Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How to get a library card

I know that the thought of getting a library card is almost overwhelming to most people. I too would be profoundly intimidated by it if I didn't actually live in a library. But using my empathy, along with my deep knowledge of library processes and culture, I am here to guide you through this difficult life passage.

Let us begin with:

1. Do you need a library card?

Why go through the exacting and painful procedure of library card acquisition if you don't even need a library card? Please answer the following questions:

     A. Do you have 50 million dollars and a squeamishness about the hoi polloi?

     B. Can you read?

If you answered yes to A. I suggest using Amazon et al for your library related needs, but it would be nice if you dashed off a check for a hundred thousand dollars to your local Friends of the Library just to show you're not a small person.

If you answered no to B. I am wondering...  how?

Other than these, yes, you need a library card. Why? A properly used library card has an estimated annual retail value of $473.89. And yet it costs nothing. Nothing! You are willing to drive across town to save eleven cents on a can of artichoke hearts. You are willing to virtually enslave third world workers for a t-shirt that costs a dollar less. Get the library card.

2. The equipment you need to bring to get your library card.

Don't panic. I am going to break down the required equipment into its most basic elements. You need bring with you merely the few items on this small, very clear list, and you are almost home free.

     A. Pants or skirt or dress or shorts. Any one of these will do. But, and here perhaps is the tricky part, you need to be wearing them.

     B. A top. See above. Men can if necessary omit item B., but that seems unfair.

Please note that I have yet to see a library with the posted sign: "No shoes, no shirt, no service."

     C. Picture I.D. The rules on this one are loose. You are not entering a foreign country. A seven year old High School I.D. will work. A group picture of your recreational softball team with the players labeled will work. A driver's license will work. A good tattoo of yourself will probably work, but it must include your full name.

Please note that if your picture I.D. includes your current address you are done here. Done. That is all you need! If you are going "Damn, I missed it. I just have the softball team thing", do not yet despair. You need only come up with one more item.

     D. A verification of your current address. Yes, this will have to be on some kind of paper. It will have your name and the address of where you sleep at least most nights. That's all we mean! Do you get mail? Bring a piece of mail. No mail? Send yourself a postcard. Write "Dear Self, I sure wish I had a library card! Love, me." Bring it in with your pants and stuff and we're almost done here.

Yes. We are talking about just four items. If you are homeless it can be a bit dodgy, and we can discuss that elsewhere. If there is no human way for you to get mail take any discarded piece of mail from anywhere, write your name and address on a bit of paper, and glue it over whatever name and address was on there. Worried about the ethics on that? Is it your real address? Then we are done. Good enough. No questions asked.

3. You have all the stuff. Now what?

You are almost home free.

     A. Go to whatever service desk you see in the library. Say "I would like a library card." Answer their questions and give them the stuff they ask for. You have fulfilled your responsibilities and now they must come through. They will.

If you are panicking about these "questions"  let me reassure you the questions are not like:

          1. When was Tolstoy's first novel published?
          2. Who won the Nobel Prize in 1962?
          3. Can you generally describe what is meant by "Symbolist Poetry"?  Please include five notable symbolist poets in your explanation?

No. The questions you are likely to be asked include things like the following:

          1. What is your birth date?
          2. What is your phone number?
          3. How are you doing today?

Please note that it is okay to say "Fine." to question three even if it is not true.

4. Sign your library card. That's it.

You mean, that's it?

Yep. You will have a library card to do with as you will. That's it.


  1. I've always heard that libraries are a front for the Illuminati and that the library cards are their means of tracking individuals.

    1. How embarrassing to find that for all these years I have been naught but a tool of the Illuminati!


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