How to get free access to 3 Texas libraries outside Austin
FEEDING THE READING ADDICTION
We all know that Austinites can get their free library cards at the Austin Public Library. But did you know you can get access to libraries that aren’t just in the APL system? For the libraries in Wells Branch, Round Rock, and Houston, you only need to be a Texas resident!
Having access to multiple library systems throughout Texas isn't as excessive as it might seem. First, you gain access to books that may not be as easily available from one library system to another. Second, it can be a great cost-saving measure; personally, I saved over $550 in 2022 by using public libraries instead of buying new or used books.
If you read a lot of ebooks or audiobooks, Libby is one of the best apps to find thousands of titles for free. If Libby’s waitlist is too long for a title in Austin, it might be easier to find the same title in Round Rock or Houston for a shorter wait. Additionally, you might find books in another system that aren't offered by APL. Sometimes, APL has a majority of a series online but is missing a few titles, and another library system will have what you're missing, which saves you from purchasing a random audiobook or ebook.
Here’s a quick refresher on how you can apply for an Austin Public Library card, and how you can join three additional awesome library systems outside the city. Let's all make it a goal to read a little more this year, shall we?
Austin Public Library
Austin residents, those who live in the Full Purpose jurisdiction, and students at any k-12 school (including daycare, private, charter, and home schools) in Travis County can apply online for a library card for free. After completing the online application, you can visit any library branch with your valid photo ID and proof of residence to complete the registration. Adult resident cards are valid for three years from their issuance date.
Round Rock Public Library
All Texas residents can apply for a free library card in Round Rock. For those who can visit the new library building in person, all you need is a valid Texas ID or a valid government issued ID and proof of Texas residency. Just for Round Rock residents who can’t make it to the library in-person due to a disability, illness, or inadequate transportation, the library offers a wonderful Library At Home service to deliver materials to your private residence.
Wells Branch Community Library
This is another library where all Texas residents qualify for a card for free, but you do have to apply in person with a valid ID and proof of residency. As a note, this library is a part of the Central Texas Digital Consortium, which is the same association that several other Central Texas cities use for their ebooks and audiobooks.
Houston Public Library
This library is special in that not only can you apply for their card without needing to live in Houston, but you also can apply online! You’ll get instant access to hundreds of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, music, and more with their digital MY Link card. And if you’re ever in the Houston area, you can bring your valid Texas ID to any of their branches to get your hands on a physical card, if you're the type that loves to collect them.