The circulating collection offers patrons the opportunity to check out books, magazines, audio and video cassettes, audio books, compact and digital video discs, Blu-rays, and computer software throughout the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library System. These materials are available to borrowers in good standing with a valid library card.
This page answers frequently asked questions about borrowing privileges. Additional questions can be directed to our Contact Us service or by phone at (716) 858-8900.
- How do I get a library card?
- How do I access my library account?
- What happens if my library card is lost, stolen, expires or needs to be replaced?
- How many items am I able to borrow at one time?
- How long may I keep borrowed materials?
- How can I renew library materials?
- How much is the fine for overdue library materials?
- Can I donate a replacement copy if I lose or damage Library material?
- Can I get a refund if I find an item that was lost and paid for?
- Can a credit card be used to pay fines and fees?
- Where can I return items?
- Is there a way to reserve popular or difficult to find items?
Library cards may be obtained and used at any B&ECPL facility. Persons who reside permanently in Erie County, temporary residents who are in the County for short terms and specified non-residents are eligible for borrowing privileges provided they meet acceptable identification requirements. To see a detailed description of each classification and the acceptable forms of identification, select the following option that best describes you.
- Permanent resident
- Temporary resident
- Student non-resident
- Non-residents who own property or work in Erie County
- Other residents of New York State
To download a library card application, select the card below for which you qualify. The application may be filled out and brought (with valid I.D.) to any B&ECPL facility for processing. All applications must be signed in the presence of authorized library staff.
To access the applications, the PDF (Portable Document Format) needs to be downloaded and printed.
These are PDF documents, which require the Adobe Acrobat Reader for viewing. It may already be on your computer. If you need a copy of the Reader, please acquire it free from www.adobe.com.
- Adult Application
- Adult Application (large print)
- Adult Application in Spanish
- Youth Application
- Youth Application (large print)
- Youth Application in Spanish
- Proxy Application
- Out-Of-County Application
- Agency Application
- Internet and Personal Computing Access
What happens if my library card is lost, stolen, expires or needs to be replaced?
The registered borrower is responsible for all use of the library card. Possession of a valid card implies authorized use. Borrowers should immediately report lost or stolen cards to any B&ECPL location. Expired cards may be updated at any B&ECPL location with proper identification required. Library cards that are damaged due to normal wear and tear will be replaced at no charge. There is a $1.00 replacement fee for lost cards.
How many items am I able to borrow at one time?
Regular borrowers are allowed to check out as many as 50 items at one time. Check with your local library or the Library's e-Branch at (716) 858-8900 for possible restrictions, which apply to other borrower profiles or type of material.
How long may I keep borrowed materials?
B&ECPL standard loan periods are 21 days and 7 days. The length of time will vary depending on the type of material borrowed. The loan periods for some of the most popular item types are as follows:
|Books and Audio Books||21 days|
|New Fiction||7 days|
|Adult Magazines||7 days|
|DVDs, Blu-Rays, and Video Cassettes||7 days|
|Music cassettes, Compact discs, Exam Books and Computer Software||7 days|
|Downloadable Adobe EPUB eBooks, Adobe PDF eBooks, OverDrive MP3 Audiobooks, and OverDrive WMA Audiobooks||7 days or 14 days|
|Downloadable OverDrive Videos||3 days, 5 days, 7 days or 14 days|
How Can I Renew Library Materials?
Providing the account is in good standing, items may be renewed that (a) have not already been renewed twice and/or (b) are not on a request list. NOTE: when fines/ fees on a library card exceed $10.00 or more than 15 items are overdue, the account is blocked. Checkouts and renewals are not allowed. Loan periods are either 7 or 21 days and are calculated from the date of the renewal transaction, not the original due dates. Items may be renewed online or by telephone:
Telephone Renewals may be made by dialing 858-8454. To learn more about the features available using the telephone (Voice Automation System) option click here.
How much is the fine for overdue library materials?
A fine will be added to your account for each day an item is kept past its due date including any closed days. Adult and young adult materials are charged 25 cents per day per title and juvenile materials are charged 10 cents per day per title. Fines for adult DVDs, Blu-rays and VHS Tapes are $1.00 per day. Other rates apply for certain media types including computer software and art prints. Restocking and/or processing fees may also apply. Click here for the list of fines and fees.
The issuance of overdue notices is a courtesy to borrowers, not a legal requirement. Non-receipt of a notice does not eliminate liability for outstanding materials or fines.
Notification for overdue materials is available by e-mail or an automated telephone system. To select your preferred method of notification and provide updated information, complete the online submission form or visit your local library.
The B&ECPL contracts with an outside service to assist with the recovery of outstanding overdue materials, fines and fees. Borrowers with outstanding balances in excess of $25.00 are subject to collections procedures, a service fee and credit reporting.
Can I donate a replacement copy if I lose or damage Library material?
Yes. The library will accept a replacement provided it is an exact match for the lost or damaged item and is in good condition. A restocking fee will be charged.
Can I get a refund if I find an item that was lost and paid for?
To receive a refund for a lost item, you must return the item with the Library receipt(s) showing full payment. Acceptable proof of payment is the Library cash register receipt(s) or Library eCommerce receipt(s). Overdue fines will be deducted from the refund amount. Processing fees are not refundable.
Can a credit card be used to pay fines and fees online?
For your convenience you are now able to pay Library Fines and Fees online 24/7. Full or partial payments may be made. To view a list of Library Fines and Fees, access your My Account page using a library card number and PIN. The amount that can be paid is the total of Fines and Fees listed at the end of your My Account record. The amount that can be paid excludes fines for overdue items that have not yet been returned to the Library.
Accounts owing more than $10.00 in fines/fees or having more than 15 overdue items are blocked from library transactions (including online renewals and request placement).
MasterCard, Visa and Discover are all accepted.
To pay your outstanding Library Bills now, click here.
Where can I return items?
All materials may be returned to any library in the B&ECPL System, regardless of where they were checked out. Most B&ECPL libraries have outdoor drop boxes available as a courtesy for 24-hour returns. Materials returned in a drop box will be assessed fines for ALL DAYS past the due date.
Is there a way to reserve popular or difficult to find items?
The Library Catalog's request system allows you to reserve popular items or items not owned by your local library. A $1.00 fee is added to patron accounts for requesting each DVD, Blu-ray or VHS tape, including family-oriented, feature-length films. A $.25 fee is added to patron accounts for requesting print and audio material (juvenile items excluded). For items not picked up, an unclaimed hold fee is assessed 8 days from the date notification is sent to the borrower. The unclaimed hold fee is $1.00 for all media items and $.50 for all print items (including adult, young adult and juvenile). The Library card used to place the request must be the library card used to check out the item.
If you have a valid library card and four-digit PIN, you may request materials online. To place a request, you must first locate the item in the Library’s Catalog. When you identify the title you wish to request, Click on the “Request Title” icon on the left-hand side of the page. Complete the My Account log in and submit your request. The Catalog’s Help section contains detailed instructions on how to place a request. Detailed information may be found here.
Notification for request items is available by e-mail or an automated telephone system. To select your preferred method of notification and provide updated information, complete the online submission form or visit your local library.
How do I access my library account?
You may check your own library account to renew materials and to verify outstanding, reserved and overdue items as well as any accumulated fines/fees. Accounts may be accessed with a proper Personal Identification Number (PIN) at any library terminal or remotely through the B&ECPL's website. Patrons must have a PIN when registering for this service. To create or reset a PIN, click here. The B&ECPL does not keep PINs on record.
How to apply for a library card
- New York State driver's license with current street address. [Note: A license with a Post Office Box or a commercially available personal mailbox (for example a PMB available through Mail Boxes Etc.) is not acceptable, as it does not prove residence in Erie County. Applicants are required to provide another form of ID verifying address or proving that they work or own property in Erie County.]
- Picture identification card with name, current address and signature
- Dwelling lease
- Voter's registration card with current address
Or a combination of one from each of the following sections:
- Current utility bill (issued within 30 days in the name of the applicant)
- Recently postmarked (within 30 days) envelope addressed to the applicant
- Automobile registration (in the name of the applicant)
- Signed credit card
- Signed social security card
- Signed school identification card
For youth under the age of 17, or youth between 17 and 18 years of age who do not have proper identification, proof of identification as required for permanent residents must be provided by the parent/guardian. The parent/guardian must be present when the application is submitted.
- Proof of home (permanent) address using any of the identification acceptable for permanent residents
- Proof of local address or of assignment or employment in Erie County
- Proof of home (permanent) address using any of the identification acceptable for permanent resident's address
- Proof of address in Erie County
- Current identification card or semester tuition receipt
Student cards will be renewed each semester.
- Current pay stub with name and address of employer and name of applicant
- Letter from employer on company letterhead attesting to employment
- Tax receipt or other evidence of property ownership
Other Residents of New York State (Effective April 18, 2005)
Other residents of New York State are eligible for borrowing privileges at a charge. Individual library cards are issued for a $20 fee and are valid for a six-month period. Some restrictions may apply.
You need one of the following:
- New York State driver's license with current street address. [Note: A license with a Post Office Box or a commercially available personal mailbox (for example a PMB available through Mail Boxes Etc.) is not acceptable, as it does not prove residence. Applicants are required to provide another form of ID verifying address.]
- Valid picture identification card with name, current address and signature
- Dwelling lease
- Voter's registration card with current address
Persons not able to furnish the identifications noted above may consult with their local library or contact the Central Library at (716) 858-8900 regarding acceptable alternatives.
Internet only library cards are available. There are no borrowing privileges with this type of card, and they are issued for a limited duration.