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How to Use the Free Library of Philadelphia

Everything you need to know about your local public library!

New to Philly, or just new to using the library? Here’s everything you need to know about getting a library card, checking out materials, and finding the events and programs available to you. The Free Library of Philadelphia system has over 50 branches across the city, and extensive offerings for families and kids. It’s an amazing — and free! — resource to take advantage of.

Get A Library Card

Anyone who lives, works, pays taxes, or goes to school in Philadelphia or lives in Pennsylvania can get a Free Library of Philadelphia card for free. You can apply in-person, online, or by mail for a library card. Adults applying in person should either bring a valid Pennsylvania State ID, or two forms of ID that have the same name and address. The full list of valid forms of ID, as well as what kids under 17 should bring, is available here.

If you apply online, you will need to verify your account online and then can receive a physical card when you visit a library location. You will also need to bring a form of ID when you first borrow physical materials.

Library Locations

Now you have your card! Where can you use it? The Free Library’s central location is Parkway Central Library, located at 1901 Vine Street. There are also more than 50 smaller branches around the city. Find your local library and it’s hours here!

Fines, Fees, & Policies

The Free Library does not charge fines for overdue materials! However, there are costs for lost or destroyed materials in order to replace them.


Anyone over the age of 12 may borrow up to 50 items at a time, and children under 12 years old may borrow up to 20 items at a time. Limits for specific materials are listed here.

Events and Programs

The Free Library has an extensive calendar, with multiple events scheduled every day at different branches around the city. Kid-friendly offerings include weekly play groups, storytimes, craft activities, and more. You can filter their event calendar by age group so everyone in your family — from babies to seniors — can find something fun, educational, and best of all, FREE!


In addition to events, the Free Library offers a wide array of programs and services, including literacy workshops, computer classes, adult education, and special collections. Browse the whole list here.


Check out the Free Library’s active blog to find our more about seasonal offerings, new books, and upcoming events.


Lead photo by J. Smith for VISIT PHILADELPHIA® 


Calendar Editor and Writer for Philadelphia Family. Send tips to eleanor@familyfocus.org.