Dallas could adopt a plan to offer enhanced library cards, which would work like student identification within the City of Dallas.
The Dallas Public Library would partner with other City departments, such as Dallas Water Utilities, as well as Dallas County to accept the cards in lieu of ID. They could also be used for vaccinations and possibly Dallas ISD and Dallas Area Rapid Transit purposes.
The Texas State Department of Health already recognizes enhanced library cards from San Antonio, San Marcos and Harris County. Austin is currently working on a plan to offer the cards.
They’re not federally recognized ID and couldn’t be used for voting or airport checkpoints.
But they could open access to services for anyone lacking a state ID, such as immigrants, unhoused residents and the formerly incarcerated.
The cards are a way to offer “digital equity” in Dallas, as cardholders would be given access to library services that require ID, such as checking out laptops and hotspots.
Texas Organizing Project first pitched the idea to City Council last year.
A presentation to Council members Tuesday estimated a cost of $4,800 each to install enhanced library card systems in the Central Library and four branches. The system, which includes a printer and laptop, can be mobile and taken to special events as well.
Library staff would be trained to recognize more than 40 documents that can be used to verify applicants’ names, residences and dates of birth. Expired passports, drivers licenses from other states, shelter ID cards with photos, prison inmate IDs, consular cards or IDs from other countries are among the credentials that could be accepted.
San Antonio and San Marcos provided the Dallas Public Library with training materials they developed.
Members of City Council’s Quality of Life, Arts and Culture Committee responded favorably to the plan.
Mayor Pro-Tem Chad West suggested that more funding could be found to roll out the enhanced library card program at all 30 of the city’s libraries. Councilmember Casey Thomas said he’s heard from constituents how the lack of ID can affect people’s lives negatively. And Councilmember Omar Narvaez said the cards can also provide gender affirmation.