Thursday, July 10, 2014

Inch Eighteen: The Library Card

My first library card probably looked a lot like this one. 
Nana Mona (Ramona's maternal grandmother) sent me a note earlier this week:

Hi! I thought you and Grandpa Warning would be happy to know Ramona as of today has her own library card! She checked out Hands are not for hitting, the wheels on the bus, the potty chair story and the belly button book!

Mona was right. I was thrilled. Warren smiled at the news. My dad, when he heard, was very pleased.

"I bet she's reading before too long," he said.

Well, Ramona has not yet hit the 2 year old mark. Reading is still off in the future. But books, and the love of books, and, I hope, the love of reading, are already deeply engrained in Ramona.

But a library card before the second birthday!

When I was a child, you could not get a library card until you could print your name. I think you only had to be able to make it through your first name, but that was a solid benchmark from which the librarians did not waver. I remember practicing printing "April" over and over again. The letters were scraggly, skewed, tipsy, but, finally, I could laboriously print "April" and the card was mine.

The magic and power of that first library card (and all the cards since then) have exceeded countless times over the thrill Charlie Bucket felt when he found one of Willy Wonka's golden ticket.

The library world, like so many others, has changed with the times and gone digital on me. My card is no longer cardboard, softening with age and use. (I tended to wear mine out quickly—first from my book selections filling them up and then, when the librarians stopped writing the books on the card, just from sheer handling.) Now it is a slick plastic tab with a bar code on it. I no longer take my books up to the tall, forbidding main desk presided over by a steely eyed librarian, who would pluck the book card from the rear pocket, ink my card number on it, and stamp a date on the pocket. Now I check out my own books, bypassing the clerks at the low slung checkout station. The card catalogue of yore, the greatest pre-Google search engine of all time, has been replaced by computer monitors and an indexing system with a fraction of a card catalogue's intuitive capacity. (I still insist that the reason I can find things on Google so quickly is from decades of using a card catalogue, which required one to think of how best to put together a search.) And we have gone from the "Shhh! No talking, no laughter, no food, no drinks" age to the sound of children, the chatter of teens, and a coffee shop inside at the library's outer entrance.

And now Ramona has joined that  wonderful club: the Club of Library Card Holders. Indeed, this grandmother is very, very happy.


see you there! said...

Great library memories. We lived out in the country when I was young and no handy library. Later we moved to town. I clearly remember my Mom taking me to the library to get my first library card and I've been a big user of libraries ever since.


Jennifer said...

I remember too, practicing writing my first name for that first library card. I had a white one hand typed with my name and library#, then a green one and then yellow. They don't wear out now like they did.
One thing I do miss though is the card catalog, isn't that odd? Now that it is so easy and you can see right from home if a book is in or not. But there was something about the smell and flipping through those cards. And the cards in the books, where you could see who had the book before you, and see your own name over and over if you loved a book.

So many great memories! I hope Ramona has many more to come!

christina neumann said...

I love the library too! And I'm lucky enough to work in a small branch,very part time. My best childhood memories, of which I have very few, are walking the 11/2 to our little library and reading Nancy Drew, and Cherry Ames.
My daughter is following in my footsteps, and is getting her MLS. I'm very proud of her.