Borrowing Materials

Borrowing Materials

Temporary Library Card

An online temporary library card can access most library resources. However, some resources, such as Kanopy and, are not available. Online library card applicants have 30 days to visit a library location with a current picture ID and proof of current address to transition to a permanent library card, which grants full access to all resources.

Self Check-out

If you don't feel like standing in line, and you only have books to check out, try our self check-out machines. (If you are checking out CDs or DVDs, please use the staff-assisted checkout.)

To use the machine, scan the barcode on the back of your library card and then follow the instructions. At the end of the transaction, you can get a printout of your checked-out books and have a copy emailed to you if your email address is on file.

Loan Periods

  • Books, MP3 Playaways and Books on CD can be checked out for an initial period of 21 days. 
  • DVDs, music CDs, VHS videocassettes and LPs can be checked out for 7 days.
  • eBooks & Audiobooks on OverDrive can be checked out for 7, 14 or 21 days. 
  • Streaming video on OverDrive can be checked out for 3, 5 or 7 days.

Item Limits

  • You may check out a maximum of 50 books at a time, 10 DVDs and 10 CDs.
  • You may check out a maximum of 10 digital titles on OverDrive at a time.


  • For physical items, if there is no hold on the item, it can be renewed 10 times (for an additional 21 days each time). If someone has placed a hold on your item, you may not renew it. View all renewal FAQs.
  • When you renew a digital title on OverDrive, it doesn't extend your lending period. Instead, it lets you borrow the title again immediately after your current checkout expires (if there are no existing holds). Learn more about renewing digital titles


  • Customers may place up to 25 physical items on hold. Available hold notifications are sent via email to the email address in the customer's account. Once notified, items will be held at the preferred pickup library for 10 days. 
  • For OverDrive titles, you may place up to 15 digital items on hold. When the hold becomes available,  you will be notified via email and the title will automatically check out to you. Learn more about automatic check outs on OverDrive.


• Return item by due date No fee
• Item not returned in 30 days after due date $5 overdue fee
• Item not returned in 60 days after due date  Lost/damaged fee
          Magazine $8
          Hardcover $20
          Paperback $15
          Media (CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, videocassettes) $15
• Fees totaling $40 or more library card blocked from checking out materials
• No fees are charged to library accounts for kids ages 19 and younger

Library users can pay fees with their Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express online by logging into their catalog account. Cash payments are not accepted.

Returning Items

  • You may return borrowed items at any DC Public Library; it does not matter where you checked them out.
  • All digital titles are automatically returned at the end of their lending period. Learn more about returning digital titles early.

Expired Privileges

If your card has expired, please visit any DC Public Library with a current picture ID and proof of current address in our service area. 

Inter-library Loans

Inter-library Loan is a way to request books, microfilm, articles and other material not owned by the DC Public Library. The service is available to DC Public Library customers with current library cards in good standing.

Customers assume cost of postage, insurance and handling charges. If the lending library charges a borrowing fee, that must be paid by the requesting customer. Materials cannot be requested from the Library of Congress.

You can find out more information on the Inter-library Loans page