[HOUSTON, TX. April 28, 2021] – Library cards have always had the power to open doors to learning, to community, to the wider world. With its new Harris County Enhanced+ Library Card, Harris County Public Library (HCPL) hopes to offer new opportunities for people who might find it difficult to obtain verified photo identification from other governmental institutions.
At the recommendation of Harris County Commissioners, HCPL has developed the Enhanced+ Card modelled on the San Antonio Public Library’s photo ID library card. The HCPL Enhanced+ Library Card does not replace HCPL’s full-service Knowledge Card. The HCPL Knowledge Card will still be available. The Enhanced+ card is simply a useful option for Harris County residents who might need a supplemental photo ID.
“Library cards are about access—access to information, to knowledge. The HCPL Enhanced+ Card is a logical extension of that idea. It gives people a new option for verified photo ID which they can use to access services like banking and travel that are not available without one,” says Fred Schumacher, Circulation Services Manager for HCPL who has spearheaded the Enhanced+ library card project.
The Enhanced Library Card will include a photo of the card holder, printed name, address, date of birth, gender marker, expiration date and card number on the front, with their printed card number, machine readable barcode, borrower agreement and HCPL contact number on the back. The front of the card also has a UV design incorporated as an additional security measure.
To be clear, HCPL’s Enhanced+ Library Card is not just a library card with the patron’s photo on it. It is verified identification. Working with community partners and other Harris County Departments, HCPL has developed a rigorous system to ensure that the Enhanced+ Card is a trustworthy form of identification.
HCPL has compiled an extensive list of authenticating documents that applicants must present in-person as proof of identity and residency. Each document is assigned a point value to verify both identity and residency. An Enhanced+ Card will only be issued if all criteria are met. A full list of acceptable documentation and their point values is available on the library’s website: www.hcpl.net/
HCPL is working with community partners, business institutions, and government agencies it to accept the HCPL Enhanced+ Library as a valid form of identification. Currently, HCPL’s Enhanced+ Library Card is accepted by all Harris County Departments and can be used as secondary photo ID for other purposes including travel. It is hoped that as time goes on, the Enhanced+ card will be widely recognized by businesses, services and other governmental entities.
HCPL’s Enhanced+ Library Cards are available at all 26 HCPL branch locations. Applications are processed by library staff. Photos are taken onsite, and applicants will take home their Enhanced+ Library Card on the day of application.