If you want to borrow books and other materials from your local library, you will need a library card. If you come prepared with the right materials, applying should be easy and quick, and you can usually get started as a borrower right away. Since most libraries have interlibrary loan agreements, getting a library card at one branch will allow you to borrow materials from other branches, all, typically, for free.
Most libraries require that you provide two items: proof of identity, and proof of residence. As a general rule, you must be a resident of the region in which a library is located to get a library card. There are some exceptions; some major libraries may let you get a library card if you live in the library's state or province, and others may let borrowers purchase library cards while they're visiting. In most cases, you can access public library materials without a library card, you just can't take them out of the library.
A driver's license, military ID card, or passport are the most common types of proof of your identity. Some libraries may have more flexible rules on what they will accept, while others necessarily require a government-issued photo ID. For the proof of residence requirement, a formal piece of mail which has been sent to you, like a utilities bill, is generally required. A copy of a lease agreement may also suffice. If your proof of identification includes an old address, you should tell the libraria.
You will also likely need to fill out a brief form for the library with your name and contact information. The form may be accompanied with a brochure about borrowing privileges so that you know what kind of media you can check out and for how long. Hang on to this brochure, as it may come in useful for you later. Once your library card is issued, you need to sign it, if required, and then you'll be ready to start checking out materials and viewing special collections.
If you lose your library card or it is damaged, the library may impose a replacement fee. You will also have to pay fees and fines for media which is returned late or damaged. Which actions result in late fees and other penalties such as a loss of borrowing privileges may be provided by the librarian. Review these so that you know how to avoid them.