Thank you for being interested in learning more about the Albany Public Library! Answers to our most common questions can be found below.
If you have any additional questions, you may contact us at any time. We are also happy to answer any of your questions in-person at any of our seven neighborhood branch locations.
What do I need to get an Albany Public Library card?
In most cases, you must be at least 18 years of age, and provide an original local, state, or federally issued photo identification and street address verification (like a piece of business mail). Please see Become A Member for more information.
Where can I use my Albany Public Library card?
Regular Adult and Youth Cards are valid at all public libraries in Albany or Rensselaer counties (some restrictions may apply). Adult eCards and youth MyCards are valid only at Albany Public Library locations.
I owe library fines. Can I still use my card?
APL is a fine-free library! Books, DVDs, CDs, and audiobooks checked out from APL branches do not accrue late fees.
If your new books (14-day loan), new audiobooks (14-day loan), or new DVDs (3-day loan) are more than three days overdue, a hold will be placed on your account and you will not be allowed to borrow more materials until these high-demand items are returned. Other items (28-day loans) will be automatically renewed as long as there are no other patrons waiting for them. This gives you more time to finish reading and return the items to the library.
Items such as museum passes, musical instruments, WiFi hotspots, tablets, laptops, fishing poles, Playaway Views, and bike locks will still incur late fines. Patrons will be continue to be charged for all non-returned, lost, or damaged items.
If your fees are $10.00 or less, or if you are on a payment plan approved at an APL location, you can still check out materials and use the public computers at all of our branches.
Please note that other public libraries in Albany or Rensselaer County may have different fine thresholds and you may have to honor those thresholds when you visit them.
I can’t pay the full amount of my fine. Can I still borrow library materials?
If the fine is more than $20.00 and you cannot pay it immediately, a payment plan may be arranged. You may pay ½ of the total amount and continue to check out materials, provided that the balance is paid in full within 30 days and no additional fines are accrued.
Payment plans will be honored by other APL locations, but not other UHLS libraries. Customers on Payment Plans will be allowed to use APL computer resources as they would if their card was in good standing.
To set up a payment plan, please visit any of our neighborhood branch locations and speak with a circulation desk staff member.
How can I pay my fees online?
Use our SmartPay system to pay library fines and fees online using a credit card. Please note that all online transactions are final.
The “Transactions” tab on SmartPay shows all payments made online. Only online payments will be shown in the “My History” tab. You will not see payments made in person at APL branch libraries.
If you have trouble using SmartPay or are unable to log in, try these solutions:
- Clear your web browser’s cache
- Clear your web browser’s history
- Clear your web browser’s cookies
- Wait for about 10 to 15 minutes, then try using SmartPay again.
- If none of the above works, try a different web browser
Can my family member or friend use my card to check-out items when I’m not present?
No. A library card may only be used by the cardholder it was issued to.
How old does my child have to be to apply for a library card?
Any youth under the age of 18 can apply for a regular Youth Card or our MyCard.
What is the difference between a regular Youth Card and the MyCard?
Youth Card holders may borrow up to 100 items at a time (some restrictions apply) and access our public computers, our downloadable books and magazines, and our research databases. Youth cards accrue fees just like Adult Resident Cards. Albany Public Library Youth Cards are able to be used at any of our neighborhood branch locations and any public library in Albany or Rensselaer County.
MyCard holders may borrow up to 3 items at a time and access our public computers, our downloadable books and magazines, and our research databases. There are no late fees if items get returned after their due dates, but there will be replacement fees for any lost items. MyCard is valid only at APL locations.
Please see Become a Member for more information.
What is the difference between a regular Adult Card and the eCard?
With an Adult Card, you can check out up to 100 items at a time (some restrictions apply) and access our public computers, our downloadable books and magazines, and our research databases. An adult card is valid at all public libraries in Albany or Rensselaer counties (some restrictions may apply).
An eCard grants you access to just our public computers, our downloadable books and magazines, and our research databases. The benefits of an eCard include no late fees and no checkout lines. The eCard is valid only at Albany Public Library locations.
Where can I return Albany Public Library items, and can I return items from another library at Albany Public Library?
You can return any item from a public library in Albany and Rensselaer County to any public library in Albany or Rensselaer County.
How many materials can I check out?
Regular cardholders can check out up to 100 items at a time with the following restrictions:
- Books: up to 100
- CDs (music): up to 10 at a time
- CDs (audiobooks): up to 10 at a time
- DVDs: up to 10 at a time
- Museum passes: up to 3 at a time
- eBooks/eAudiobooks/Streaming Video: up to 10 at a time combined
- Digital Magazines: unlimited
How long can I keep library materials checked out?
- Fiction and nonfiction books: 4 weeks
- New nonfiction books: 2 weeks
- New fiction books: 2 week
- Audiobooks: 4 weeks
- New Audiobooks: 2 weeks
- Magazines: 1 week
- Music CDs: 1 week
Feature Films: 3 days
TV series and nonfiction: 1 week
- Children’s books: 4 weeks
- Children’s holiday books: 2 weeks
- Select children’s DVDs: 1 week
- Museum passes: 1 week
- eBooks/eAudiobooks: 3 weeks
- Streaming Video: 1 week
- Digital Magazines: unlimited
Can I renew items online?
Yes. Please see Request and Renew Items for physical materials and Downloadable Books & Magazines for eBooks and digital audiobooks.
Do you accept book donations?
You can drop off gently used book donations to the Better World Books bins in the parking lots at our Delaware Branch & Pine Hills Branch. For more information, see Better World Books Donations.
Can I make suggestions of items I would like the library to purchase?
Sure! Stop by or call any of our neighborhood branch locations, or Ask a Librarian online.
What is the PIN to sign on to a computer?
When we issued your card, we assigned you a 4-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN). You can change your PIN online, or you can stop by any of our neighborhood branch locations for assistance.
Do I need a library card to use a computer?
Visitors without a library card can use the public computers at all Albany Public Library locations by requesting a free visitor’s pass.