Frequently Asked Questions

Getting to the Library

When is the library open?

Mon.-Thurs. 9am-9pm
Friday: 9am-7pm
Saturday: 9am-5pm
Sunday: 1-5pm
View more details here

On which holidays does the library close?

Here is an updated list of holiday closures

How do I get to the library?

Go here and scroll down for a map, directions, and public transportation information. We are located at: 123 Main Street Watertown, MA 02472

Is there free parking? What is the parking situation?

Sorry, we do not have free parking. The parking lot behind the library is a municipal metered parking lot. The meters take nickels, dimes, and quarters. It costs $0.25 to park for 30 minutes. Spaces are metered between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Why do I have to pay to park?

The library is located very close to MBTA bus lines. Metered parking helps keep spots available for library users instead of commuters parking for the day.

How do I arrange homebound delivery of library items?

We offer a weekly delivery service of materials to the homebound. To apply for this service, fill out this form.

Getting a Library Card

How do I get a library card?

Apply in person at the library or apply online for a temporary, limited service card. You will need to come into the library to complete your application. In either case, you must present a photo ID and proof of address.

What documents do I need to show in order to get a library card?

A current, valid Massachusetts Driver’s license or Massachusetts State Identification card with your current address.
OR one document from Section 1 and one document from Section 2 below.
Section 1. Proof of identification
–current or expired (i.e. driver's license, passport, school ID)
-Passport Alien Resident Card
-Government issued cards, such as Military ID State issued photo ID including welfare, Medicaid or FID card
-University or school ID
Section 2. Proof of current local address* (must include applicant’s name)
-Utility bill or tax bill (dated within the last 60 days), an eBill can also be accepted Imprinted bank check or deposit slip
-Official school schedule with applicant’s name and address typed on it
-Official letter verifying residency and mailing address dated within last 30 days from a social service provider, temporary employer that provides housing, or a short-term residence
-Postcard mailed to applicant from the library
-No longer acceptable as proof of current address: lease agreements, rent receipts, and personal letters. *a Post Office Box or business address is not sufficient – a current residential address is required.

Do I need to live in Watertown to get a library card?

You do not need to live in Watertown to get a library card. Anyone who has proof of a current Massachusetts address is welcome to apply for a card.

At what age can children get their own library cards?

Children can get their own library cards at any age.

How much does a library card cost?

Your first library card is free. A replacement card costs $1.

What is the Minuteman Library Network?

The Minuteman Library Network (MLN) is a network of 43 libraries with 62 locations in the Metrowest region of Massachusetts. You can use your library card to request and check out items at any of these libraries.

What other libraries accept my card?

Here is a list.

Can I use my Boston Public Library card at WFPL?

Boston Public Library cards can be registered with the WFPL. If you visit the Cirulation desk, we will add a new account. This way, you can use the same card in BPL and Minuteman Library Network.

Why did my card expire?

Library cards expire after 5 years in order to keep your information current. Library cards must be renewed in person and with proper photo ID. To update your library account status, bring your expired library card and photo ID to the Circulation Desk.

Borrowing and Returning Items (Circulation)

What types of items can I check out from the library?

We have books, DVDs and Blu-rays, CDs, magazines, video games, ebooks, audiobooks, ereaders and other equipment. 

How many items can I borrow at one time?

You may have a total of up to 150 items checked out on one library card. There is a limit of 2 video games checked out per card.

When is my item due?

-Express books, new books, TV series, magazines, and video games: 2 weeks
-All other books, DVDs, audiobooks, and music CDs: 3 weeks
-New DVDs: 1 week
-Ereaders/tablets: 2 weeks
-Kill-a-watts: 2 weeks
-Laptops/Headphones/Mice (internal use only): 2 hours
-Museum Passes must be returned before the library opens the day after your museum visit.
Go here for more information about borrowing, renewing, and returning. 

Can I return items from other libraries to Watertown?

We accept returned items that were checked out from any Minuteman Library. Here is a list of all Minuteman locations.

How do I manage my account online?

You can log in to your online account with your library card number and password. From there, you can place holds, keep track of your reading history, book museum passes, and so much more! Need help? Check out this page for more information.

What’s my password?

If you elected to set up a password when opening your library account, it will be the last 4 digits of your phone number. If you need your password reset, you can come into the library and we will reset it to the last 4 digits of your phone number. We recommend changing your password once you log in to your account.

Can I see my family member’s library account?

If you have your family member’s library card, we will be happy to check out their holds or accept fine payments. We do not allow any changes to library accounts to be made without the account holder present, no matter their age, and do not allow any access to any account without a card.

How can I renew an item?

There are three different ways to renew your items. You can renew an item by logging in to your online account, calling the library with either your library card number or the item’s barcode number, OR coming to the circulation desk.

Why can’t I renew my item?

There are several reasons why you may not be able to renew an item: -You have already renewed it twice -It is an Express item and therefore non-renewable -Other patrons are waiting for the item -You have accrued fines of $10 and above

How do I request an item?

You may place a hold on any item in the Minuteman network through your online account or by visiting the Reference desk or calling 617.972.6436. You can request items outside of the Minuteman network through one of our interlibrary loan services. Call the Reference desk for details.

How do I request an item from a library outside of the network (interlibrary loan)?

You can search all Massachusetts libraries, and put in a request for an item, through the Commonwealth Catalog. If you would like an item that is only available outside of Massachusetts, you can visit the Reference desk and fill out an Interlibrary Loan form.

Why can't I place more than 3 Interlibrary Loan requests at a time? Why can't I renew my ILLs?

Interlibrary Loans are one of the most glorious things about public libraries in America! Even with an amazing consortium of 43 libraries in Minuteman Library Network, our patrons still sometimes want access to titles that none of them own. Through the magic of interlibrary loan, we are often able to borrow those items from libraries throughout the United States. Now, there are a couple of things to note about Interlibrary Loans: 1. They’re labor intensive. It takes a lot of work throughout the system to place and track these holds, ship them to the borrowing library, and then pack them up and return them to the loaning library. 2. They’re expensive. For Watertown residents, we don’t ever charge a fee for interlibrary loans, but they cost us quite a bit. First, of course, are the shipping charges, but in addition to that, some libraries charge for loaning out materials via Interlibrary Loan, and the town of Watertown is covering that charge for our residents. Because of these factors, we limit Interlibrary Loan requests to 3 at a time. There are 2 types of Interlibrary Loans: 1. Items borrowed from other participating Massachusetts libraries through the Commonwealth Catalog (CommCat). CommCat ILLs cannot be renewed, based on the policy of the Massachusetts Library System. 2. Items borrowed from beyond Massachusetts via ILL. These items are renewable on a case-by-case basis, and the decision is made by the loaning library. Therefore, we can never say definitively whether or not an item is renewable. What we can do is request a renewal through the CLIO ILL system, and wait to see if the loaning library grants the request.

What are the late fees?

Adult and Teen materials returned late: $0.10 per day with a maximum fine of $3 per item
Children's materials returned late: $0.05 per day with a maximum fine of $1.50 per item
Laptop computers returned late: $10.00 per hour
Museum passes returned late: $10.00 per day per pass

How can I pay late fees?

You can pay late fees by coming to the circulation with your library card and paying with cash or check.
You can also pay your fines using your online account. Log in to My Account. Click on the link that says "$xx.xx in unpaid fines and bills". Click on the Pay Online button and follow the instructions to choose which fines you wish to pay, and to provide your personal information and credit card information. If you uncheck any of the fines, click on the Recalculate button to calculate the new total. Once your payment is accepted, you will see a confirmation screen that you can print as your receipt. If you have provided an Email address, you will also receive an Email receipt as well.

I know I returned an item, but it is still on my account. What do I do?

If you have returned an item but it is still showing up on your account, you can call the Circulation desk at 617.972.6431 and we will attempt to track down the item. If we cannot locate the item right away, we will look into the situation further and ensure that you are not generating late fees for an item you have already returned.

How do I pay for a lost item, and can I get a refund if I find it?

If you have lost an item, you can pay by check or cash at the Circulation desk, or by credit card online. If you find the lost item, we would be happy to refund you if you present your receipt and the item at the Circulation desk. You also have the option to purchase a brand new copy of the same exact item instead of paying a replacement fee. Please note that the Minuteman Library Network does not offer refunds on credit card payments.

Do you take payment by credit cards?

If you'd like to pay late fees with a credit card, you may do so using your online account. We do not accept credit cards at the Circulation desk.

Museum Passes

How do I reserve museum passes?

You can reserve a museum pass online. Or, call the Circulation desk at 617.972.6431.

What passes does the library own?

There is a list on this page.

When can I pick up the museum pass? When do I have to return it?

You can pick up your museum pass one day in advance or on the day of your visit. For some passes, you will need to return the pass before the library opens on the day following your visit. For more information about museum pass policies, go here.

Why can't I pick up my museum passes when I book them?

Many museums give us a limited number of pass cards that are used on multiple days during the week. These can only go out the day before or the day of the reservation, as they will be in use by another patron before then. These passes need to be returned to the library before 9am on the day following the reservation. If the museum pass is a paper coupon good for a specific date, it can be picked up a week in advance. We cannot replace any lost tickets, and they cannot be used on a date other than the original reservation date.

Computers

Why do I need a library card number to get on a computer?

We have a time management system to make sure that everyone can use a computer when they are all in use. It requires that you enter your library card number to put you in the queue to use a computer.

How do I log in to the computers?

Type your Minuteman Library Card number into the login box in the middle of the screen and then click the "Login" button. Please do not include spaces. You may also purchase a guest pass for $1.00 at the Print Payment Station next to the printer. Go here for more details about signing on to our computers.

Why does it cost money to get on a computer (via the purchase of a guest card?)

Everyone is entitled to 2 free prints a day. To prevent people from gaming the system and getting free prints by using guest passes we decided to charge. We decided on $1 because it is the smallest amount we can charge through our computer management system. There is always the option to open a library card for free.

Do you have wifi?

Yes, the library has both free and secured networks. Ask for the password to the secure network at any service desk.

How do I print from a computer in the library?

Use the print button to print the document or webpage like you normally would. The first two black & white pages will automatically be sent to the printer, and a dialog box will remind you to pick them up.  If you are printing more than two pages, a dialog box will appear. The dialog box will indicate how much the charge will be. (If the existing balance on your print account is not sufficient to cover the cost of the print job, the dialog box will prompt you to add money to your account.)  Press “yes” to print or press “no” to cancel your job. If the balance on your print account is not sufficient to cover the cost of the print job, click "no" to cancel the job. You may submit the job again after you have added money to your print account

How much does it cost to print or make copies?

You may print up to two black & white pages for free per day.  Each page after that is $0.10 for black & white or $0.40 for color.  

How do I print from my own laptop in the library?

You may print wirelessly by going here.

Does the library have a scanner?

Yes, the library has a public scanner. You can scan to print, email or USB drive.

What software is on library computers?

It depends on the computer, but this page has a detailed list of software available at the library.

Does the library offer computer assistance?

Yes, we do! Bring your questions to our weekly e-Tea program on Thursday mornings and evenings.

Downloads and Databases

Why can't I access database X with my library card?

There is a standard set of databases provided by the state (Massachusetts Library Systems), and by our consortium (Minuteman Library Network) for use by all patrons regardless of place of residence or home library. Beyond those, the WFPL purchases additional resources for use by the residents of Watertown. Each of the surrounding communities are also members of the same library consortium, and there is a standard agreement that we will each expend our municipal resources in support of the taxpayer base in our own community. While we all agree to lend physical materials (books, dvds, etc) to patrons of other libraries, databases aren’t configurable to temporarily loan access to someone from another library or town. As these resources are quite expensive, the decision was made that each library would purchase these resources for our own communities. If you’d like access to this resource, we recommend you send a message to the Reference Department of your home library requesting they consider adding it.

I am having trouble. How can I get help?

We are happy to help. Bring your device and questions to our weekly e-Tea program on Thursday mornings and evenings.

Study Rooms and Meeting Rooms

What is the difference between a study room and a meeting room?

Study rooms are primarily used for individuals and small groups. Meeting rooms can be reserved by groups and organizations for presentations and events.

How many study rooms and meeting rooms do you have?

The library offers 3 private study rooms. Each study room has a white board, electrical outlets, table and four chairs. The library offers 3 meeting rooms: the Watertown Savings Bank Room, the Lucia Mastrangelo Meeting Room, and the Raya Stern Trustees Room.

How do I reserve a study room?

You can reserve a study room online here. Take a look at the calendar to see when the rooms are open, then click Reserve a Room at the top. Create an account or log in. Alternatively, you can come to the Reference Desk or call 617.972.6436. Study rooms are in high demand and should be booked in advance.

How do I reserve a meeting room?

You can reserve a meeting room online here. Take a look at the calendar to see when the rooms are open, then click Reserve a Room at the top. Create an account or log in. Alternatively, you can come to the Reference Desk or call 617.972.6436.

Can I use a study room or meeting room if no one is currently in the room?

If a study room is empty, you may ask if you can reserve the room at the Reference Desk. If a meeting room is empty, you may be in the room until the arrival of the next person to whom the room is reserved.

I would like a book a study room more than 2 hours per day. Why can't I?

Our study rooms are in great demand – in fact, we booked more than 4,000 study room reservations last year! In order to make sure they are available to as many people as possible, we limit reservations to 2 hours per day (per person or party). If the room is not booked after you, you’re welcome to stay longer and use the room while it remains vacant. Also, while we can’t reserve study room time in excess of 2 hours per day for you, we can often find you a good, quiet place to work, so please do check in with the staff at the Reference Desk if you need help finding a good spot.

Activities and Events

Do I need a library card to attend an activity or event?

No, you do not need a library card to attend or register for an activity or event.

Do I need to register for an activity/event?

Some activities and events require registration, but most do not. If an activity or event requires registration, it should be clearly noted on any promotional material and on our website.

How do I sign up for an activity or event?

For Adult activities and events, register at the Reference desk, 617.972.6436 or wfpl.eventbrite.com For Children’s activities and events, register at the Children’s desk or call 617.972.6435

Are library activities and events free?

Yes, they are free. There may be rare exceptions, but this will be clearly noted.

Collection

How do I suggest an item that I’d like the library to buy for its collection?

Use the Suggest a Purchase form, or talk to one of the librarians at the Adult, Children, or Teen Reference desks.

Book Sale and Book Donations

When is the book sale open?

The book sale is open every day during library hours. When the café is open, you may pay at the register. If the café is closed, you can still pay with cash at the circulation desk.

Does the Library take book donations?

Donations of gently used items are gratefully accepted. No encyclopedias, old computer books, textbooks or magazines, please. Donations can be dropped off at the Main Circulation desk.

Project Literacy

Who are Project Literacy learners?

Our learners are adults who want to improve their lives and the lives of their families. Some are immigrants learning English and about American culture. Some are preparing to become U.S. citizens. Some already speak English, but want to improve their literacy skills.

What does Project Literacy do?

We provide free English classes taught by professional teachers. We also offer one-on-one or small group tutoring by volunteer tutors.

How do I get into the classes or get a tutor?

Call us at 617.924.8797 to find out when you can register. Once registered, students go on a waiting list. From the waiting list, we enroll new students in classes in September, November, and January. We enroll new students in tutoring at different times during the year. We do not register students on the phone. You must make an appointment to register. At registration we will give you a short test to find out which level of instruction you need.

How many students and tutors are in Project Literacy?

Over 300 students study with Project Literacy. Half are in evening English classes and half have tutors. There are over 100 volunteer tutors.

How can I help?

Donate
Become a volunteer tutor
Direct English language learners to the program

How can I become a tutor?

Complete a volunteer application, give us a call at 617-924-8797, or contact our tutor coordinator, Jacky Van Leeuwen at jvanleeuwen@watertown-ma.gov. Tutor training generally takes place in the spring and fall and is for a total of 15 hours, one night a week for five weeks.

What qualifications do I need to become a tutor?

You need to speak, read, and write English, be a good listener, and be able to spare two hours a week. That’s it.

Who pays for the program?

The library contributes approximately 65% of the budget and the Friends of Project Literacy raise 35% of the budget through grants, corporations and individual donations.

HATCH

Where is HATCH?

HATCH is NOT at the library. We are located in the Arsenal Project (formerly the Arsenal Mall) at 485 Arsenal St. Enter at the Old Navy entrance. You will find us between Pearl Vision and Game Stop.We thank the Arsenal Project for generously providing retail space free of charge.

Who is HATCH for?

HATCH is for adults and children. We recommend children be 8 or older to fully take advantage of HATCH. Children 12 and under must be supervised by a parent or guardian.

Is HATCH free?

Yes, use of HATCH is free. The WFPL/HATCH reserves the right to charge for materials.

When is HATCH open?

HATCH is staffed by volunteers. We have open hours when we have volunteers available. Check out our calendar to see when you can visit.

How can I use HATCH?

You may come any time we're open and use HATCH for a project you’d like to work on. You may come when one of our volunteer skill mentors is available to teach skills. Some skills you may learn are coding, soldering, sewing, basic hand crafts, 3D modeling, etc. Our skill mentors have a broad range of skills, check the calendar frequently to find out when they are at HATCH. You may come to a class. Some classes require registration. Details are on the calendar. Do you have skills you’d like to share? Consider becoming a skill mentor.

Can I use HATCH if I don't live in Watertown?

Yes, anyone is welcome to visit and use HATCH. Some activities and equipment require a Watertown Free Public Library card or Minuteman Library Network card. Any Massachusetts resident with proof of address and photo identification is eligible for a card and can register at the library on 123 Main St.

How can I donate to HATCH?

HATCH is funded through grants and donations - none of the regular library budget is used for HATCH operations. If you would like to donate you may do so with a credit card here. You may also make a check out to the Watertown Free Public Library Building Committee and send it to the library at 123 Main Street. Because we have a small space, we generally do not accept materials donations. If you have something you think would be particularly useful to HATCH you may contact Natasha at nr-k@watertown-ma.gov.

How can my organization collaborate with HATCH?

Collaboration is integral to the maker movement. We are interested in partnering with local organizations to make sure HATCH is reaching all those who can benefit from our operation. Please contact Natasha at nr-k@watertown-ma.gov with inquiries.

More

Does the library have a fax machine?

We do not have a fax machine for public use. The UPS Store in Watertown Square does.

Does the library have a Notary Public?

Yes. Feel free to stop by the Administration Office on the second floor of the library from 9am-5pm Monday through Friday. An appointment isn’t necessary, but you may email nr-k@watertown-ma.gov or call 617-972-6434 if you’d like to schedule one.

Does the library have tax forms?

Yes. In 2016 we were supplied with 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ forms, and instruction booklets for each.

Is food and drink allowed in the library?

Food is not allowed in the library outside of the library café. Covered drinks are allowed in the library.

Where can I find more information about library policies?

Here you go.

When was the library built/renovated?

The first Watertown library was a room in Town Hall and was opened on March 31, 1869. Our original building was built in 1884 with additions or renovations in 1900, 1934, 1956, 1991, and 2006.

I have a different question. Who can I ask?

Account information, museum passes, renewing items: Circulation 617.972.6431 kkottas@watertown-ma.gov
-Adult programs, placing a hold on an item, booking a study room: Reference 617.972.6436 jclements@watertown-ma.gov
-Children’s programs and materials: Children’s Dept. 617.972.6435 emiranda@watertown-ma.gov
-Teen programs and materials: Teen Dept. 617.972.6437
-English classes or volunteer tutoring: Project Literacy 617.924.8797 pbiggers@watertown-ma.gov
-Yearbooks, local history, genealogy: Local History 617.972.6431 x17191 jclements@watertown-ma.gov
-Library director: 617.972.6434 lcole@watertown-ma.gov
-To get information about meeting rooms or for library employment questions, contact the Administration Dept. at 617.972.6434 or email nr-k@watertown-ma.gov
-For technology or AV assistance: Technical Services Dept. 617.972.6440 wfpltechteam@gmail.com