MBL ID Card Basics

Access cards are issued to employees, faculty, and students of affiliated Woods Hole institutions, as well as to MBL conference attendees. This card serves as an ID badge, name tag, MBLWHOI Library card, and provides access to many MBL services/buildings.

Cards are printed and issued at the Swope Building, Monday-Friday between 8am-5pm. Please bring a driver’s license or a photo-ID when picking up your access card (this does not apply to conference attendees). The ID Office can add a photograph to your id (except conference attendees) and will hole punch the card if you wish to wear it on a lanyard.

Your access card has a wide magnetic strip that must be swiped through card readers at designated MBL doors for after hours access to selected buildings, the MBLWHOI Library, and the Lillie elevator.

It is critical to properly swipe the card through card readers. The wide magnetic stripe on the back of the card must be on the right as you face the reader. Make sure the card is flat against the reader and not at an angle. Swipe the card downward at a steady pace. The light on the reader should change from orange to green indicating that the door has been unlocked. If the light changes to red, it indicates the card was either not swiped properly or the cardholder is not authorized for entrance through that door.

Each card is individually programmed to provide access to specific services/buildings (dependent upon your local affiliation). Many online services will prompt you for your five digit “access number” to authenticate your eligibility for these services (the access number is printed to the left of the barcode or bottom left on conference cards).

Access Card privileges may include:

MBL Computer network

  • Register for network access in dorms and buildings
  • Wireless computing at the MBL campus

MBL after hour building access (as authorized)

  • Lillie, Loeb, MRC, Starr and Rowe
  • Selected dormitories


  • 24/7 access to the physical collections in Lillie
  • Book borrowing (where authorized)
  • Desktop document delivery services
  • Remote access to e-journals and databases

The access card is a permanent card that can be reprogrammed for future visits.

Need Help?

Need Help?

Contact the Help Desk by phone at 508-289-7654 or via email at helpdesk@mbl.edu (8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., M-F, closed on MBL Holidays).