Library Cards & Borrowing

Getting a Library Card

Anyone who lives in Massachusetts can get a library card at the Watertown Free Public Library.

Ways to Apply

Apply in person in the library, or apply online.

Valid ID(s)

Before creating a new patron record, the individual must obtain the following:

  • Current, valid Massachusetts Driver’s license or Massachusetts State Identification Card with current address. 


  • One document from Section 1 AND one document from Section 2 below.

Section 1. Proof of identification –current or expired (i.e. driver’s license, passport, school ID) 

  • Passport 
  • Alien Resident Card 
  • Government issued cards, such as Military ID 
  • State issued photo ID including driver's license, welfare, Medicaid or FID card 
  • University or school ID 

Section 2. Proof of current local address* (must include applicant’s name) 

  • Utility bill or tax bill (dated within the last 60 days), an eBill can also be accepted
  • Imprinted bank check or deposit slip 
  • Official school schedule with applicant’s name and address typed on it 
  • Official letter verifying residency and mailing address dated within last 30 days from a social service provider, temporary employer that provides housing, or a short-term residence 
  • Postcard mailed to applicant from the library 

No longer acceptable as proof of current address: lease agreements, rent receipts, and personal letters.
*a Post Office Box or business address is not sufficient – a current residential address is required.

Children & Teen Applicants

If applicant is under 13 years old, parent or legal guardian must provide proof of identification and address. A child must be present for a parent or legal guardian to get them a library card.  

If applicant is between the ages of 13 and 17 and cannot meet the ID and address requirements, parent or guardian must provide proof of identification and address.  A teen must be present for a parent or legal guardian to get them a library card.

Out-of-state Residents

If applicant meets the following requirements, they may be issued a library card with sufficient identification:          

  • Work in Massachusetts

  • Attend school in Massachusetts

  • Own property in Massachusetts

  • Are temporarily living in Massachusetts for more than 2 months  

Out of state residents must provide identification showing their home/permanent address. Property owners must provide verification such as tax bill, utility bill, etc for their Massachusetts property. Students must verify their status with school identification and provide their school address. Out-of-state residents working in Massachusetts must provide their work address. Patrons who are temporary residents (such as college students or au pairs) should be registered with permanent address in the secondary address field.

Reporting a Lost Card

You can report a lost card by phone or in person. Until a card is reported lost, the cardholder is responsible for all materials checked out to the card, including any items that have been claimed to have been returned.

Expired Library Card

Library cards must be renewed in person. To update your library account status, bring your expired library card and photo ID to the Circulation Desk.

One of the primary functions of the Watertown Free Public Library is lending books, movies, music, games, and other materials to the community, free of charge.

Loan Periods

1 week: New DVDs
2 weeks: Express books, new books, regular DVDs, TV series, magazines, eReaders/tablets, kill-a-watts, and video games
3 weeks: All other books, nonfiction DVDs, audiobooks, and music CDs
2 hours: Laptops, headphones, mice, phone chargers (in-library use only)

Museum Passes Must be returned before the library opens the day after your museum visit.


All materials may be renewed twice, unless a hold has been placed on the item. Any item eligible for renewal will be automatically renewed.

You can renew an item: 

  • online at Your Account
  • in person at the library
  • by calling 617-972-6431 extension #3

Express books, new DVDs, and video games cannot be renewed. Laptops are allowed 1 renewal.


The Watertown Free Public Library does not charge late fees on materials with the exception of Inter-Library Loan materials borrowed from non-MLN libraries. This policy applies to Watertown only but may not be the same at other Minuteman Library Network (MLN) libraries. Patrons with materials overdue more than 28 days (or more than 1 day for in-library equipment such as laptops and headphones) must return them or pay for them before they can check out additional materials. 

Additional Information

Total number of items allowed: 150

Fines may be paid at any Minuteman Library Network location or online through Your Account

Book Drops

Book drops located in the front and rear of the Library, drive up book drop on Thaxter Street between the Library and Town Hall. Also, there are three remote drops throughout town: one at Watertown Middle School on Bemis and Waverly Streets, one at the Hosmer Elementary School on Boylston Street, and one at Filipello Park on Arlington Street. Drops are emptied daily.


Try out our self-checkout machine, located to the left of the Teen Room door. The touch screen will walk you through the process of checking out your own library materials. Some restrictions are associated with the use of this machine. The following items/patrons are not eligible for self-checkout:

  • Video games
  • Items on hold
  • Patrons with billed or lost items
  • Items with a sticker saying to bring to the Circulation Desk to check out