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US Libraries for those outside the US
#1  darryl 11-04-2020, 06:41 PM
This is a theme which recurs from time to time. There have been a few US libraries offering paid cards to non-residents of the US. These cards are often attractive propositions to overseas residents, and presumably worthwhile to the libraries concerned.

It is my sad duty to report that effective June 2020 Fairfax County Public Library "is no longer able to continue supporting non-resident accounts outside of the United States."

I'm wondering if some of the few other US libraries which were offering these cards have made a similar decision. And what libraries are left?
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#2  issybird 11-04-2020, 07:05 PM
Quote darryl
This is a theme which recurs from time to time. There have been a few US libraries offering paid cards to non-residents of the US. These cards are often attractive propositions to overseas residents, and presumably worthwhile to the libraries concerned.
I think the obvious inference is that it is not worthwhile for the libraries concerned. At one point, I ran a few numbers and it seemed to me that libraries were significantly out of pocket when it came to heavy users of non-resident cards - and it seems likely that those who pay for a card are going to be heavy users. Why should Fairfax County taxpayers subsidize any out of area borrowers, unless it’s part of a quid pro quo?

TL; DR: If overseas borrowers were a net revenue source, why the heck would they cut them off?
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#3  darryl 11-04-2020, 07:53 PM
Quote issybird
I think the obvious inference is that it is not worthwhile for the libraries concerned. At one point, I ran a few numbers and it seemed to me that libraries were significantly out of pocket when it came to heavy users of non-resident cards - and it seems likely that those who pay for a card are going to be heavy users. Why should Fairfax County taxpayers subsidize any out of area borrowers, unless it’s part of a quid pro quo?

TL; DR: If overseas borrowers were a net revenue source, why the heck would they cut them off?
If you're obvious inference is correct, and I have my doubts, then why didn't they cut these cards out years ago? Or increase their fees? Your assumption that users of non-resident cards are going to be heavy users is also doubtful, and certainly not correct in my case. It was more a question of options and convenience. Including being able to borrow in Kindle formats and not even having to consider ridiculous geographic restrictions. I suspect it is probably the latter that has lead to their decision, rather than any lack of financial viability.

I am interested to hear from others who use these cards. Perhaps this is more general than just a single library. And, of course, I would like to hear what other libraries continue to offer this service.
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#4  Fbone 11-04-2020, 08:23 PM
Some years ago I called NYPL and Seattle PL to ask why they stopped issuing cards to out of state residents. They both told me it was due to publishers restrictions per Overdrive T&C.
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#5  darryl 11-05-2020, 03:13 AM
Quote Fbone
Some years ago I called NYPL and Seattle PL to ask why they stopped issuing cards to out of state residents. They both told me it was due to publishers restrictions per Overdrive T&C.
I suspect that this may well be the reason. If it is even alleged that these practices are in breach of the Overdrive T&C's then I can't imagine most libraries would want to make an issue of it. I'm grateful that I was able to join this library for a while. I suspect some will resort to piracy, but quite frankly I suspect the number of overseas people with non-resident cards is so low that it would make little difference if all of them did.

Thanks to the librarians at FCPL. It's been great. All the best.
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#6  tempest@de 11-05-2020, 05:30 AM
I had a free library of Philadelphia card that expired at the end of October, coincidentally my card was issued just before the library announced they would no longer accept out of the country members.

I know that orange county library also has library cars for out of the country members, not sure if they still do.

I would consider myself a heavy user, if not I would not have considered acquiring a membership of that library, I mainly used it for audiobooks, usually 4 per month, but I also read some books, all in all I used it to read/listen to around 80 books in my one year membership.

I remember having read issybird analysis a while back and thinking that with me the library was losing money.

Although I benefited with the use of the card I think similarly to issybird, it does not seem reasonable that the tax payers from some city should subsidize any out of area borrowers. However given the opportunity I’ would take it, if the library allows out of the country members I would consider becoming one.
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#7  John F 11-05-2020, 07:35 AM
I was an out of state card holder for FLP, and my card expired in 9/20 and I was unable to renew it.

There was also the Singapore (not a US library) that closed some years ago to out of country card holders.

I am currently a member of the Brooklyn Public Library (NY) and Orange County Library System (Florida). The OCLS is rather nice, they have several different sources (Overdrive, FReading, Axis, ...). BPL let's me Recommend, OCLS does not.

I would classify my card as a heavy reader card. I get books for my mom, and she goes through a book every other day.

I would tend to agree that the cards are not money generators. Although the libraries do have fund drives, so maybe they get some additional funds from card holder donations?
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