Levels of Collaborations with Schools

Through collaborations, many successful models for various types of library cards have been created. This page offers a brief overview of types of library cards to create in partnership with schools to support student success, and also identifies some considerations for libraries when thinking about collaborations.

Full Access Card

A full access card gives students full access to all online and in-library resources.

  • Full access to online resources such as databases, eBooks and online tutoring
  • Full access to in-library resources such as books, programs and computer/internet access

Limited Use Card

A limited use card gives students full access to online resources, but limits the amount of books they can check out.

  • Full access to online resources such as databases, eBooks and online tutoring
  • Limited number of books allowed for check out. The number of books varies between libraries

Internet Only Card

An Internet only card gives students full access to all online resources. Students cannot check out books with the card, but can upgrade to a full access card with a parent/guardian present.

  • Full access to online resources such as databases, eBooks and online tutoring
  • No books allowed to be checked out
  • Can be upgraded in person at the library with a parent/guardian present

Duplicate Cards

Depending on the size of the library, each library has to determine the best strategy for dealing with duplicate cards. This will be updated as new strategies develop.

1. Embrace duplicate cards.

  • Create a “student” card category. Some students may end up with two cards.
  • Best for larger library systems that have a lot of student data they will be importing.
  • Could impact price of vendor subscriptions if price is determined by number of patron records.

2. Update existing accounts.

  • Update the patron information the library has on file with the data the school provides.
  • Libraries should consider communicating to the schools and duplicate students why they will not be receiving a card and encourage those students to use their existing cards.


Each library must think about how they will handle fines with a student library card. Below are examples of how libraries are currently approaching fines.

1. Embrace duplicate cards.

  • Accrues fines like any other card
  • Forgive existing fines on duplicate patrons/student to reduce the financial barrier to accessing the library resources. The student then accrues fines as normal
  • No fines. The student cards do not accrue fines or fees
    Forgive existing fines and no fines accrued

Benefits of Using Student IDs for Library Access

Incorporating the Student ID card as part of the library card can create several benefits. Some libraries use the ID as the barcode, which works well if school districts use one ID number throughout K-12. Some libraries use the library barcode, but track the student through a special patron code or through the Student ID which is in a searchable field in the patron record. The tips below come from Stepping Up to the ConnectED Library Challenge: A Call to Action report.

  • Easy-to-remember number
  • No risk of lost cards
  • Provides continuity for students throughout their school life
  • Serves multiple purposes for students
  • Facilitates data sharing
  • Creates a strong connection between the library and school