Borrower Eligibility and Responsibilities Policy


The Seattle Public Library provides circulating materials for public use. This policy assures that eligible borrowers have maximum access to the Library's circulating collection. The Seattle Public Library board of trustees authorizes the Executive Director and Chief Librarian to develop and implement effective procedures and guidelines in accordance with this policy.

Policy Statement

Borrower Eligibility

The following individuals and groups are eligible for free borrowing privileges:

  • Residents of Seattle, their spouses and underage dependents
  • Nonresidents who pay property tax in Seattle, their spouses and underage dependents
  • Nonresidents employed in Seattle, their spouses and underage dependents
  • Nonresidents attending school in Seattle
  • Businesses located in Seattle
  • Individuals taking responsibility for the borrowing activity of schools, day cares, and nonprofit organizations located in Seattle
  • Other borrowers eligible under the terms of a reciprocal borrowing agreement between the Library and their home library
  • Eligible individuals participating in national or statewide programs sponsored by The Seattle Public Library.

Borrowing privileges are available for a fee to the following groups:

  • Individuals living in Washington State who do not qualify in other ways
  • Businesses in Washington State, outside of Seattle
  • Temporary residents

To obtain borrowing privileges, applicants must provide verification of identity and eligibility. Applicants can obtain more specific information on the Library's public website and/or by asking a Library staff member.

Applicants are generally required to sign their applications, or when applying online, appearing at the Library in person to sign for their borrower card(s). Appropriate arrangements will be made for those who are unable to sign for themselves or who are physically unable to come to the Library.

Borrower Responsibilities
A borrower is responsible for:

  • All use made of the borrower's card(s)
  • All items borrowed and for charges incurred through use of the card(s)
  • Reporting loss or theft of borrower’s card(s) to the Library and all use of the card(s) until after the loss is reported
  • Informing the Library of changes to the borrower's name, address, and other contact information

The loan periods for Library materials align with standard library practices and are intended to maximize public access. Adequate notice will be provided for any changes in loan period regulations.

Specific information about loan periods and fees is available in each Library location and on the Library's website.

Failure to return borrowed materials or to pay replacement fees may result in the loss of borrowing privileges. Failure to return materials may also result in legal proceedings pursuant to state and local laws.

The Executive Director and Chief Librarian is responsible for the development and maintenance of effective procedures to implement the provisions of this policy.

This policy applies to all individuals and entities seeking Library borrowing privileges.

Related Laws, Policies and Procedures
Administrative Procedure, Loaning of Library Materials.


Adopted: April 27, 2023
Supersedes Policy: Supersedes Borrower Eligibility and Responsibilities adopted by the Library Board December 2019; Effective Date January 2, 2020; Supersedes Borrower Eligibility and Responsibilities revised April 22, 2015. Previously titled Materials Loan Policy. Current version supersedes Materials Loan Policy adopted Jan. 17, 1977 and revised on Jan. 14, 1980; June 24, 2009; Sept. 22, 2010; and Aug. 28, 2013.