Residents and property owners in Bethlehem, Bethlehem Township, Fountain Hill, and Hanover Township (Northampton County) can obtain library cards at no cost. Others may qualify for an Access card. If you don’t know where your home library is located, consult our Service Area chart.

As a member of the Bethlehem Area Public Library, you may borrow books, CDs, audiobooks and magazines for three weeks and, DVDs, games and Playaway Views for one week. There are specific checkout limits and special policies for some materials.

Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton public libraries operate a collaborative collection sharing effort known as Lehigh Valley Library System.

Materials may be renewed twice by phone, online, or in person, unless they are on reserve for another patron. If something you want has been checked out, you may reserve it. Extra copies of recent best sellers are available as rental books. If BAPL, Allentown or Easton public libraries doesn’t own a book you want, we’ll purchase it or borrow it on interlibrary loan for you.

To return items, you may bring them in either of the libraries when open, return at bookmobile stops, or you may use the two book drops on the sidewalk near Church Street (open 24 hours) or the one at the South Side Branch (open when the branch is closed). As a result of the new Lehigh Valley Library System cooperation, you also may return items to Allentown Public Library and Easton Area Public Library. If items are returned late the Library charges overdue fines.

Borrowing Audio-Visual Materials

  1. Allowable DVD checkouts by age groups are as follows:
    • Children up to12 – ratings of G or PG
    • 13 to 17 years of age – ratings of G, PG and PG13
    • 18 years of age and older – ALL ratings
    • Non-rated DVDs may be checked out by any age group
  2. DVDs, Playaway Views and games may be returned to Bethlehem’s Main Library, South Side Branch, Bookmobile, or our bookdrops. Please be careful to close them securely to prevent damage. They may also be returned at Allentown Public Library or Easton Area Public Libraries
  3. Library staff will visually inspect each DVD before it is checked out and again when it is returned. The patron who checked out the item is responsible for any damage while it is in his or her possession.
  4. If you have any problems viewing a DVD, please report it when returning it to the library.
  5. The Bethlehem Area Public Library takes no responsibility for damage to patrons’ equipment from the use of library materials.
  6. Because of copyright and licensing restrictions, DVDs may not be duplicated or broadcast. Only those DVDs licensed for public performance may be shown by organizations or public institutions. All others are for home viewing only.

Specific Checkout Limits

Limit per card, per category

Materials in ALL Collections (p/card Limit)
Books, Magazines, Toys, Puppets, Kits & Reading Bags – 50 Combined
DVDs & Playaway Views – 10 Combined
Audiobooks, Music CDs & Playaways – 10 Combined
Video Games – 3


Unless there is a reserve on an item, you may renew materials twice. You may renew in person when the library is open (bring your library card), by telephone (24 hours at 610-867-3761, ext. 226) for Main Library, or 610-867-7852 for South Side Branch, or by accessing your online account.

If you renew by phone and you leave a message, speak slowly and clearly to be sure we can understand your name. Please spell your name and repeat the phone number. We will call you to confirm that the items can be renewed.

If you renew online, please be sure to note the new due dates. If an item cannot be renewed, the screen will tell you that. If you have any problem, call us at 610-867-3761, ext. 226, (leave a message if the library is closed) or send an e-mail to Main Library or, call 610-867-7852 or email the South Side Branch.

Reserving Materials

If something you want has been checked out by another person, or if the Library has ordered it and it has not come in yet, you may reserve it.

You can reserve materials at the Main Library Information Desk, in person or by phone at 610-867-3761 x 224, at the South Side Branch 610-867-7852, on the Bookmobile, or online through your account. Also, you now can reserve most titles in the collections of Allentown Public Library or Easton Area Public Library.

There are exceptions: rental copies of best sellers cannot be reserved, nor can Allentown and Easton owned 2 week loan books, or “new” DVDs.

If you see an item you would like from Allentown, Bethlehem or Easton collections and the status in the catalog is “In”, you can call to have it set aside at no charge. For these items, you will have 3 business days to pick the item up from the library where it is located (Delivery is not available.)

When a reserved item is ready for pick up, the Library will email you a notice, or if necessary, phone you.

After notiIfcation that a reserve is in, you will have 4 business days to pick-up an item. A 50¢ handling charge will be collected for each reserve when you pick it up. After notification, if you choose not to pick the item up, you still will be charged the 50¢.

Suggestions for Purchase

If the library does not own a new book or other item that you would like us to have, you may suggest that we purchase it. You can do this:

  • in the library, at an Information Desk
  • in the Youth Services Department at the Main Library
  • filling in, printing out and returning the online form Suggestion for Purchase

We honor most book suggestions, and you will automatically be put on the reserve list. You will be notified by mail or e-mail when the item is ready for you to check it out. If we are not able to purchase it, we will borrow it from another library on interlibrary loan for you at your request. There will be a $.50 charge for the reserve or interlibrary loan.

Interlibrary Loan

If the item you’re looking for is not available within the Lehigh Valley Library System, and it is not suitable for purchase, we will attempt to borrow it from another library for you. You must be a resident of our direct service area (Bethlehem, Bethlehem Township, Fountain Hill, and Hanover Township-Northampton County) or district (Nazareth, Northampton, Hellertown library service areas) and have a current Bethlehem library card. If you have an Access card but do not live within our district, we cannot do an interlibrary loan for you; you must go to your home library.

You may request interlibrary loans in person at the Main Library Adult Services desk, the South Side branch, or the Bookmobile; by phoning the Main Library at 610-867-3761, ext. 399; or by e-mailing.

We borrow print materials, audiobooks, music CDS, and DVDs. We cannot borrow reference materials, current textbooks, or copies of whole journals. We will also supply photocopies of journal articles, if these are not available via our databases.

Checkout periods are 4-weeks, with no renewals for DVDs or new materials. We will grant two renewals for all other items. At times, a due date may be adjusted according to lending library direction. In such cases, you will be notified.

Items are checked out to your account upon receipt with shipping time and pickup time factored into due date. We notify you that items are ready for pickup via your preferred notice method. We are not responsible in the case of missed notices due to spam filters, malfunctioning or non-existent voice mail applications, or otherwise missed messages. We ask that borrowed ILL items be returned to the Main Library Adult Services desk, South Side Desk, or Bookmobile. No book drops or other library drop-offs, please.

The average turnaround time for an interlibrary loan is two to four weeks. There is a $.50 handling fee due when item is picked up. If request is canceled after item has shipped, or if item is not picked up, the $.50 charge will still apply. Occasionally, lending libraries charge borrowing fees. In such cases, we will discuss with you any additional fees that may apply before processing your request. Our usual $.20 per page copy fee will be added to article requests.

If you have questions, you may also email or call us at 610-867-3761, ext. 399.

Returning Materials

All library materials can be returned to the Main Library, the South Side Branch, or the Bookmobile, any time they are open. With the exception of HTCC EZ-Lend, materials do not have to be returned to the same location where you checked them out. You may also return items to Allentown Public Library or Easton Area Public Library.

Materials may be placed in the two book drops on Church Street in front of the Main Library 24 hours a day. The only exceptions are that the book drops are locked at 5 pm on New Year’s Eve and on July 4th. They are re-opened at 8 am the following morning. Materials returned to the book drops before the library opens at 10 am are checked in as if they had been returned the previous business day.

The book drop in the door of the South Side Branch is open only when the Branch is closed.

You may return our books to other public libraries in Pennsylvania, but please be sure that the library is a participant in the Access Pennsylvania program and will return the books to us. PLEASE DO NOT RETURN DVDS, GAMES OR PLAYAWAY VIEWS TO LIBRARIES OTHER THAN BETHLEHEM, ALLENTOWN OR EASTON.

Overdue Fines & Notices

Maximum fine threshold per card is $10.00. Once amount is reached, privileges are withdrawn.

Note: Fines are charged on days when the library is closed due to the availability of the book drops.

You may have your overdue notices mailed to you via the postal service, or emailed to you directly from our automation system. They will be mailed unless you sign up to Get Your Library Notices by Email. If you choose to have notices by email, you will not receive any notices by regular mail.The advantage of email notification is that you will receive courtesy notices BEFORE an item is due. You are responsible for keeping your email address up-to-date.

If you lose or damage library materials, you are charged the item price plus $5.00 processing fee.

It is the Library’s decision whether or not to accept a replacement copy of a lost or damaged item. Items lost and owned by Allentown or Easton must be paid in cash or by check if paid at BAPL.

You may pay your fines:

  • With cash or check at all locations
  • Online, through your Library Account, using a credit or debit card
  • Through the mail by check
  • In person at the Library using credit (Visa, MasterCard, Discover) or debit card
  • By phoning 610-867-3761 x203 during open business hours to pay by credit

When charges on accounts reach $25.00 we use the services of a library collection agency.

Other Charges:

  • Photocopies 20¢
  • Microfilm Photocopies 25¢
  • Replacement Card $ 3.00
  • Network Printing (per pg) 20¢ for black & white and $ 1.00 for color
  • Rental Books (21 days) $ 3.00

Books (hardcover and paperback), music CDs, magazines, toys, puppets, kits, reading bags, and interlibrary loans

  • Charges per day: $0.20
  • Maximum Fine: $10.00
  • First notice – 14 days overdue
    Final notice – 28 days overdue
    Bill (considered lost) – 42 days overdue

DVDs, Games, and Playaway Views

  • Charges per day: $1.00
  • Maximum Fine: $10.00
  • First notice – 7 days overdue
    Final notice – 28 days overdue
    Bill (considered lost) – 42 days overdue

Collection Agency

Since May 1, 2000, the Bethlehem Area Public Library has been using the services of a library collection agency to retrieve overdue materials and to collect charges that exceed $24.99. When accounts are turned over to the collection agency, a $10.00 non-refundable fee is added.

Who will be sent to collection:

  • Patrons whose materials have not been returned within 2 weeks of receiving their third notice. Notices are sent when books are 14 days overdue, 28 days overdue, and 42 days overdue. (For DVDs, games and Playaway Views, notices will be sent when they are 7 days overdue, 28 days overdue and 42 days overdue.)
  • Patrons who owe $25.00 or more in fines and fees. They will receive a bill and be given two weeks to pay before their names are sent to the collection agency.


  • More library materials are returned, saving what it would cost to replace them
  • More fines are paid, giving the library money for more new materials and services
  • Staff time is put to use in more positive ways, providing better library service to our patrons
  • More responsible use of taxpayers’ money

Questions? Contact us

Questions? Comments?

We strive to be a welcoming place for healthy child development, parent and community involvement, and life-long literacy beginning at birth. Let us hear from you if you have any questions or comments about BAPL and its services.

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