).

Program Description

Eligible Card Holders

To be eligible to participate, Pennsylvania residents must live in a municipality in which a state-aided local library is supported as authorized by the Public Library Code. Such a library is designated as the resident’s home library.

A resident with a valid library card from their home library shall be eligible to participate.

The home library shall issue a library card with the Access Pennsylvania logo to an eligible resident. To use another participating library, eligible card holders shall register for library services using the same process required of local residents

Eligible card holders shall abide by the rules and polices of any library they use and assume responsibility for all materials borrowed.

Ineligible Residents

Pennsylvania residents living in a municipality that does not support a local state-aided library are not eligible to participate in the program.

To obtain library services, ineligible Pennsylvania residents may register for state-funded POWER Library electronic services on the POWER Library website.

Statewide Library Card Services for Eligible Participants

For eligible participants, state-aided local libraries shall:

  • Not charge a fee for a library card.
  • Provide onsite services and materials under the same rules and policies applied to local residents.
  • Offer reserves for library materials.
  • Send all payments from patrons for lost or damaged materials to the owning library.

Eligible card holders who do not reside in a library’s service area may be offered the following services on an optional basis:

  • Interlibrary loan service for items not owned by the library or its affiliated library system.
  • Access to electronic resources that are subject to contractual agreement limitations.
  • Accept returns of library materials owned by other participating libraries. Libraries shall report date returned by patron to owning library.
  • Allow returns of their own library materials to other participating libraries.

State-aided local libraries may charge ineligible Pennsylvanians or out-of-state residents a fee for a library card. A library selling such a card shall not sponsor that person for the statewide library card program.

State-aided local libraries shall maintain statistical records of loans to eligible card holders and report that information to the Office of Commonwealth Libraries when requested.

Program Intent

Availability of Library Resources

The Statewide Library Card program is intended to broaden the availability of library resources to bolster Pennsylvanians’ access to reading and learning by maintaining and improving local support for library resources and services.

Level of Library Service

The program is not intended to adversely affect the level of service provided by the home library for its own residents. Likewise, the program is not intended to reduce any library’s level of service by placing undue reliance on the services of a nearby library or libraries.

Compensation for Service

If statewide funding for this service becomes available, priority for reimbursement of a portion of the participating library’s costs to lend materials shall be given to help support loans made to out-of-county residents.

Originally approved 11/13/85; Revised 12/1999, 5/2019, 8/2019