Is Your School on The List? A Student Guide to Getting a Santa Clara County Library Card

It's complex but logical: Here's why Mountain View-Los Altos High School District students get cards, and why Los Gatos Union School District students can thank Daves Avenue Elementary School for their eligibility.

Beginning July 1, a county library card will cost $80 to non-residents of the Santa Clara County Library District—but not for many students, said Nancy Howe, deputy county librarian, who had the task of implementing the student card system.

Non-resident students, pre-school through Grade 12, will still be able to get a free, limited-use card if they attend a school in one of the member cities of the county library district, or attend school districts whose boundaries overlap with the county library district member-city boundaries. This also applies to private schools, charter schools and qualifying home schools.

The nine member cities include: Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill or Saratoga. Schools in the unincorporated county areas, including parts of Palo Alto, also qualify.

"We've tried," said Nancy Howe. "We've had a staff working on this ever since they made the decision so we can get on with services as quickly as possible—but I'm sure we haven't thought of everything."

Howe planned to be at the Friday, helping out with the first transition day, and other administrators had fanned out to libraries where they thought people would need assistance, such as the , where students from Mountain View attend school in Los Altos, and vice versa.

  • Pre-school through 12th grade school age students
  • Attend public and private schools that are part of school districts whose boundaries overlap with the Santa Clara County Library District city boundaries
  • Applicants must provide proof of residential address or student ID or proof of student status with school affiliation and a mailing address for the one-year card.

The student card offers the same privileges as resident library cards with the exception that check-outs are limited to 5 items and 2 holds at one time.

Some clear examples include Mountain View students in the because its boundaries overlap as described. Similarly, West San Jose students who attend schools in the Fremont Union High School District or Cambrian School District, for example, are eligible because the district overlaps with cities that are members of the library district.

It's a complex situation, however, even though there is a logic and consistency applied, because it's not always easily apparent which schools qualify, Howe said.

Both (LGUSD) and are examples of the wrinkles of the new rules.

For example, LGUSD students can thank one of its schools——that is located in Monte Sereno and part of the library district, for making them all eligible to county library cards now.

"It's just over the city line," Howe said. "The idea is that children study together, collaborate together, use the data bases together at home," said Howe said.

And Palo Alto Unified School District families may wonder what makes so special that they can get county library cards that the rest of the district kids can't.

"We have some small pockets in unincorporated areas like that where we picked up schools but not those districts," she said. Escondido is not within the city boundaries of any member city of the library district.

"We're not issuing student cards to the entire Palo Alto Unified School District because it's a school that is in the unicorporated county," she said.

Confused? There's help.

Over the past month, the county library staff developed a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page Even more anticipated, it just posted a five-page list of schools that that students can check on the Santa Clara County Library website.

The list, which is also contained on a pdf format document above, only has public schools at this point. Howe advised familie to check back to the county library website because they are still compiling the list of private schools including pre-schools.

"I'm not saying we don't have a mistake in that list," Howe said, "but have tried to be methodical."

Be sure to talk to librarians to see how your student might qualify, she said.

And there's no need to rush, particularly if you're planning on taking vacations this summer, Howe advised. The one-year cards are active from the day they are qualified, so students might want to make sure they get the full 365 days of use.

"A lot of people were tearing out their hair trying to figure this out," said Howe. "We want to make it work for families."


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