Library Card FAQs

What is a valid Houston Public Library card?

A valid library card is one that has not expired and has a total of less than $10 in fines and fees pending. 

Does my card expire?

Yes, cards expire after three years.

How do I renew my card?

Visit your nearest library location and bring a photo ID with your current address.

Why is my card blocked?

Your card may have expired, or you may have more than $10 in fines. Call 832-393-2222 for account information. Once you renew your card or reduce your fines to under $10, the block will be removed. If your card is "In Collection," you will need to pay all fines before the block will be removed. If your card has expired, you will get a "privilege expired" error message when you try to renew items. An error message that says "no more charges allowed" usually requires a change in your account status which can be done in person.

What is a PIN and why do I need it?

PINs (Personal Identification Numbers) are codes of 4 or more digits that must be used when logging in to your account or checking items out at a self-check machine. You will also need it to renew your materials online or by phone. The use of PINs more securely protects you and your information.

How do I change my PIN?

You can change your PIN after you log in to your account online or in person at any library location. You will need to bring a photo ID for PIN change requests made in person.

What If I lose or forget my PIN?

If you lose or forget your PIN, you can visit any library location with your library card and ID and staff can look up your PIN and/or reset it for you. You can also use the “Forgot PIN?” link on the My Account login screen. You will be asked for your library card number. The system will then send a message to the email address we have on record for you with a link to change your PIN.

How many items can I check out at a time?

You may borrow up to a total of 50 items at one time. Format limits: DVDs are limited to up to 5 DVDs checked out at one time.

What can I check out with my library card?

Your library card allows you to borrow books, e-books, e-audiobooks, CDs, DVDs. Your library card also provides access to our Premium Resources.

How can I see a list of all the items I have ever checked out?

"My Checkout History" is an optional feature that allows you to keep a list your checked out items. Let staff know when you register for your library card that you would like this feature turned on for your account. Then log into your account and check the “Show My Checkout History” box under Preferences. You will be able to see all the items you check out from this point forward. Any items checked out before this option was turned on will not show up on the list.

How long can I keep library materials?

Check-out period is 3 weeks, with the option of one renewal, for a total loan period of 6 weeks. DVDs cannot be renewed. Loan periods for e-books and e-audiobooks vary.

How do I renew my library materials?

You can renew your materials online through the "My Account" link, which can be found at the top of every page on the website. Materials currently charged on your account will be renewed for three weeks from the date the renewal is done. Please make a note of the new due date. It is recommended that you print a copy of your account after renewing. You may also renew items by phone at 832-393-2280.

What materials cannot be renewed?

  • Items on library cards with fines or fees of $10 or more
  • Items on library cards that have expired
  • Items already renewed once
  • Items checked out for the maximum loan period of six weeks
  • Items on hold for another borrower
  • Items borrowed through our Interlibrary Loan Service
  • DVDs

Where can I return materials?

You can return your materials to any HPL location. Most HPL locations have book drops for your convenience after hours.

How much are overdue fines?

Please see our Fines & Fee Schedule.
Please note: Library cards may not be used when the amount due reaches $10, until payment is made. Failure to pay your fines may result in your account going to a Collection Agency and possible credit bureau action.

Can I pay my fines online?

Yes, fines can be paid online through the My Account feature.

November 2015
HPL has implemented a new product for processing fines and fees paid online called ProPay.

  • ProPay is PCI compliant, which means it is more secure;
  • paying with PayPal is no longer an option;

there is a non-refundable $0.50 transaction fee for online credit card payments;

  • minimum credit card payment is $1.

What if I lose or damage something I borrow?

If library materials are not returned within 30 days of the due date, you will receive a billing notice from the Library. In addition to the replacement cost of the lost item, you will be charged a $10 non-refundable processing fee for each cataloged item or a $5 non-refundable partial processing fee for each uncataloged item that is lost. The same charges apply to items returned with serious damage. Failure to pay your bill may result in your account going to a Collection Agency and possible credit bureau action.The library cannot accept replacement items in lieu of lost items. Items returned with damage that warrants withdrawal from the collection will be treated as lost.

Do I have to have my card with me to check out materials?

If you have forgotten to bring your card, you can usually check out by presenting a photo ID with your current address. The address on your ID must match the address in your borrower record. You must have either your photo ID or your library card in order to check out. To speed checkout, we strongly suggest that you bring your library card with you; if the automated system is down for any reason, we will be unable to access your record without the account number and you will be unable to check out.

What if I lose my library card?

You are responsible for all items checked out and all fines and fees charged to your account up until the day you report to the Library that the card has been lost or stolen. To prevent others from charging materials to your account, report your lost or stolen library card to us as soon as possible. Staff can issue a new replacement card the next time you visit the library. 

For more information about your library account, call 832-393-2222 or email circinfo@hpl.lib.tx.us.

How do I get a TexShare CARD?

TexShare is a cooperative program designed to improve service to Texans. Members include public libraries that belong to the regional library systems, academic libraries, and libraries of clinical medicine. With a TexShare Card, a library patron may directly borrow books, music, movies and more from any other participating TexShare library, just as if he or she were card-holder there. Only staff at the Central Library can issue a TexShare card. You must be a city of Houston resident. You must have an HPL card that is at least 6 months old, valid and no outstanding fines. Texshare card can also be renewed at the circulation desk.

A Texshare card does not gurantee that you will be able to borrow materials from other libraries. You can then get a library card from a Texshare participating library.

In most cases, it is a good idea to use library's interlibrary loan service to borrow materials from another library.

Texas residents and non-residents with TexShare card must first register as an HPL library card member. More information is available on Texas State Library and Archives Commission website.