Getting your first library card…what was it like?

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In tough economic times, parents might find it harder than ever to make sure their children have everything they need for school.  Luckily, the most important school supply of all does not cost a thing.  It’s a library card.  A library card can give kids access to free homework help, materials to research their papers or a source for their next book report.  And a library card opens up a world of exciting stories for a young person.

Do you remember the moment when you got your first library card? In celebration of September as Library Card Sign-up Month, we invite you to share your first library card experience. How old were you? How did you feel getting your card? How has it made a difference in your life?

This month, bring a friend – young or old — to the library and let them experience the joy of their first library card, too.

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17 Responses to “Getting your first library card…what was it like?”

  1. Matthew Says:

    I got my first library card out of necessity, as a high school freshman, to my memory (My family had one earlier than that, but at some point it was lost and went un-replaced).

    It wasn’t until a few years out of getting that card for a school project that I found out the many uses it served. A new library opened nearby, and I started visiting on weekends to pick up something new to read. One day I walked by a case of CD’s and was confused. No one had told me you rented CD’s! I was very happy, because I spent tons of free time listening to music. It took even longer to grasp the concept that you rented lots of movies for free, and ones that I’d actually like to see.

    The library has been a big help to me… I’ve drastically cut my entertainment spending, in terms of buying items that the library is getting every week. I just watch for my Wowbrary emails, and they tell me what the library is and isn’t going to get.

    A lot of people don’t know how much the library offers other than books… I wish it had been explained to me better when I got my card, because I had to figure it out for myself over the years. Nevertheless, people around me now know, because they’ve seen how much I bring home from the library every week.

  2. Adriana Says:

    I got my first library card in third grade from the Coral Gables library in Coral Gables, Florida. They had an excellent children’s section. My best friend and I went and got our cards together. I still have my original library card. Even though I married and changed my name, I was able to keep the card – with my third-grade-best-cursive signature on it – and use it, which I did from then until I moved out of town 27 years later.

  3. Pam Says:

    I got my first library card as a 7 year old at the Crestwood Public Library in Crestwood NY. It was yellow cardboard with a metal plate in it as I remember. I was very proud of my library card and being able to walk to the library alone. The children’s librarian, Mrs. Almy, became a great friend to me. Over the years she introduced me to The Hobbit, Madeleine L’Engle’s books, the various Shoe books (Ballet Shoes etc) and The Island of the Blue Dolphins. Her special attention meant a lot to a little girl in a very large family.

    At that time children’s books were shelved according to Girls books and Boys books. I remember as I matured, that I became very drawn to Boys books, but I was afraid to check any out. Finally I got the courage to check out Robin Hood. From then on the Boy’s book collection was open to me.

    I have used my library card monthly for 48 years. I would be lost without it.

  4. Pamela Says:

    I lived in a very small town and there were not a lot of children’s resources. The local college, which was just down the street from me,
    shared its library with the town, providing a room upstairs for the children’s library.

    It was an elegant domed building with a winding staircase. The library was the first place I was allowed to walk all by myself and check out books with my own library card. It made me feel so grown-up, and I lived for storytime and the personal attention the children’s librarian gave each of us who attended.

    Going back down the winding stairs was my favorite part. I would pretend I was a princess coming down the stairs to a ball held in my honor (books notwithstanding!). These are some of my brightest childhood memories.

  5. Alex Clark Says:

    I don’t think I had a card when I was a kid, but I went to the neighborhood library almost every afternoon after school. I mostly remember reading military history books, but I’m sure I looked at all kinds of things. In Manhattan, there was really no such thing as sports. We used to play board games on the stairs of our apartment building. The library was a place where your imagination could take off, and you could find out about all kinds of interesting things. I read about the Civil War, but it seemed no more relevant to me than other moldy old wars, like the French & Indian, or the war with Mexico. Then I moved down South, and found that the Civil War was still an open wound- if not actually still being fought!

  6. Marilyn Says:

    I got my first library card as a child, probably around the age of 7 or 8, when I could walk to the library by myself. I grew up in the 50s in a small town in Ohio, where it was safe to do that, and really no one’s parent would have thought of taking them in those days. Someone came to my school and said there was a summer reading program and you could win a certificate if you read a certain number of books. I’ve been a library patron ever since then, always participating in the summer program all the way through school and going on to become an elementary teacher. I’ve moved several times, and one of the first things I always do is visit the local library and get a card for myself and for my children. Reading and books were always on the top of the list for my children. I never censored what they read, but I certainly did what they watched on television. Both children got undergraduate degrees in English and my son went on to become a professor of medieval English. He gives me the credit (which may be undeserved) for his interest in literature. He always said, some of his best friends were books. I feel that way too, and I continue to be a library patron and participate in two book clubs. My favorite thing to do is discuss a book, and just think: they are all free at the library!

  7. Verna Goodman Says:

    I received my first library card at the Northwest Branch/LaSalle Branch of the Public Library in Charlotte, NC. I was in the third grade at Oaklawn Elem, and the school held a 100 book club reading contest for the summer. I remember walking back and forth to the library to get books to read that summer and every summer. I think at that time you could only check out 7 books at one time. This event helped me to become an avid reader today. I always have to keep a good book to read nearby. Libraries and book stores always call my name. and they present a calming effect for me. I still plan to retire as a Librarian one day.

  8. Marsha Beers Says:

    Well – if this request regarding my first library card, did not bring smiles from the past and frankly the feel of the fear I had in my heart also .. ha ha. I was probably about 5 years old and living in a small town with a tiny little library. A dear elderly lady that was the librarian and she was so helpful to us little ones.
    We had index drawers back then and cold hardly reach them so we had to ask the nice librarian for help which was always readily available to us no matter our age. Such nice memories!
    Well, I took a book out and sure enough, I didn’t take it back or at least that is what I was told! It was called The Book Under the Tree, and when my mother got the call about the fact that it was over due, she scolded me that very minute and I was so upset I set out to go up and down the street looking for that Book under the tree and I mean As Many Tree’s as I could find til dark……………..what a memory!
    It is amazing to me how litterally a little one takes things!

  9. Marilyn Morton Says:

    Hi, I’m actually a librarian in an English University who has joined this public library community after hearing Charles Brown at the Umbrella conference. I was so inspired.
    My first library card. Well that would be way back in the mid-50’s when I was just 4 years old. The librarian was not happy about allowing under 5’s access to mind-blowing literature so my mother had to prove to her that I could read before I was granted the privilege. She was very impressed that one so young could read so well I was given 3 tickets with my name and address on them. Every Saturday I would go to the library with my father and while he was in the adult section borrowing James Bond books I was choosing my next book of fairy tales.
    When I was a Girl Guide I worked for free in the library on a Saturday morning to win my Community Work badge. When I left school at 16 with 2 GCE O Levels I obtained employment with the public library service and now work in an academic library. Long Live Libraries.

  10. Wanda Hubicki Says:

    I vividly remember getting my first library card. Early in the fall of my first grade year, my teacher, Mrs. Leach, walked our class from our traditional red brick school building to our small town’s public library. I still recall the smell and sound of dried oak leaves crackling under our feet as we walked. The librarian read a book to us and explained to us how we might obtain our very own library cards, if our parents would come with us and sign for us. I was so excited! I got off the school bus that day and talked relentlessly to my mother about getting a library card. Within a couple of days, she and I traveled the sidewalks of Gaithersburg, Maryland to the public library to get our library cards. I could not quite take in the fact that there was a place that would let me borrow books! Imagine the generosity and opulence of that offering!

    I must say that my mother had always read to me before this, but this was our first excursion to the library – only one of many. She gave me a wonderful gift that has provided me countless hours of pleasure and enlightenment. Before my now-grown daughter was born, I did not wish for the coming baby to be a boy or a girl – I prayed that this child would be a reader, for I was uncertain how I might relate to a child that did not treasure reading. Happily, I was able to pass on to my daughter the gift I received from my mother and she, too, loves reading and appreciates the value of her library card!

    Supporting the library is the most positive use of my tax dollars that I can imagine. Thank you for being there!

  11. Cordelia Anderson Says:

    I got my first library card in Yorktown, VA when I was probably five or six. My Mom sent me and my Dad to the library, and while we were there, he decided to get me my own card. When the lady asked how to spell my first name, neither of us knew for sure, so we said “Cordellia.” (I have a sister named “Nicolle” with two ls, so my Dad probably figured mine was the same.)

    When we got home, my Mom couldn’t believe that neither of us could spell my name! I kept that card with my misspelled name until I went to college.

  12. Maureen Says:

    I got my first library card when I was 9 or 10. I lived in a rural area of NY state and we were served by a bookmobile. This traveling library came once every two weeks–I couldn’t wait. Reading took me to so many places and times–sometimes I would get so into a book the world around me disappeared for a time, that has led to more than one burned dish!! The first thing I did when I moved–even before changing my license–was to get a library card.

  13. Donna Sintz Says:

    My husband and I had been long-time library users before we moved to Charlotte 20 years ago. Soon after we arrived we went to Hickory Grove Libray branch to receive our library cards. We were greeted cordially and have found the librarians and staff there extraordinarily helpful. They deserve our gratitude.

  14. Mary Kane Says:

    I got my first PLCMC library card when I was 8 years old at the Sharon branch, which was then in a storefront in what is now Sharon Corners. Later, it moved to a stand-alone building on Fairview at Sharon Rd. Eventually it became Morrison Regional.

    Back in those days, they had a sort of flip file they had to go through, with each patron’s signature on their little slip in the file. Several years later, they had to ask me to re-sign one, as my handwriting had changed so much!

    Though I have moved several times within Charlotte, the local PLCMC branches have always been a source of many hours of reading pleasure. And I LOVE being able to reserve books online!

  15. Sarah Wilson Says:

    My grandmother took care of me between the age of three and five years and we would walk to the library several times a week. At the age of four in 1937, I could wirte my name so I was issued a library card of my own. I was the youngest person to have a library card for the Enigcott, New York library. My grandmother gave me my love of reading and I haven’t been without a library card since. When our new Cornelius library was built we dedicated our donation in memory of my grandmother Vola Hoadley. You can see it on the board in the library entrance. We use our beloved library all the time and read many books every week. It is such a blessing to have such a wonderful and helpful staff at our library. We love the ability to reserve a book from our home computer and receive an e-mail letting us know when it arrives. Having books available from all the county libraries makes it so much easier to find the book we want.

  16. Ms. Mary Says:

    It was the 1960’s, a time of fun and excitment for me. I was living in the Bronx, New York and attending elementary school from 1964-1969. I lived on a block call 189th Street and Washington Ave. My first library card was obtained during that period and I have been hooked ever since. I was happy in my enivornment because I did not know about proverty until I reached 11 years of age. But my best friend Betty, the one who taught me most things, just happen to take me to the library. We would visit almost everyday and it became a place for my friends and I to hang out at during summer. Reading books like Nancy Draw, Green Eggs and Ham, and picture books. My yearnings and addiction for books begun, I became a “Bookworm”. On one my visit to the library, a librarian told me I could get a library card and check out as many books as I could. That was one of the most exciting days of my life. I checked out some many books as my arm could carry. I was the most happiest child in the Bronx. I became a lover of books because it give me the insight that the world was different and you can go any place in your mind. I was forever hooked. Mo matter where I was, no matter where I lived and no matter my situation good or bad; it was always a library for me to visit. I learned computers, sewing, business planning , etc. Whatever I needed to learn the library was there for me. You see today, I am still a member of the library. I expect the library to change but it will always be in someone’s neighborhood. Pass it on!

  17. Serena Says:

    I received my first library card in 1988 in Shelby, NC. I was extremely excited and felt like a “big kid”. I had been to the library before but had never checked out anything and now I’d be able to take the books home with me. I remember checking out a ton of The Berenstain Bears books and taking them home and devouring them all in one night. I was hooked. As an adult my love for reading is still as strong as ever and I still crack open a Berenstain Bears book from time to time. 🙂

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