Friday, July 1, 2022 by Willow Higgins

The city of Austin has started performing on a way to use a souped-up library card as a type of identification, which is a services that would be especially helpful for those people who may well not have an official ID, like men and women suffering from homelessness or undocumented residents.

Increased library cards, which are utilised in other Texas metropolitan areas like Dallas, San Antonio, New Braunfels and San Marcos, seem like regular library playing cards, but incorporate a headshot and other information and facts like the individual’s handle and birthdate. Though the card would of program purpose as a way to rent guides, it could potentially be recognized as a sort of ID for matters like banking, housing applications or neighborhood social services. 

In Austin, the enhanced library card system is continue to in the scheduling stage, and the solutions it could be employed for is are not nevertheless identified.

The Library Commission satisfied this 7 days and talked over the chance of utilizing enhanced library playing cards regionally and the prospective fears related with their use. Emi Johnson of the Austin General public Library’s government crew has been doing the job with a amount of city departments like the Fairness Office and the law enforcement division, as effectively as Council Member Vanessa Fuentes’ business, for about six months now, reinvigorating a 2014 resolution that explored the idea.

Johnson defined that data privacy is the main problem the undertaking workforce has been grappling with. There are several factors why a particular person may well not have a point out-issued ID, these kinds of as missing obtain to a beginning certification or because they entered the U.S. without permission. For some, getting their particular info put into the procedure is about and could set them at hazard of lawful trouble.

“We could produce as much anonymity of details as achievable,” Johnson mentioned. 

Various techniques to hold information non-public are remaining explored, like storing the info with a nonprofit that is not issue to the Texas Public Info Act, a tactic one more town has employed.

“Or we could keep a visual of the document but not keep the doc by itself …. The rely on in the method and (an knowing) of what we would keep and not launch underneath court docket purchase has to be clear with the cardholder. … There is loads to explore,” Johnson mentioned.

The fee also talked about how, ideally, each individual holder of a library card would update to an improved library card due to the fact they would be helpful to everybody, not only those without having an formal ID. In purchase to diversify their attraction, an increased library card could be promoted by which include benefits like museum or park passes.

“San Antonio let us know that the first wave of (improved library card) customers had been seniors,” Johnson explained. “Seniors experienced to re-enroll (in services) with two forms of ID, and most only experienced a person, so they utilized the library card as their next. So there are other needs that go outside of the unhoused and undocumented citizens.”

At this position, the preparing crew is moving on from the exploration stage and into the group-engagement section, which Fuentes’ place of work has started to arrange.

While the Library Fee does not have an specific role in the approach nonetheless, Commissioner Lynda Infante will be the issue man or woman for the venture and will arrive to the July conference with an update and probable action in progress of the city’s finances approval assembly in August. Johnson isn’t guaranteed whether improved library playing cards will make it into this year’s funds – the complete system took San Antonio about three a long time to total – but occur late summer season it must be on the city’s radar as an future to-do.

Photograph produced offered by way of a Innovative Commons license.

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