Borrowing Policy

How do I apply for a library card?
A valid library card must be presented to borrow materials.

To apply for a library card, see the guidelines below:

  1. Anyone may apply in person at the main library or branches for a library card with presentation of a photo identification*.
  2. Organizations must submit a list of individuals authorized to use the card along with their signatures. The director of the organization must sign the registration form.
  3. Residents of group homes must present a letter of residency from the director of the home written on letterhead from the group home.
  4. Children 17 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who must co-sign the registration form and present their own identification*.

Card validation: A library card is valid for 4 years and subject to an annual address check which requires presentation of a valid ID*.

Lost or stolen card: Replacement cards cost $1.00 and require presentation of a valid ID*.

*Type of identification accepted: A valid photo ID with current address or a valid photo ID with a current utility bill.

Loan Periods

  1. Print and audio materials may be borrowed for 2 weeks.
  2. Videos and DVDs may be borrowed for 1 week unless otherwise specified
  3. Museum passes may be borrowed as specified for each museum.
  4. Teachers may borrow items with a “Teacher’s card” up to 6 weeks. Use of the collection with a “Teacher’s card” is subject to specific rules. Contact Circulation Desk for more details**.
  5. Reference material does not circulate

Loan Limits

  • Patrons may have a total of 35 items on their card at any given time.
  • Non-fiction works are limited to 3 items per subject.
  • Magazines are limited to 15 per card.
  • Audiocassettes, records, and music CD’s are limited to 6 for each format.
  • Videocassettes and DVDs are limited to 2 items at any given time.
  • Museum passes are limited to 1 per family.


Patrons are allowed 2 renewals either in person at the circulation desk or by telephone. Items may not be available for renewal when another patron has placed a “hold” on that particular item. Patrons may also place holds via the Web at with a valid library card and knowledge of their PIN **.

Patrons may reserve (place a hold) in person at the library by using the online catalog with a valid SAILS library card. They may also access the online catalog via the web at with a valid library card and knowledge of their PIN **.

Circulation staff will also place holds for patrons at the circulation desk or via the telephone.

**Contact Circulation Desk of the New Bedford main library for assistance with the needed information at 508- 991-6275.

Late Fees

For print and audio items, fines accrue at a rate of $.05 per day to a maximum fine of $2.00 per item.

For videos and DVDs, fines accrue at a rate of $1.00 per day to the maximum of $5.00 per item.

For museum passes, fines accrue at a rate of $5.00 per day to the maximum of $25.00 per pass.

Patrons who have fines of $10.00 and over will be blocked. Borrowing privileges will be restored only when fines are paid.

Interlibrary Loan

SAILS Network Loan Borrowing Services for New Bedford Free Public Library Users:

In the event you do not find what you need at your library, you may search the SAILS online catalog, the “NetLibrary”, and the “Virtual Catalog” available at with a valid library card from the SAILS network, you may use this service.

Interlibrary Loan Request Form

In the event that you do not find what you need in the online catalogs listed above, you may use this form to submit an online interlibrary loan request for the item you cannot find. The main library in New Bedford will contact you when item is available. Item can be picked up at any New Bedford library. This service is available only to patrons with a valid SAILS network library card. Call Reference Desk 508- 991-6280 or e-mail at .

Exceptions: Reference items, microforms and “lease books” are not available for Interlibrary Loans.

Course Reserves (if applicable)