Frequently Asked Questions

There are several ways to access the catalog:
  • The simplest method is to enter terms in the search box on every page. This returns hits from our Library catalog. You can also find results from the Free Library website by clicking on the link to Search in Website under the keyword field.
  • There is also a direct link to the catalog on the homepage, at the bottom of the Find search box. You can search by author, title, subject, keyword, and more. You'll be able to narrow your search by a number of additional criteria, such as location, material type, and date.

You can click databases on the homepage at the bottom of the Find search box to find a comprehensive list of our databases. You can search the resources (including our catalog) individually by clicking their names.

A Free Library card is available at no cost to anyone who lives, works, pays taxes, or goes to school in the City of Philadelphia. In addition, anyone who is 65 or older or who has a valid card with an Access PA sticker from another Pennsylvania library can obtain a Free Library card without charge. Out-of-state residents can obtain a card by paying an annual fee of $50.

If you're 18 or older, you can get a new Library card by clicking sign up now, which you can find on the top of every Free Library page. Cards should arrive in the mail within 5–10 business days. Keep in mind that you'll need to show ID the first time you use your card.

Once you locate the item you want in the catalog, simply click "Place a Hold" on the right side of the item's record page. You'll need to enter your Library card number and PIN, and then you can select the location where you'd like to pick up your item.

You might encounter an error message that says, "Your hold was not successful." This happens in of the following situations:

  • You have ten outstanding reserves.
  • You have an overdue item.
  • You owe $5 or more in fines.
  • You have an expired Library card.
  • You are trying to place a hold on an item that does not circulate.

Find out of one of these applies to you by logging into your account.

In order to renew books and other items, you'll need your Library card number and PIN to log into your Library account. Once you've logged in, you'll see a list of the items you are currently holding. Either click "Renew All" or select only the materials you want to renew and select "Renew Checked Items." Items that can't be renewed will have a gray box next to them.

If you have more than ten items checked out, you'll need to select "View All Items" to see the whole list.

You were most likely assigned a four-digit PIN when you signed up for a Library card. If you can’t remember your PIN, we can e-mail it to you. To change an existing PIN, please login to your account below and select the "Change PIN" button under your address.

You can locate information about any of our branches by clicking Locations in the gray bar on any page. Enter your zip code to find the location nearest to you. You'll find maps, directions, hours, events, and even the histories of our branches.

Find our collection of audiobooks by clicking digital media on the homepage at the bottom of the Find search box.

Browse the Free Library's many events on our calendar page. You can always find this link by clicking "Events" in the gray bar on any page.

The Free Library website now has more content for children than ever. There are a number of specific topics in the green Explore area of our homepage. These topics include books, electronic resources with readings and activities, and web links. Look for these topics to rotate throughout the year.

There are more children's resources in the Ask a Librarian section of our site. You might also want to look at the calendar of children's events at all of our branches. You can always find events for children and teens by clicking "Events" in the gray bar on any page.