Benefits of joining the library
Anyone can visit our public libraries without being a member. You are welcome to come in and just be in the space to do such things as explore, read, rest, meet others, play, study. We encourage everyone to become a library member so that you can get a whole lot more out of your local library.
There are some special library cards available with different types of benefits. Please see elsewhere on this page.
- It’s free to join
- It’s free to borrow books
- There are 1000s of books and eBooks or eAudio available
- You can borrow up to 20 books at one time
- A library card is for life
- eBooks and eAudio titles are free to borrow
- It’s free to use the library computers and wifi (there are printing charges)
- There are even more services online for free
- There are lots of free activities and events for children and families
- There’s more choice of than you could ever have at home
All library members are entitled to borrow books for free. Children and young people under 18 are eligible for a variety of free or reduced charges for some library services. Please visit Using the Library section.
We hope all library members will look after library books, audiobooks and DVDs but we understand that stuff happens with under-5s particularly and it’s often out of a parent’s control. Library staff are permitted to waive replacement charges on items damaged by children under 5.
Activities and events
There are a variety of events that are on offer across our library network. Here are some popular book or reading events which many libraries offer.
Very young children
Sharing rhymes and stories
Free fun Rhymetime sessions for babies and toddlers with their parents and carers take place regularly in most libraries. Please enquire at your local library.
Combining enjoyment of books, music and rhymes, they help children to listen and concentrate; encourage them to join in with others and develop their language skills and are great opportunities for new parents to meet others. Craft activities may also be included.
Storytimes and author visits
Many libraries offer storytimes to children on Saturdays and during the school holidays. Sometimes authors will be invited in to talk with children about their books and do readings. Craft activities may be included. Please enquire at your local library.
Children’s Book Clubs
We use the Chatterbooks programme from The Reading Agency. Book Clubs happen after school hours for children to meet others and have the chance to read books, chat about them in a safe environment. Please enquire at your local library to register your interest.
Sessions are led by library staff or volunteers. If you would like to start and run a children’s book club, please contact your local library to see if this would be possible.
Summer Reading Challenge
Our Summer Reading Challenge is a popular annual reading event from The Reading Agency and local libraries during the summer holidays. It is open primarily to children aged 4-11 with a mini-challenge for younger children and volunteering opportunities for children and young people aged 12+. There are enjoyable activities around the theme throughout the summer across the library network. Keep your eyes peeled and your ears alert from May onwards. Library staff will visit some schools to promote the challenge.
The Winter Reading Challenge during December is an online project run by The Reading Agency and promoted by Oxfordshire Libraries on our social media platforms and in libraries.
Homework and projects
Libraries support children and young people with their homework and projects through the free use of:
- a range of information books
- a subject index to help find information books using the Dewey system
- books from other local libraries – you can order books online using your card number and PIN
- our online reference books including the Encyclopaedia Britannica Junior or Britannica Student – log in from home or in the library using your card number
- help and information from our enquiry service.
Computers and free wifi
All Oxfordshire libraries have free wifi so mobile devices can be used easily. Most libraries have at least one computer or more which are free to use for usually 1 hour. Just pay for printing. Find out more on the internet and computers page.
Children under 16 should use library computers in the Children’s Library / area because they are filtered to enable safer internet searching. Teenagers aged 16 to 17 are welcome to use computers used by adults and are required to comply with the Acceptable Use conditions set out on the computers on entry.
Library information for children
Information that is specifically written for young people about library services is available on the Oxme website.
Family centres and pre-school groups
You are welcome to bring your group or class to the library regularly to share books, meet the library staff or take part in an activity. Bring your supervisor’s ID to the library to join the library and get a special pre-school ticket so you can borrow books.
- You can borrow up to 20 board books, picture books or chldren’s factual books for 14 weeks.
- There are no fines for late returns, and no charge for loss or damage to books.
- To arrange a visit or ask staff to read a story or lead an event Contact your library
School class visits
We offer fun and informative learning sessions for class groups under teacher supervision. Find out about the library and using the library resources, which can be tailored to class topics. Sessions are designed to encourage children to use the public library outside school hours. We also offer a Class Visit library card for teachers to use to ensure children without a library card on the visit can borrow books on the day. Contact your library to arrange.
Libraries welcome childminders at any time and are also happy to help with an event or activity. Registered childminders can get a card to borrow books to use with the children in their care.
- You can borrow up to 20 children's books for six weeks.
- Books issued on this card are also exempt from fines or charges for loss or damage.
- Contact your library if you would like to arrange a dedicated visit or activity
Bring your OFSTED registration along to your local library to join. Also visit the Bookstart page to find out what is on offer through this national programme.
eBooks and eAudiobooks
There are two different platforms of library eBooks and eAudiobooks available for free loan from 2 apps. There are choices for babies, toddlers, children, older children and young people. There’s a very wide choice from both and a dedicated Kids and Teen Room on Libby. Please see the eBooks page.
- Overdrive via the Libby app
- BorrowBox via the BorrowBox app
eMagazines for children are popular and they are free to members of Oxfordshire Libraries and are available from:
- Press Reader
Online database and streaming
Online databases are great resources for fun and fact-finding whether you are naturally curious, looking for something interesting to do or researching for homework and project work. These resources are free to children and young people with an Oxfordshire Library card and some are accessible from home: encyclopedias, research, language and digital learning, art and music, including music streaming. They are worth exploring.
Children in care
Children in care are eligible for a library card which exempts you from any charges for lost or damaged items and from late book fines. You can
- borrow audio books with no hire charges
- reserve books, audiobooks, music CDs and DVDs for free.
To get a library card bring a letter from your social worker to the library.
Registered foster carers
If you are a registered foster carer you can have a special library card, in addition to any individual card that you already have. Just bring your social worker letter with you to the library to join.
- You can borrow up to 20 books as well as other resources.
- There are no hire charges to borrow audio books.
- There are no fines for late book returns.
- There are no charges for requesting books.
Home educated children
The library service has a great deal on offer to support parents who educate their children at home. Parents are advised to ensure children have their own library card and use this to borrow books, audiobooks, music CD and DVDs to take advantage of the free and concessionary rates. There is a fantastic online library service
Home Library Service
Children and young people who are housebound and full-time carers can apply on their behalf if that is appropriate. Those who might need the service on a short-term basis following debilitating illness or hospitalisation can apply too.
To register for this service or for further information call the Home Library Service on 01865 810259 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join the library
Parents can register their children with the library service as soon as they are born if they wish. You can join the library online or fill in a form at a library.
If you or your child are aged under 16, we will need the name and address of a parent, guardian or carer and some proof of identification for this person.
Libraries as safe places
All library staff and volunteers have DBS clearance and we look forward to welcoming everyone especially families, children and young people to our libraries.
Libraries are public places and are open to anyone. Parents and carers will need to help us keep everyone safe and parents should not abandon children at any time. As children and young people become more independent we expect them to behave safely and responsibly in a public place. If anyone feels unsafe at any time please approach staff or volunteers.
Some of our libraries have public toilets and baby-changing facilities but some libraries are not able to offer this facility at all and some, only on request. All libraries welcome breastfeeding mothers.