Libraries – Frequently Asked Questions

You are welcome into any of our libraries to use the Internet, read a newspaper or carry out research. If you register you can also borrow books, ebooks, CDs and DVDs.

What ID do I need to join the library?

For access to books, the internet, online resources and much more you will need to provide proof of address and signature.

If you have a driving licence, we can accept this as a full membership proof and we will only need to see one proof of ID. If you do not have a driving licence, we will need to see 2 forms of ID for a full membership, one from list A and one from list B.

For an ‘instant’ more limited membership please provide us with one proof of ID from list B.

Proofs of address
A: Proof of address B: Proof of signature
Driving licence Driving licence
*Bank statement Credit card
Rent book Bank card
Council Tax statement Passport
Tenancy agreement Bail 201 card
Utility bill
*Credit card statement
Biometric residence permit

Items marked with * must be no more than 2 months old.

We are unable to accept photos of ID but can accept logging into an online utility/bank account as proof of address.

You can also join online to get instant access to all our digital resources. You will be given a temporary barcode number as well as a PIN. You will still need to show the ID above when you come into the library to get your physical membership card.

Can I see the library catalogue online

You can use the online library catalogue to search for books, audiobooks or DVDs; or to reserve or renew items.

How many items can I borrow?

Members can borrow up to 30 items at one time, however there is a limit of 10 audiobooks per card. Books and audiobooks are usually lent for 3 weeks and DVDs for 1 week. We no longer charge overdue fees on these items and there are no hire charges for audiobooks or DVDs either

In addition you can borrow up to four ebooks, eaudiobooks or emagazines from each of our apps.

How can I renew items?

You can renew books using the online library catalogue as long as you know your library barcode and four-digit PIN. Ask a member of library staff if you do not know your PIN.

You can renew or return loans from any of Reading’s libraries at any branch, regardless of where they were issued. You can also renew your items by phone.

You can renew items up to four times as long as they have not been reserved by another user.

Can you remind me when my loans are due?

We can email you just before items are due back – contact us to activate this service. You can also check when your loans are due back by logging into your account on the public catalogue at any time.

We will email you if your items do go overdue at 1, 3 and 6 weeks. Although we no longer charge overdue fines on books, audiobooks or DVDs, if your items are not returned after 6 weeks the items will be set to lost and the full replacement cost and a £5 non-refundable handling charge will be placed on your library card. If the items are returned, the replacement charge will be removed.

Do you have a library app?

Yes we have a Reading Libraries app that lets you manage multiple accounts, search the catalogue, reserve and renew books as well as access all our online services from the one app. To download, please visit or your app store.

What are your charges?

We no longer charge overdue fines and hire charges for books, audiobooks and DVDs. We have produced a detailed list of our library charges for you to refer to.

Do you run any activities for children in the libraries?

We run lots of activities for children including rhymetimes for under 5s, craft and game groups. Have a look at our What’s On Reading events and activities page to find out more.

Do you run any activities for adults in the libraries?

We run lots of regular activities for adults, including coffee mornings, craft groups and talks by authors, amongst other things. Have a look at our What’s On Reading events and activities page to find out more.

Can you help me find out about local and family history?

Central Library has a Local Studies collection on the second floor. This contains books, photographs, newspapers, maps, magazines, newsletters and ephemera from all around Berkshire.

We provide a research service for people who are unable to visit the library. You can contact the research team or call on 0118 901 5950. The details of fees for this service and others are in our Local Studies charges factsheet.

You can order illustrations using our order form.

Are your services accessible?

All our libraries are fully accessible to wheelchair users. We have large print and audiobooks in all our libraries available to borrow for free. Our ebook app CloudLibrary allows you to adjust the text size, font and background, and both CloudLibrary and BorrowBox apps have a huge range of audiobooks for you to listen to for free.

If you have dyslexia and would like a longer loan period, please ask a member of staff and they can arrange that for you.

We also have fiction and non-fiction books for adults and children in a range of languages other than English. This includes Cantonese, Mandarin, Urdu and Polish. We also have some Polish and Ukrainian titles on our BorrowBox app.

Services for book groups or other groups

We have over 150 titles in our book club collection. You can use the online catalogue to see the selection of book group sets. We offer a subscription service where registered book groups pay an annual charge and can borrow up to 2 sets of 10 books for 8 weeks at a time.

To use this service, choose a member of your group to be the ‘named user’ and register your book group at Central Library. The annual subscription charge for groups with a registered user within Reading borough is £22 per year (or part year) and £35 per year (or part year) for those living outside Reading borough. Subscription fees are payable every April and go towards buying new book sets. To reserve a set, please complete the request form. For any other enquiries, please email

We also offer drama and vocal sets for drama groups and choirs. Contact

Can I use the internet for free in the libraries?

Library members can access the internet for free at all Reading libraries. You must have your library card and PIN with you to use this service. Your digital library card within our CloudLibrary ebook app can also be used. If you do not know your PIN, please ask a member of staff or you can reset it online through the library catalogue.

Children under eight will only be allowed internet access when accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Children and teenagers between 8 and 13 years will only be allowed to use the internet if their parent or legal guardian has read the Children and Teenagers Internet Use permission statement and signed the membership ledger giving them permission. Their library card and PIN will then allow them access to the internet in the library.

Our free terminals offer a limited service, allowing you to view websites, email and print (for which there is a small charge). You can only use the internet for a maximum of two hours a day. You will be automatically logged out 10 minutes before the library closes.

Is there wifi in the libraries?

Free wifi is available in all our libraries. You will need a library card and PIN to login.

Can I donate books to the library?

Yes, we do accept donations of books at our libraries. We accept books that are less than 3 years old and as good as new. We cannot accept a large volume of donations i.e. a house clearance or AV items. We consider any items donated to the library according to our donations policy and if they are not wanted we may dispose of them. We cannot return any donated items. We will ask you to sign the donations register when you bring your items in to a library. Read our donations policy.

Last updated on 04/04/2024