29 June 2016

When Was The Last Time You Used a "Physical" Library Card?

Library Cards -- Opened So Many Windows Into Literal and Imaginary Worlds

This was a recent post title on The Atlantic.

Definitely inspired some nostalgia in me.  I remember visiting our town library and the musty smell of the books back in the research section (a very dark room compared to the children’s book section which was all bright) … I loved to always see new books listed on my library card.  It was always special to go to the library and take out books.  We only owned a set of encyclopedias, some Nancy Drew books and Reader’s Digest Condensed Books.  I loved what we had and one can only re-read the same stories so many times before you crave something new!

Our library used the system mentioned here from the article …

Of all of the charging methods, the two-card system—invented around 1900 in Newark, New Jersey—is probably closest in concept to the present-day library card. It also seems to inspire the most nostalgia … In a two-card system, each book had a card attached on which checkouts were recorded, and each borrower had a separate card listing his or her selections. The practice of keeping individual book cards continued until the era of computerized checkout systems.

And, the concept of privacy was non-existent.  You could always see who had taken out a book before.  It wasn’t even something I thought of.  On the other hand, it’s not like the library carried books that anyone would be embarrassed or concerned about taking out.  My library just didn’t carry anything like that.

I hadn’t really thought out this until the article mentioned …

The library cards of today, squares of plastic with bar codes for quick scanning, have an additional advantage beyond the ease of the system: They allow for greater user privacy. When a book is checked out, the book’s information is linked to the borrower’s in the computer, but as soon as a book is returned, the system erases the link between borrower and book.

Who knows how the future will handle our access to library materials.  My most recent use of my “library card” was just a virtual use.  I input my library card number and pin to log-in, I then signed up for an e-book, I received an email of its availability, I then accessed the book via my Kindle and my transaction was done.  I honestly don’t know where my “physical” library card is.  I have not used it in years, maybe even longer!

Some related posts about library cards and systems, you might read:
+ Vintage Library Cards (The Library History Buff)

Do you still have and use a physical library card?

What is your fondest memory of your local library?

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