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Get a Card

Online Library Card Application

Apply online for either a Virtual or a Full Use Library Card.

Both provide access to all of our online resources including Wisconsin's Digital Library's eBooks, audiobooks, and movies. The Full Use card has some additional requirements but will also allow you to log in to LINKcat to place holds on physical materials. See the Apply for a Library Card Online page for details.

How can I get a library card?

Apply for a library card at any Madison library. You'll need to fill out an application form and bring photo I.D. AND proof of current residence

A driver’s license with current address is the easiest way to apply. If you do not have that, we will accept a photo ID plus:

  • checkbook with name and current address printed on it - or-
  • a current lease with your name and address on it -or- 
  • a piece of current mail IF the envelope has your name, current address and a postmark dated within the last 30 days.

If your identification has a P.O. Box or business address, you still must show proof of your current home address.

Application forms:

The first card issued by Madison Public Library is free. You can request one free replacement card every 12 months. Additional replacement cards cost $1.00.

If I don’t live in Madison, can I still borrow items?

If you are a resident of a county in the South Central Library System (Columbia, Dane, Green, Sauk, Adams, Wood and Portage counties) and do not have a library card from your local library, you can apply for a card at any Madison Public Library.

If you have a card from another library in the South Central Library System, you can use that card at any of the Madison locations.

If you are not a resident of a SCLS county but are a resident of the state of Wisconsin (with the exception of Milwaukee County residents) you may be able to borrow materials from the Madison Public Library. To acquire a reciprocal borrowing card, you must show:

  • Identification with your current address on it
  • A valid library card from your local library

You may return borrowed items to any participating library.

Borrowing privileges may not extend to electronic content such as databases or eBooks.

I forgot my card, but I still want to check out material, what do I do?

You may show photo identification for a one-time temporary checkout.

What should I do if I lose my library card?

If your card is lost or stolen, report it immediately to the Circulation Department at the Central Library, 266-6357 or your nearest local library. If someone presents your card before you report it lost or stolen, you are responsible for all the materials checked out on it. If a card has been lost or stolen and you wish to get a replacement card, you must show photo ID in person at any Madison location. You can request one free replacement card every 12 months. Additional replacement cards cost $1.00.

Does the library need to know if I’ve moved?

Yes - please notify us of the change so your records can be updated. Call the Central Circulation Department at 266-6357 or your local neighborhood library to have your record updated.

Do library cards expire?

Yes. Library cards expire every 4 years.

How do I renew my expired library card? 

Visit any Madison Public Library location or South Central Library System member library to renew your card.  If the library card is expired less than 6 months, photo ID is required to renew the card for 4 more years.  If the library card has been expired for more than 6 months, photo ID and proof of address are required to renew the card for 4 more years. 

Do you offer "organization cards" or temporary cards?

Yes. If you are checking items out for your organization and not for personal use, you may use an organization card. This works the same as a regular library card, but does not leave an individual responsible for items checked out to an entire organization.

You can also submit your application for an organization card online at

Temporary cards or limited use cards are sometimes issued. Please call 608-266-6357 for more details.

If I don't have a library card, can I still use the library's computers?

Yes, check at your local library for an internet access card. You will need to show current photo ID but do not need to live in the Madison area.