Membership FAQ | Mechanics' Institute

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Membership FAQ

Do you offer a senior, teacher, disabled, or veteran’s discount?

At this time, we offer the same low annual membership cost of $120 for all individual adult memberships. Please note that we are unable to offer refunds of membership dues for any reason.

Do you have a member referral program?

New members who join Mechanics’ Institute may state the name of an existing member in the referral area of the application. The referring member will receive an additional three months of membership, and can earn up to six months of membership at no cost.

What are the qualifications for a student membership?

Student members must be 35 years or younger and enrolled full-time at an accredited educational institution. College students must be taking at least 12 undergraduate or 9 graduate units. College students must provide proof of current full-time enrollment by providing documentation of a current class schedule and identification (drivers’ license, government ID card, or passport). Student members may check out up to 5 items at a time and do not have access to inter-library loan services.

Are my membership dues tax-deductible?

The Mechanics’ Institute is a non-profit.  Please consult your tax advisor to determine whether you can deduct your membership dues as our members receive goods and services in exchange for their dues. We are grateful for your donations, which are 100% tax-deductible.

May I bring a guest to the library?

Members who wish to bring a guest must obtain a 15 minute pass from the security desk in the lobby. Guests must remain with members at all times. If you wish to bring a guest to work with you in the library for a day, they must first obtain a visitor’s pass from the circulation desk or membership office for $15.

May I share my card with a non-member?

Each user must have their own card to use the services and collections of the Mechanics' Institute. Individuals who attempt to use the library or check out materials using a card that does not belong to them will need to surrender the card so that the member can be notified to pick it up at the library. This is for members' protection, as any materials checked out using their cards become the responsibility (including any late fees or replacement charges that may accrue) of the member listed on the account.

Where can I take a phone call, have a meeting, or eat lunch?

Members of the Mechanics’ are free to use our 4th floor Meeting Room for brief phone calls and meetings, as well as to eat. Please respect others by keeping discussions short, and by using headphones while watching videos or listening to music. The Meeting Room hours vary by day, and are posted outside of the door.

Where can I join or renew my membership?

If you wish to join online you can do so here on our website, and you can renew online here. We are happy to help you in person at the 2nd and 3rd floor library circulation desks, or at the membership desk. The library’s open hours are on our website here. Please note that if your account has accrued library fees in excess of $29.99, you must pay fines before renewing your account.

I’m a new member. Where can I find information about resources?

You can find new membership information on our website here.

How will I be notified when my membership is due to expire?

A first renewal notice is sent out by e-mail at the beginning of the month before your membership is set to expire. A second notice is sent out by paper mail at the beginning of the month it expires.

A member of my household would like to join, but I already have an individual membership. Can I upgrade to a family membership? How?

Yes. Membership upgrades must be done in person or over the phone, and cost an additional $60 for the family, bringing the $120 individual membership fee to the $180 for a family. All we need is the name, phone number, and e-mail address of each new member.

Can non-members use the library?

Members of the public are welcome to visit the library, and check out our displays or walk through the stacks to get a sense of the space with a 15 minute guest pass, which is available at the security desk in the lobby. Every Wednesday, we have a free tour of the Mechanics’ at noon that is open to the public. For unsupervised visits longer than 15 minutes, visitors must purchase a one-day or one-week visitor’s pass.

How do visitor’s passes work?

Visitors are required to complete a short temporary application, which provides demographic and contact information. The charge for a one-day pass is $15 and the charge for a one-week pass is $45. Day passes entitle the user to use the library space until the end of the day on which the pass was purchased. Please note that this is not a 24-hour pass, but a business-day pass. Weekly passes entitle the user to use the library space for 7 business days, inclusive of the date of payment. Visitor cards must be turned in at the service desk at the end of a visit. Temporary memberships include use of the library space and Wi-Fi access. Visitors may not check out materials.

Why do I have to provide my address and contact information?

The Mechanics’ Institute uses your contact information to keep you up to date on things such as upcoming events via our weekly newsletter, when your library books are due, and when your membership is up for renewal. We do not share or sell our members’ personal information.

Where does my membership payment go?

For each member, MI spends an average of $600 to ensure that staff are able to provide the best services, library programs, member groups, and collections; that we can produce author talks, panel discussions, and social events in our historic building; and that we can host chess classes and tournaments, as well as reaching into the community via our scholastic chess program to make a difference in students’ lives. Mechanics’ Institute is a non-profit institution and we depend on member support to continue our work, going strong since 1854.

Can I get a refund of my membership dues?

Due to the low cost of membership and the technical and administrative costs of establishing accounts and providing services, Mechanics' Institute does not offer refunds of membership dues that have been paid. If you feel that you have extenuating circumstances, you may make the case in writing within the first three months of your membership payment by emailing [email protected]. Refunds will not be made more than three months after membership dues have been paid.

How can I learn more about the Mechanics’ Institute’s history and services?

Each Wednesday at noon, a rotating roster of librarians leads the free weekly building tour, which is open to the public as well as members both brand new and long-time. Quarterly, we host an evening tour, which provides in-depth information on both history and services, and is followed by a wine and cheese reception with plenty of time for mingling with other attendees interested in learning more about the Mechanics’ Institute. Watch our website or sign up for our weekly email to be notified of upcoming tours and events.

Does the Mechanics' Institute partner with any other membership libraries? How can I arrange a visit with them (or with you from one of your partners)?

Yes. You may prearrange a visit to Mechanics' Institute using your independent library's membership card, or visit one of the membership libraries we partner with if you are a current Mechanics' Institute member in good standing. Please contact membersh[email protected] at least one week before your visit, and we will make the arrangements for you.