I was at the local library this week, needing a few books for research purposes. Hadn’t been there much during the winter and wasn’t aware of the new policies. I was used to just being able to say my card number(well, really, used to not having to do anything at all because the circulation librarian knew me…from a long time…and knew my number). The new circulation librarian informed me that I couldn’t do that anymore. When I gave her my well worn cardboard library card, she tut-tutted and said, “wow, that IS a relic, you can’t use this one anymore.” She allowed me to take the books home that I had chosen and said that next time I came, I could pick up my new card.
That card and I go back a long way. In those “olden” days, we found books by means of the Dewey card catalog. In school we learned the rudiments of it, alphabetical order and different ways to look up a book. I do believe my having done that is what enables me today to search so successfully online. I often have people ask me to find something and when I do(and quite quickly too), they are always asking, “how do you do that? You always find it!”
All of the books had cards in the back and the name of the person checking it out plus the date were written/stamped in a small space. You could always tell if you’d taken that book out before…(or someone you knew).
There were library tables and chairs(heavy, old wooden ones) where you would go and do research for school/homework(plus also meet friends). “Silence” signs all over the place plus if you were making noise(like hysterical laughter when your friend passed you a funny note), the librarian would come over and tell you to leave.
If you had a late book, the librarian would call you on the phone(land line at that time). And when you brought your book back and paid your fine, she would reprimand you.
The librarian back then was a formidable presence. Tall, thin, hair in a tight bun, glasses, sensible shoes, heavy stockings and modest clothing. She seldom smiled but when she did(if she liked you…she didn’t like me), you could see a whole different/softer side of her. She’d been a war bride(World War Two), her husband had died young and they never had children. She lived alone in an apartment with her parakeet.
One of the ways she would show you in no uncertain terms that she was ruler of the library was the placement of the “objectionable” books…in her eyes anyway. Any books that were in that category were on the top shelf and you would need to use the stepladder to access them. She would hear the ladder being moved and when you’d bring the book(s) to be checked out, she would study you with narrowed eyes. I remember deciding I would give her a shock to her system(as well as making her wonder about my “moral character”) and got as many out as I was allowed to at the time. Maybe I didn’t exactly enjoy reading all of them but I have a low tolerance for people judging books at “taboo” or “not appropriate”…it’s all a matter of opinion. My daughter has become the same way…she had a t-shirt in college that read, “I read banned books”.
Well, I have my new library card. Looks a lot like my check card made of plastic with an electronic strip. Not much character there. I still like the look and history of my old one.
til next time…Eva