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Borrower Services

Privacy & Confidentiality

The American public library is based upon the belief that for a democracy to flourish, its people must have free, open, and confidential access to information and ideas. The Cambridge Public Library (CPL) is committed to providing outstanding service within this framework. We hold the intellectual explorations of every individual in the strictest privacy.

Minuteman Library Network

The CPL is a member of the Minuteman Library Network (MLN), one of the largest networks in the state. More than 40 libraries share over 6.5 million titles. Your CPL card is valid at all MLN libraries.

Library Cards

Getting a library card is quick, easy, and free! You’ll need a photo ID with your Massachusetts address, or a photo ID with one document such as a utility bill with both your name and current Massachusetts address.

Please be sure to bring your card whenever you visit. Alternatively, staff can assist you to scan your library card onto a smart phone.

If your card is lost or becomes compromised, let us know immediately. You are responsible for all materials charged to your card until the date you report it lost.


Visit cambridgepubliclibrary.org at any time to access your account, the Minuteman catalog, databases, ebooks, download audio, and stream music and films! You can also renew items, settle fines, and place or freeze reserves.

Express & Express View

We strive to have the most sought-after titles available when you visit! Supported by the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library, Express copies of popular materials are exempt from potentially long network reserve lists. They are free and the loan period is the same; they are not reservable or renewable.

Borrowing Periods

New and Express Books 2 weeks
Music, Films, Magazines, and Video Games 1 week
All Other Materials 4 weeks


If there are no pending reserves, most items may be renewed twice online, in person, or by phone (617-349-4040). Video games and Express materials are not renewable.


With very few exceptions any MLN item may be returned to any MLN library. If it is equally convenient for you to return an item to its owning location, we do appreciate it. All CPL locations have boxes for after-hour returns.


Please return your items on time so other patrons may enjoy them. All items checked out from our locations are fine free.
Lost Items

You will be billed for the cost of items that are 4 weeks overdue or seriously damaged. If you return the item, the bill will be cleared from your account. To support families and young readers, we will also clear bills for lost/damaged Cambridge-owned children’s and young adult materials under most circumstances. In the event of repeated occurrences, a librarian will reach out to you.


You can reserve titles online, in person, or by phone (617-349-4041). Please ask a librarian if you don’t find what you need or would like us to purchase a title. Reserves can be held only until your next visit. Your notice will tell you on what day the hold will expire.

Text & Email

We will text you instantaneously or email you the same day when your reserve arrives. You will also receive reminders as items are about to become due. We do not share your phone number or email with anyone, or send you unsolicited information.


The Friends of the Cambridge Public Library and other organizations provide an extensive array of passes to other area museums for you to borrow. Visit bit.ly/cplpasses to learn more and reserve passes online, or call your branch or the Q&A desk for assistance.

For Our Borrowers’ Security

• Privacy safeguards are in effect when a library card is issued, regardless of age.
• We require the presentation of a library card or acceptable ID to access a library account.
• You may not use another person’s library card. We make a good faith effort to be sure the borrower is in fact the cardholder.
• In order to protect the personal details of a person’s account, we require the cardholder to be present with ID to make any changes to this information.
• To renew a library card, which involves reviewing the personal details of an account, we verify identity.
• Personal borrowing information (what titles are out, fined, billed, or on hold) is not provided unless the cardholder is present.