On November 20, the Berks County Public Libraries Board of Directors approved an update to the system-wide borrowing policy that will expand free borrowing privileges to all Pennsylvania residents. The new policy applies to all 19 system member libraries and will go into effect January 1, 2020.
The change in policy serves as an extension of the Statewide Library Card Program which was created to increase the availability of library materials for Pennsylvanians. Developed in 1985-1986, the program is considered to be highly successful; however, its guidelines limit eligibility for free statewide access to residents living in a municipality that supports a state-aided library. Residents in communities that do not support state-aided libraries are able to register for a library card by paying an annual fee.
“We’re taking the foundation of the Statewide Library Card Program and going one step further,” said Amy Resh, administrator of the Berks County Public Libraries System. “Every member library in our system is state-aided. The library directors and Advisory Board agree if Pennsylvania residents are contributing to our libraries, it is our responsibility to make sure they have access to our materials.”
Under the new borrowing policy, member libraries will issue two card types based on where users live, work, or learn. All Berks County residents and those who work or learn in Berks County will continue to use their current card and have access to all materials and services available from their home library. Out-of-county Pennsylvania residents who don’t work or go to school in Berks County can register for a free, limited-service card which allows users to borrow physical materials from any Berks County Public Library.
Resh anticipates it may take some time for patrons to grow accustomed with the new changes, but she encourages residents to reach out to their local library with any questions. More information about the changes is available online at www.berkslibraries.org/changes-to-the-borrowing-policy.