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Service Alert

The Anacostia Library will be closed from Monday, July 22 - Sunday, Aug. 4 for a scheduled facilities project. Learn more on the Anacostia Library page.

Find information on borrowing books, DVDs, eBooks and more, including checkout limits, renewal periods and placing holds. 

You can search our Catalog here.

Borrowing Information

Materials you can borrow

Physical materials

  • Books
  • Express books
  • Children's speaker books
  • Playaways
  • Books on disc
  • DVDs
  • Music CDs

Digital materials

  • Overdrive/Libby eBooks
  • Overdrive/Libby eAudiobooks
  • Overdrive/Libby magazines

Find more information about using Overdrive & Libby for digital materials.

Loan periods

  • 7 days for DVDs and Music CDs
  • 21 days for:
    • Books
    • Express books
    • Books on CD, Playaways and children's speaker books
    • Overdrive/Libby eBooks
    • Overdrive/Libby eAudiobooks
    • Overdrive/Libby Magazines 

Checkout limits and renewals

Item limits

  • Up to 50 books may be checked out at one time.
  • The following categories of items have a 10 item maximum checkout limit: books on CD, DVDs, music CDs, Overdrive/Libby eBooks and Overdrive/Libby eAudiobooks.   

Renewal periods

  • All physical materials with the exception of Express Books are auto-renewed up to 5 times if there are no holds, or can be manually renewed up to 5 times.
  • Overdrive/Libby Magazines can be renewed.
  • Overdrive/Libby eBooks and eAudiobooks can be renewed

Renewals are for the same time as the original loan period. For example, books have a 21 day loan period, and can be renewed for up to 5 additional 21 day periods.

The renewal policy does not apply to Educator cards.

Your items may not be renewed if: 

  • They are on hold for another person
  • They have been renewed 5 times
  • They are extremely overdue
  • You have significant unpaid lost item or replacement fees
  • Your card has expired

Placing holds

You can place holds on items that are checked out to another customer, or to have an item sent to your home library from another location. We will email you when the item is ready to be picked up - make sure your email address is up-to-date in your account! 


  • Holds can be placed on all physical materials with the exception of Express Books, reference materials, or items in the People's Archive. 
  • Holds can be placed on Overdrive/Libby eBooks and eAudiobooks. 
  • Holds cannot be placed on Overdrive/Libby magazines. 
  • You can place up to 25 physical items on hold and for OverDrive/Libby titles, you may place up to 15 digital items on hold.

Placing holds

To place a hold, log in to your account. Once logged in, search for what you want in the catalog search box at the top of the page. Then click the “Place Hold” button next to the item you want to hold. 

You’ll get an email or text notification when your hold is available for pickup, and items will be held for 5 days at your preferred pickup library. 

For digital holds, you’ll have 3 days to checkout your item once you receive your email notification. You can also choose to deliver your digital hold later. Learn more about managing available digital holds with “deliver later.”

Suspending a hold

If you’re going out of town and know you won’t be able to pick up items (or you have a lot of holds you know you won’t be able to enjoy all at once), you can “suspend” your holds. This way your hold won’t be filled while you’re gone but you’ll still keep your spot in the waiting list. 

Here’s how to do it:

  • Log in with your library card number and PIN.
  • Click on the “My Account” button. Once in your account, click the Holds tab.
  • Select the items you wish to suspend by clicking the box to the left of the title.
  • Click the “Suspend Hold” button above or below your list of holds.
  • A pop-up will appear. You’ll need to choose the dates for the beginning and end of your suspension period.
  • Click Suspend. Once you’ve done that, a calendar icon will appear next to the titles you’ve suspended.

Canceling a hold

If you have holds you know you won’t be able to pick up or don’t want any more, please be sure to cancel them! You can do that the same way you suspend holds - see above - but you’ll click the “Cancel Hold” button instead. 

Not available for hold

There are a few reasons why something might not be available for holds. 

If it’s a reference item or it’s in the People’s Archive at Martin Luther King Jr. Library:

  • For these items, you may be able to use the item while in the library but not check it out. 
  • For something labeled “reference,” visit the branch location where it’s held. 
  • For People’s Archive access, please contact them at (202)727-1213 or

If your library card has expired:

  • Library card accounts expire every 3 years. Once expired, you will not be able to place items on hold. 
  • Getting them renewed is easy - visit your nearest library in person with a photo ID.
  • Once your privilege is renewed, you’ll be able to place holds as usual (except for the reasons mentioned above!).

Returning items

Return borrowed items to any DC Public Library location 24/7. All locations have outdoor book returns. 

All digital materials (eBooks, eAudiobooks) are returned automatically at the end of their lending period. 

Interlibrary Loan requests

Not finding what you want in our Catalog? Interlibrary Loan is a way to request books, microfilm, articles and other material not owned by the DC Public Library. Please visit the Interlibrary Loan page to learn more about this service. 

Audiences: All Ages
A person returns a book into the slot of an outdoor book drop at a library

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