Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about the Appleton Public Library. To contact us with questions about library cards, fines, renewals, or lost materials please call Circulation at 832-6179.

LIBRARY CARD: How do I get one?

Photo ID + current proof of WI address

If your driver's license has your current address, that's all you need.

Library cards are free to Wisconsin residents. Identification and proof of residence are required for adults when the card application is completed. An electronic signature is also needed when signing up for a library card. Minors (17 years old and younger) need a parent or guardian signature. There is no minimum age requirement to obtain a library card. Lawrence University students may also receive a card by showing current school ID.

Personal identification is required to check out library materials if a card is forgotten. Lost your card? You can receive one replacement card every 12 months for free. Additional replacements within a 12 month period will cost $3.00. Please notify the staff if we need to change your name, address, or telephone on your account. Most library cards are valid for three years.

If you have any other questions about obtaining a library card or your account, please call (920) 832-6179.

Accepted ID... Identification may be provided with any U.S. state driver’s license or identification card, a passport, a school ID, or any official picture ID.

Proof of address... Proof of WI address may be provided on the same driver’s license or identification card if it's current. Also accepted:
(1) An “official” piece of mail (electric bill, cable bill, etc.)
(2) Address on a bank statement, payroll statement, etc.
(3) Checkbook
(4) Rental agreement with the complete address plainly entered.

Note: mail that is handwritten is not accepted. If you received a library card but were told you have to present proof of address, your card is stopped until that is presented.

For anyone under the age of 18... Identification and proof of address of the parent or guardian signing the responsibility statement on the application are required.

How many things may I check out?

The total number of Library items that you may have on your account at one time is 75. You may have 25 CDs, 5 video games, and 25 movies checked out to your account at any one time.

May I check out if I don’t have my card with me?

It is best (and fastest!) to use your card. We will make an exception if you show identification with your current address.

May I return materials to another Library?

Yes, your materials may be returned to the public libraries in these counties: Outagamie, Waupaca, Shawano, Door, Florence, Oneida, Marinette, Kewaunee, Menominee, Oconto, and the Oneida Reservation. Also, you can wait until the day they are due, since they will be checked in that same day at those libraries.

May I use my card at other public libraries?

Yes! You may use your card at the public libraries in these counties: Outagamie, Waupaca, Shawano, Door, Florence, Oneida, Marinette, Kewaunee, Menominee, Oconto, and the Oneida Reservation.

You cannot use our library card at Neenah, Menasha, or Oshkosh libraries because they are in the Winnefox library system while APL is part of the OWLS library system. (We just happen to be right near the border of the two systems.) You can have a library card from both systems if you are a WI resident.

How long does a Library card last?

Your card expires every year. At that time, we just want to confirm we still have your correct contact information. Once that's confirmed, your same card is extended for another year.

May others use my card?

Yes -- but remember: everything checked out on your card is your responsibility. Others may *not* use your library card number to access the internet computers.

Should I notify you if I change my address?

Yes! Please let us know whenever you change any information on your Library card application.

What if I lose my card?

Let us know right away so that we can "stop" your card to prevent others from using it. You may have one free replacement. After that, the cost is $3.

Will I be notified when my card is about to expire?

Yes, you will be notified about one month prior to your card's expiration. You will be asked for your current address in order to extend your library card for another 3 years. If your address has changed, you will be asked for proof of your address before you can check out items.

If your card is lost, you will need identification, be asked to fill out a new registration form, and may have to pay $3 for a replacement if you've already lost one and had the free replacement in the same calendar year.

How do I get my notices by email?

Sign up here to receive email notices from Appleton Public Library. We will send you notices when an item you placed on hold is available for checkout, a courtesy notice one day before your items are due, and an overdue notice when an item is past due.

Email messages:
HOLDS: subject=Library hold availability notice;

SAVED SEARCHES: sender=III Exporter; subject=New library material matching your Preferred Searches;

DUE IN ONE DAY: subject=Library courtesy notice; from or another library

OVERDUE: subject=Library Overdue Notice; from or another library

How do I get my notices by text (Shoutbomb)?

See InfoSoup's Shoutbomb page for information and to sign up.

DUE DATES & RENEWING: How long may I keep stuff?

All Videos and Video Games7 days
Magazines, Music CDs, & Short Loans14 days
Everything else28 days

(Loan periods vary for audiovisual equipment and InterLibrary-Loaned items.)

How will I know when my materials are due? Can I renew something?

When you check out at any of the self-checks or with a staff member, you will be given a slip of paper that lists when each item is due. If you lose that slip, you can check your account online and also opt to renew any items as needed. If you have your Library Card # with you, you can call 920-832-6179 (Checkout) or 920-832-6173 (Reference) and be told when an item is due as well as have that item renewed.

Unless there is a waiting list, all materials may be renewed twice. Renewal will extend an item's checkout from the date it is renewed, not from the original due date. Renew online at using My Account.

Items borrowed through interlibrary loan from a library outside the OWLSnet system can only be renewed with permission of the owning library. To request a renewal, contact the Appleton Public Library at 832-6173 at least three days before the item is due. It may take a several days to receive an answer from the owning library. Items that are overdue cannot be renewed and must be returned.


You can continue to check out items until you have $5 or more of fines/billed items on your card.

Fines do not affect computer access.

Fines are are paid at the Library's checkout desk; we accept cash or check (made out to the City of Appleton). If your fines are $4 or more, you may pay them online with a credit card by logging into your account; however, if your fines are less than $4 you will not see an option to pay online.

InterLibrary Loans & Equipment
$25 Maximum
Reference Books given special release to check out (rare exceptions)
$1/hour each hour past the date & time due
no Maximum limit
Everything else
$5 Maximum

How will I know when I have fines or overdue items?

When you check out materials, you will be given a slip listing what you have checked out and when those items are due back at the library. Materials are due before the library closes on the date indicated. If your library account includes your email address, you will receive a courtesy notice one day before your items are due. You may also use the My Account feature of our catalog to check your due date and fines.

Is there a grace period for overdue items?

We are no longer able to offer a grace period. All materials are due on their due date before the Library closes.

HOLDS & SET-ASIDES: Where do I pick-up my items?

Patrons may pick-up their own holds from an area immediately west (right) of the Circulation Desk. Items will remain on the hold shelf for 7 days, after which they are returned to the owning library. (Unfortunately, the seven days cannot be extended.)

You will need the Library card that was used to place the hold in order to check out the item(s).

Holds may be checked out on the self-check machines.

Holds are filed in alphabetical order by a code comprised as follows

  • the first two letters of your first name
  • the first two letters of your last name
  • the last four digits of your Library card number

John Doe, 29876 12345 6789 (library card #) = JODO6789

Why can’t I pick up holds for other members of my family?

You can, if you have their library card with you. If you don’t have the card that the hold was placed under, we can’t be certain that you have the permission of the person who placed the hold. We take your privacy seriously, and now that holds are out in public view we have to be even more careful. That is why we file holds using a code that doesn’t result in family members having all of their materials together, and also why we require that you have the card that the hold was placed with in your possession when you pick up a hold.

Why is there a limit of only 15 items on hold?

Library staff have worked hard to keep up with the demands for materials, but the online catalog has made placing holds so easy and popular that the workload is getting beyond us. Although total staff is decreasing, the number of items reserved has gone up 160% in the last six years.

Many people reserve things even though at that very moment they are on the shelf at Appleton. Those requests join thousands of others. The following day we receive a notice and need to retrieve the materials (see the next paragraph on set-asides for a better way). Pulling thousands of items off the shelf is a great service but very labor intensive. In order to keep going, we had to create stricter limits.


Set-Asides - If you notice that an item is available at Appleton Public Library, rather than placing a hold please call us for a set-aside: we will go to the shelf immediately to check for the item which will then be set-aside for you on the hold shelf for a total of 7 days.

  • If you need a non-fiction book, please call the Reference Desk (920-832-6173).
  • For fiction, large print, videos, cds, magazines, or items in the Teen collection, please call the Information Desk (920-832-6177).
  • For Children's items, please call the Children's Desk (920-832-6187).


PRINTING is $0.15 per side for black and white (two-sided = $0.30/page), and $0.35 for color (two-sided = $0.70/page). Wireless printing is also available.

SOFTWARE is listed at


  • Computers are available on the first and second floors and can be accessed with your library card number and last name. Guests without a library card can show photo ID to staff to obtain a guest pass.
  • Everyone can use the computers up to 3 hours each day in however many sessions you choose. Our PC Reservation system keeps track of time used. When you logon, you are guaranteed a full hour on the computers, unless you log off earlier. If use is high and waiting patrons have made reservations, you will not be offered to extend your time further; however, you still have 2 hours left to use that day. Individuals taking tests should speak to staff at the beginning of their session if they feel they will need special accommodation to finish without interruption.
  • Our internet speed for WiFi and the internet computers is 100MB up and down.
  • The Children's section has 8 computers for children and for adults who are attending to their children in that area.
  • The first floor has 3 computers east of the Information Desk. You may use your cell phone at these computers.
  • The second floor has 23 computers, one at a stand-up station with a feeder scanner. Cell phones must be set to silent or vibrate on the second floor, and cell phone conversations are prohibited. If you need to use your cell phone while on the computer, please go to one of the three first floor computers.

Rules for using the Library's computers

  • Everyone has 3 hours per day to use the internet computers. You can log on as many times as you'd like; as soon as you reach 3 hours, however, you will no longer have access.
  • Printing is $0.15 per black & white page (8.5"x11") and $0.35 for each color copy (8.5"x11"). The same is true for photocopies.
  • Staff will attempt to assist with software or hardware problems but are not experts on all types of software or hardware. Patrons are ultimately responsible for their own use of the computers and can use print and online tutorials, plus books from the collection, to learn how to use the computers.
  • Patrons access the computers using their own Appleton or OWLSnet Library cards or an Appleton non-borrowers ("internet only") Library card. Patrons may not use cards belonging to others.
  • Fines on your library account do not affect your ability to use the computers.
  • Area residents without Library cards will need to apply for a card.
  • Short-term visitors from outside the area may be given a guest card, good for one day use. Guest cards are issued at the Reference Desk and require presentation of a valid ID.
  • Patrons who have cards but did not bring them may show photo ID to staff to obtain their card number.
  • Staff will monitor use of the computers to see that patrons are following the Library's Internet Policy and Security & Safety Policy (formerly titled "Rules of Conduct Policy") posted in the area.

Rules for equipment that can be checked out or used at the Library.


SOFTWARE is listed at

What happened to the 3D printer?

Our Makerbot Replicator 2 was created in 2012. Five years later in the Fall of 2017 it was ready to be retired. The 3D printer is no longer available for public use. Library Staff, however, might use it in future, special programming.

Where is the scanner computer?

A computer with a feeder scanner is located in front and slightly to the east of the Reference Desk on the second floor. This is a 30 minute stand-up station. Login with your own library card number. ID cards, etc., can be fed through the feeder scanner with a carrier sheet that is available at the Reference Desk. The scanner computer also has Adobe Acrobat 9 Standard edition.

Printing is 15¢/page (for black & white; 35¢/page for color).

A flatbed scanner is available on the upper level of the library, attached to a computer with no internet access. You will need to bring a USB drive or other physical storage device to save your scans. You may also check out a flash drive at the Reference Desk. 

All computers require your library card number to login or a photo ID for staff to issue you a guest pass.

WiFi at Appleton Public Library

By using WiFi at the library you agree that you are subject to our Internet Policy.

How to Connect:
Any device with WiFi capability should automatically detect the aplpublic signal. No password is required. Wireless access points are located throughout the building, although signal strength may vary.

Our internet speed for WiFi and the internet computers is 100MB up and down.



Who uses it?

The Library is a center of community life: services are free, everybody is welcome and you see everybody. It’s our most democratic institution, and provides a general gathering place for people as well as meeting rooms for community groups. About 80,000 people have Appleton Library cards – a cross-section of our entire local population.

Aren’t libraries just for leisure?

The Library is THE place for education, supplementing school media centers with in-depth materials, and is the only Library for many alternative school and home-school children -- and more adults learn things independently than learn via formal education.

But with the Internet, aren't fewer people using libraries?

Some people think the Internet is making libraries less busy, but just the opposite is true.

Librarians are way-finders on the information highway; libraries provide access to great value-added databases, as well as Internet access for those who don’t have their own.

The Appleton Public Library creates databases and online resources with local history and community information. With the Internet, people use the Library differently, but they use it more!

Money is tight: aren’t libraries just a “nice-to-have” and not a “need-to-have”?

While not a critical service like police or fire, libraries are still an essential service. Communities that demonstrably value families, education, social inclusion and culture are stronger, healthier, better places to live, work and create opportunities.

Where do you get funds?

The Library needs donations, and gets grants every year from the Appleton Library Foundation’s endowment and help from the Friends of Appleton Library – two organizations which need support! But over 95% of the money spent at the Library comes from local tax dollars – mostly from City of Appleton property taxes. But counties pay their share, too.

Can libraries help the economy?

Libraries promote community development and growth. People starting a business, people running a business and people looking for work all use and benefit from Library resources. Many people look at the public Library when deciding where they want to live -- and access to libraries helps people prepare for higher paying jobs.

Studies have shown that for every dollar invested in libraries, there is at least a $4 return on investment to the community. (Check out the most recent studies of the economic impact of Public Libraries, including specifically in Wisconsin.)

Do libraries help families?

Libraries are places families can use together; we work with parents and families to help children love reading and learning. We encourage families to use the Library together. Kids who read succeed!

Who’s in charge?

The Appleton Public Library is governed by a citizen board of trustees, including one alderperson, one Appleton Area School District representative and seven other citizens appointed by the mayor. Most board appointments are for three-year terms. Appleton residents interested in serving on the board should contact the mayor, the library board president, or the library director.

The board makes budget and policy decisions and oversees the staff. 

What’s the deal with parking?

Parking is free in city streets and lots on Sundays, but at other times, ramps and parking meters reflect the supply and demand of being part of a busy downtown. The library parking lot is maintained and operated by the City of Appleton Public Works Department. The City of Appleton receives all parking revenue and parking tickets, and the City of Appleton Common Council controls the rules for parking meter enforcement.


You actually have paid employees? Aren’t you all volunteers?

The Library needs volunteers and uses hundreds of hours every month for special projects, data entry, help with programs and children’s activities, delivery of books to the homebound, shelving materials and more.

Apart from our volunteers, the Library is operated by staff. There are nearly 100 employees under the direction of professional librarians (who hold at least one master’s degree). Work is done in the building seven days a week, sometimes from six AM until midnight. Five service points are staffed (Administration, Children's, Circulation, Information, and Reference). We answer questions, run programs, check-out and re-shelve material, and maintain a facility used daily by over a thousand people.

Can you ask questions at the Library?

You can ask us (almost) anything, in person, on the phone, via email or through an online form! We’re here to help you find the information and knowledge you need.

How can people get involved or help?

In many ways: sharing ideas, time and money. Use the library and let us know what you think: we value and need thoughtful feedback.

The Friends of the Appleton Library need active members and are involved in many library services and operations, including advocacy by contacting elected officials and writing letters to the editor.

There are many jobs for volunteers at the library. You can donate materials or money for the collection. The Friends of Appleton Public Library rely on many contributions to help the Library have the “edge of excellence” beyond tax support.