Friday, February 26, 2010

My Library Card

Since moving to South Carolina,I have been several places - but I hadn't yet made it to the library. I seriously cannot remember the last time I had a library card, but it had been a number of years and honestly, I was looking forward to it.

In my mind, I remembered the library cards of the past. When I was in elementary school, the library was in the basement of the courthouse. It wasn't a very big library, but I do remember how it smelled. My library card at that time was kept at the library, in a small metal "recipe box" along with everyone elise's. When I checked out a book, the name of the book was written on my card and the date stamped both on my card and on the flap on the back cover of the book itself.

Later on as an adult, I got to have my own library card in my possession. Perhaps because I was more responsible. Perhaps. In any event, the same type of system was used. I handed my card to the librarian and she put my individual number on the card from the book along with the stamped date. I believe she kept that card from the book.

But this week when I went to the library to get a card, it was an entirely different system.






As you can see, my library card is now a plastic card with my personal ID barcode and the little card fits onto my keychain. When I want to check out a book, I find it, take it to a self-check station, scan my barcoded card, lay the book (with it's own little barcode) onto the gray pad and viola, it prints out a little slip of paper with my name on it and the book's return date. And I'm outta there.

This kind of distressed me a little bit. I mean, there is virtually no personal contact at all. I can find the books I want (they still alphabetize them by authors) and I know how to scan etc. I could literally walk in and out of the library without as much as a "how do you do".

The good news? This library is very old. It SMELLS like a library. The floors creak. The stairs to the second floor squeak. The hand rail feels well worn. It is still very quiet, even with the many computer keyboards clicking away.

It is still a comfort place to be. All is not lost. Even though I carry my library card on the end of my keychain, the mystery and ambience of the library remains.

All is well.

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