Borrowing Privileges

The Des Moines Public Library issues personal cards to individuals and corporate cards to designated individuals. Individuals are responsible for items checked out on their cards. Parents or guardians are responsible for the items checked out on their children’s cards. Children must be at least 5 years old to get a card and children under age 12 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and must have a parent or guardian’s permission to borrow more than five items.

Children under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian sign to be allowed to borrow DVDs and video cassettes. Cards for children under the age of 12 may be denied if aggregate fines for other family members exceed $15. Cards for children will not be issued to parents or guardians if the child is not present.

A library card is not transferable. The library may refuse use of a card to anyone except the individual to whom the card is issued. The person whose signature appears on the card, or (if the borrower is under eighteen) his or her parent or guardian is responsible for all materials borrowed on the card. The cardholder agrees to pay all fines, abide by the policies of the library, report loss or theft of the card promptly, and report change of name and address promptly.

Des Moines Residents

Permanent Residents
Free library cards are issued to residents within the corporate limits of Des Moines. Address information and ID are checked annually.

Temporary Residents
Free short-term cards are issued to residents of Des Moines who live at temporary locations--hotels, motels, missions, YMCA, YWCA, etc. These cards are issued for two months, with a two-item limit. Persons who are long-term residents ( one year)at these locations may obtain three-year cards

Guest Residents
Short-term cards may be issued to persons who live outside of Iowa and expect to be in Des Moines for a period of two weeks to three months. The guest customer may check out two items at a time and will be given a “temporary” patron category.


  • Open Access cards are issued to all persons from communities participating in the State Library Open Access program.
  • Residents of Windsor Heights and unincorporated areas of Polk County, which contract with the metro library association, are issued Des Moines Public Library cards.
  • Customers who do not live in Des Moines, Rural Polk County, or Windsor Heights, or in areas covered by Open Access agreements, may use the Des Moines Public Library by purchasing a six-month subscription card for $40.00.

Corporate Borrowers

A corporation (company, business institution, agency) located within the city of Des Moines or in one of the library's contracting communities is eligible to receive a card. Corporate application forms may be completed and issued in the library by the authorized individual or taken to the company office for a signature and mailed to the Central Library. The library will mail the cards. Corporate cards are offered on a limited basis if no other method for borrowing materials is available. Up to five (5) individuals may be authorized to use the corporate cards. The corporate executive authorized to assume responsibility must sign the application form.