Library Cards and Patron Privacy

Your Free Waltham Public Library Card: Waltham Public Library cards are free. A library card gives borrowing and computer use privileges at the Library and provides access to the Library’s online subscriptions from any Internet connection.

Your library card is valuable: Library cards, card numbers and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) are issued to individuals and should be used only by the person to whom they were issued, whether for borrowing material or using Library computers. You are responsible for all materials borrowed on your card unless you report the card lost or stolen.

The Waltham Public Library, as part of the Minuteman Library Network, allows you to have up to 150 items checked out at one time. A Waltham Public Library card is valid at over 40 MLN Libraries.

You will be required to show your Library card (or photo identification) to borrow Library materials.


A library card will be issued to you when one of the following is presented in person:

  • Valid Massachusetts driver’s license, or
  • Valid Massachusetts state identification card

OR, any one identification from EACH of the following two lists:

  1. Current Picture Identification (ID) – must include name and photo:
  • Passport
  • Alien Registration Card
  • Government issued cards, such as Military ID
  • University or school ID
  • Out-of-state driver’s license
  • State issued photo ID including welfare, Medicaid or FID card
  1. Address Verification – must include applicant’s name and Massachusetts address*
  • Imprinted bank check or deposit slip
  • Utility bill dated within the last 30 days
  • Postmarked first class letter dated within the last 30 days
  • School schedule with your name and address printed on it
  • Letter verifying residency and mailing address dated within the last 30 days from a social service provider, temporary employer that provides housing, or a short-term residence.
  • Postcard mailed to you from the Library
  • Lease Agreement

*a Post Office Box or business address is not sufficient – we must also have your current residential address.

Most Library cards are valid for five years. All Library cards can be renewed easily at the checkout desk by verbally confirming your information. If you have moved, you are required to notify Library staff.

Applicants under the age of 18

If applicant is under 18 years old and cannot meet the ID and address requirements, a parent or guardian must provide proof of identification and address. The child or teen must be present for a parent or legal guardian to get them a library card. (Minuteman Policy).

If proof of address or ID is not provided, or no grown up with an ID that reflects the child’s address is present, we will issue a library card valid for 1 month only and mail them a post card to bring back as proof of address.


If you are an out-of-state resident and you

  1. work in Massachusetts, or
  2. attend school in Massachusetts,* or
  3. own property in Massachusetts, or
  4. are temporarily living in Massachusetts for more than two months, you may be issued a Library card with a 1 year expiration date, with sufficient identification.

Per Minuteman policy: Out-of-state residents must provide identification showing their home/permanent address. Property owners must provide verification such as a tax bill, utility bill, etc. for their Massachusetts property. Out-of-state residents working in Massachusetts must provide their work address.

*Students living in MA are considered residents and will follow rules for regular cards.


If you cannot provide proof of address, you may receive a Computer Access Only card, with photo ID. Your card will be valid for 1 year. If you can show proof of a permanent address in the future, your card can be converted to allow borrowing privileges.

RESIDENTS OF DECERTIFIED MUNICIPALITIES Residents of cities and towns with libraries decertified by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) may not obtain a library card or borrow items in Waltham. We take this action reluctantly. The Waltham Public Library Board of Trustees cannot ask Waltham taxpayers to make up for the refusal of other cities and towns to properly fund their libraries. Loss of service is one way to help decertified libraries build support to restore their budgets. This policy affects all individuals with a home address in an MBLC decertified municipality.


Adopted by Library Trustees 6/13/19

Chosen Name Policy

Names are central to our lives and identities. If for any reason you want to change the name on your card to one that is not your legal name, stop by any library desk and speak to a staff member.

Your chosen name will appear:

  • To staff when your library card is scanned.
  • In all email communications from the library.
  • When you log into your account online.
  • In the Minuteman Library Network mobile app.
  • On hold pickup slips (unless you have created an alias for added privacy).

Your legal name will be kept as a note in our records. If you have changed your legal name, just bring your updated ID or name change documents to the library and we will remove your old legal name entirely.


Library Cards and Patron Privacy Policy

Waltham Public Library follows Mass General Lawi and the American Library Association’s policyii on patron privacy and confidentiality, in order to encourage free and open access to information and ideas.

Please note that privacy rights are in effect when a library card is issued, regardless of age.

Personal information about the card holder cannot be shared unless the card holder is present, even for children under 18.

  • No one can get information about what’s on a library card that isn’t their own (guardian/parent/spouse included).
  • When getting a library card, that person takes sole responsibility for items checked out.
  • We cannot confirm use of/visits to the library or a program.

Privacy is a wonderful right. Every family should discuss the importance of the right to privacy at a library, and decide together what works for them. Every family is different. We are always happy to help you to find a balance that is right for your family.

i That part of the records of a public library which reveals the identity and intellectual pursuits of a person using such library shall not be a public record as defined by clause Twenty-sixth of section seven of chapter four. MGL Chapter 78, Section 7

ii In a library (physical or virtual), the right to privacy is the right to open inquiry without having the subject of one’s interest examined or scrutinized by others. Confidentiality exists when a library is in possession of personally identifiable information about users and keeps that information private on their behalf. Confidentiality extends to “information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted” (ALA Code of Ethics), including, but not limited to: database search records, reference questions and interviews, circulation records, interlibrary loan records, information about materials downloaded or placed on “hold” or “reserve,” and other personally identifiable information about uses of library materials, programs, facilities, or services.


Skip to content