Membership FAQ | Mechanics' Institute

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Membership FAQ


Mechanics Institute policies can be found here.


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 member will receive an additional three months of membership, and can earn up to six months of additional membership.

What are the qualifications for a student membership?

Students must be 35 years or younger and enrolled at an accredited educational institution. College students must provide proof of current enrollment with a student card and other 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 registered non-profit organization. We are grateful for your donations, which are tax-deductible. Our EIN is 94-1254644.

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 day 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 in order to use the services and collections of Mechanics' Institute. Individuals who attempt to use the library or to 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 our 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 Mechanics’ Institute 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 are subject to change due to rentals and are posted outside the Meeting Room 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 5th floor membership desk. The library and chess room hours are posted 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, view 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 Mechanics’ Institute 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, available at the library circulation desk on the 2nd or 3rd floor.

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?

Mechanics’ Institute uses your contact information to keep you up to date on things such as upcoming events via our weekly newsletters, 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, the Institute 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 donations and member support to continue to deliver outstanding programs and service.

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 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 to new and long-standing members. We also host an evening tour every quarter which provides information on both history and services and a reception for attendees interested meeting others and 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 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 [email protected] at least one week before your visit, and we will help make the arrangements for you.