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Proposal would make Dallas library cards a new form of ID

A Dallas Public Library Card next to a stack of books and a pen.
Photo Illustration by Alejandra Martinez
Dallas Public Library cards include a person's full name. Advocates say a modified library card should be used as another form of government issued ID.

Accessing basic services can be difficult without a government issued ID. An advocacy group says it has a solution: let people use their library cards.

Members of the Texas Organizing Project hope to meet with Dallas city council members soon. They want their proposal to use library cards as valid identification to be included in the next Dallas budget, which is approved in September.

TOP said that would help many groups that frequently have difficulty getting the help they need: undocumented people, the formerly incarcerated and people experiencing homelessness.

“Many times, we don’t realize how much an identification is needed until the moment we don’t have one,” said Jessica Azua, TOP Immigration Justice campaign director. “But right now, to get your COVID vaccine or your booster shot, you need to show who you are.”

Dallas resident Fidelia Barraza said she has been unable to get an appointment at the Mexican Consulate to renew her matrícula, a form of ID that’s recognized by police agencies, employers and banks. The ID expired a year ago.

Con la tarjeta yo podría ir a comprar las medicinas de los niños. Si me piden una identificación en la farmacia, pues podré mostrar la tarjeta,” Barraza said in Spanish.

(“With the card I would be able buy medication. If they ask me for identification at the pharmacy I can then show my card.”)

The enhanced library card would show the recipient’s photo, name, address, date of birth and phone number. It would be accepted by the police and other city departments as a valid ID.

Certain agencies in San Antonio already recognize the enhanced library cards as a valid form of ID.

“We’ve issued library cards to people who just got out of prison for many years so the idea of issuing cards was nothing new to us,” Dale McNeill, San Antonio Public Library’s Assistant Director of Public Services said.

The San Antonio library system has issued 150 cards at four of their branch locations since November 2020.

McNeill said establishing “identity is powerful.”

Erika Cerrillo, a TOP Dallas organizer said the organization has had more than 1,000 conversations with residents.

“They have shared with us how important this is, how they have noticed the importance of an identification for them, and they're excited that there's someone who is fighting for this here in Dallas,” Cerrillo said.

Editor’s note: This story has been modified after publication to clarify that enhanced library cards are not yet widely accepted in San Antonio as a valid form of ID. Only certain agencies like the San Antonio Police Department accept the enhanced library cards.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member for KERA News. Email Alejandra at You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.

Alejandra Martinez is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). She's covering the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities and the city of Dallas.