WTF? "Enhanced" library card?

We’re renewing our library cards, and something apparently being trialed in the system is an “enhanced” library card. It’s a photo ID that’s accepted by various city organizations as well.

It’s (currently) not required, but this is just ringing all sorts of alarm bells in my head. Am I just being paranoid?


Lots of Cities started providing their own ID cards for residents without ID - or without ID that matched their gender ID.

Perhaps it’s part of that?


At this point they should be able to uniquely identify anybody who walks through the door from our fingerprints and retinas and whatever

We shouldn’t need to carry ID at all

but as usual instead of relieving us of a burden technology is being used to create new ones


it looks like they still allow a wide variety of proof of identity to get the card, including non us drivers licenses and foreign passports, so that’s good.

i guess my question would be: what other agencies have access to your original identification method, and can they see that when you use other city services ( esp: re targeting immigrants )

i have not turned off the “reading history” at my local library because it’s nice to see what ive borrowed in the past. i am a little leary of it though from a privacy and personal liberty perspective


I thought for a second that this could serve as a government-issued ID for voting purposes, but Texas’s voter ID law is very specific as to what IDs count for the purposes of voting. (A handgun license does, but nothing about library cards. In other news, Texas requires handgun licenses?)


I note that it is specifically not a valid form of voter ID, so it’s not librarians trying to increase access to the polls, which was my first hope :slightly_frowning_face:


coca cola coke GIF by The Coca-Cola Company
And of course a gun license is valid :roll_eyes:


No, but as you probably noticed, it stands to make life easier for undocumented people who haven’t been able to get a driver’s license and so lack a photo ID…

What organizations and institutions accept the APL Enhanced Library Card as a form of ID?

Austin Public Library has received confirmation from the following government agencies and community organizations that they will accept the Enhanced Library Card as a valid form of identification:

City Departments:

  • Austin Police Department​
  • Austin Energy (accepted at Utility Customer Service Centers for maintenance or inquiries on actively billing accounts)
  • Austin Public Health​
  • Austin Municipal Court (for services that do not require a state-issued ID by state.)​
  • Austin Parks & Recreation​
  • Downtown Austin Community Court​
  • The Resilience Office​
  • Austin Animal Services​

Community Organizations:

  • Central Health
  • ECHO​
  • Foundation Communities​
  • Integral Care​
  • Central Health​
  • Lifeworks​
  • Sunrise Navigation Center​
  • YWCA Greater Austin

Partner Organizations

  • American Gateways​
  • Austin Asian Community Health Initiative​
  • Go Austin Vamos Austin​
  • Girasol Texas​
  • Grassroots Leadership​
  • Todos Juntos Learning Center​
  • Truc Viet​
  • Workers Defense Project

Note: the Enhanced Library Card is not a valid form of voter ID.


Biometrics should never be used for government ID. It’s fine to get into your phone but even before hacking what happens if someone burns their fingers or receives a deep cut or scrap to their fingers? Or gets an eye injury?

And if the system does get compromised (which it will) and someone can fool the system into thinking they are you how do you change your biometrics? Jab your own eye out? Cut your own fingers?


Only if you want the cops to be able to physically force you to unlock your phone. Personally, I turn all that shit off


They’ve recently brought photo ID requirements into play in the UK for voting. This was under the lie that it stops voter fraud but the UK system was really robust because of its secrecy. Plus people forget we’ve had the system for hundreds of years. Any loop holes have already been patched.

But today is the first day everyone has to bring photo ID. The estimates are about 2 million people don’t have it. Usually the poor (and therefore not Tory voters and it’s the Tories that brought this in.) there were also strange limits on what would be accepted. For instance an Oyster Card used by a pensioner is fine. An Oyster card used by a young person isn’t. And, of course, older people tend to vote Tory. Weird, eh?

It’s going to be interesting to see what happens at the polling stations today. Apparently extra staff have had to be employed and police are on standby.


And that’s another point… you have the choice to turn it off on your phone.

Imagine if the Government forced biometric ID and you couldn’t turn it off


From the site:

Should your Enhanced Library Card be lost or stolen, it and the information on it could be used to perform identity theft.

Well There It Is Jurassic Park GIF

My paranoia extends to not allowing government agencies in Texas to scan something that might be used later to determine what books I’ve read (in addition to the PII), but YMMV.


It’s how they caught John Doe in Se7en.



It probably is.

I love the idea of “let’s make it easier for underserved areas and people to get necessary ID”. Using the library for that is great! I have no problems with that.

I would feel a whole lot better if this was “You can use this ID to get a library card”. instead of “This ID is a library card”. There needs to be more of an explicit firewall between the two.


Typically the bar for a library card is very low, you wouldn’t be using something else to get the card, but the library card can then be leveraged with other things to get other IDs. I don’t know anything about Texas Public Libraries but it’s incredibly low in public libraries here though it can’t really be used for anything else. I would however trust our public library system to “enhance” their card in a way that the government wouldn’t. For example the government tried to push through an illegal “mandatory but not compulsory” public services card for them to track you across all interactions with the state. This data would be illegally, kept, cross referenced, used for dragnets and unspecified future purposes as it occurred to them. Libraries, on the other hand, have clear policies on data protection and retention and no inclination to go beyond them.

Though that might be different in the US by law I don’t think it is by policy in US libraries.


Yes, after a long list of various types of official photo IDs that can be used to get Austin’s enhanced library card, there is this:

Written verification issued by a homeless service agency, hospital, health clinic, social services agency, or faith-based agency within Austin confirming residency (original, signed copy on official letterhead)

So, if you’re known to people of good standing who are able/willing to vouch for you, then you still exist, you’re still a valid human being. Otherwise, if you’ve got nothing but the clothes on your back, don’t own property, don’t have a permanent address, and have lost your papers, what would you do?? This seems like a much-needed way to help people get back on their feet and rebuild a life.


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