Libraries are straight magic. They are the most utopian thing America has to offer. In a world where we are all trying so hard to hawk our content and everyone wants to nickel and dime you for everything, the library just sits there – a content superstore where everything is free. Once you take the step of getting a library card, you don’t even ever have to go back in! These days, even the most funding-challenged and rural library systems have full libraries of online content like e-books, audiobooks, magazines and movies downloadable right to your device of choice. In fact, if your local library sucks, you can usually buy a library membership from any city you want for around $50 per year – although it is really unlikely that you will want to once you find out all the things your local library offers online.
The problem for young people today is that, even the most progressive library systems still want to see your ID and make sure you are one of the people that qualify for the free stuff. If you have a drivers license showing an address, or in many cases, a light bill or water bill in your name, you qualify. You can make the process less painful by preparing ahead of time. By the end of this blog you’ll just have to walk into the library, hand over all of your pre-prepared information, and you can walk right back out if you don’t want to grab a giant pile of books and CDs and movies and in some libraries even things like sewing machines and bicycles. Seriously. I checked out a SKELETON from my library one time for a science fair project. A SKELETON.
As a lifelong library user, I’m often surprised that most people do not interact regularly with their local library system. For the most part, people that love saving money just never think of it. My local library system has all the new release books. movies and even TV Series DVD’s of current Netflix and HBO shows for free. It can be scary to ask for help. Millenials and Gen Z are pretty open about being socially awkward, and they’d much rather google how to do something than as a librarian. I am not here to judge. I’m here to help. (Cue theme music and waving cape).
The first thing one needs to do if they would like to borrow a book from the library is to have a library card. These are free, and you can usually get one by visiting your local library branch. Don’t panic! To prove how easy this is, I chose a random small town off of a map: Ridgecrest, California. Do a quick web search for your local library. Here’s mine:
In my case, I’m choosing the first result. The results page had the correct website at the top of the page. So now, here I am at the library’s website. I see no place that says “Click here for library card” so I’ve located the search function and searched for what I need:
Before you click through to the library form application, take a look at all the things this small town library offers. I see thirty things right off the top – not even including what they might have in the building. Databases for students, Quizlet for college students and AP tests, movies, newspapers, databases, music, etc. This is an incredible value at the cost of ZERO.
Back to the subject. I’ve searched for Library Card, but the website has searched within the book catalog instead of the website itself. It’s ok. Look above the search results were it says “Get a Library Card” – and click that. If your local website hasn’t returned what you’re looking for, keep looking for search boxes or “contact us” and you’ll find a link to the library card application form.
When I click “Get a Library Card” it automatically takes me to the county library website’s library card application. Print the form out, and fill it out. If you don’t have a printer, that’s ok. The forms are available at the library, and if you have to go in and get one, that’s ok. Bring the documentation that proves that you qualify for the library card, and you will be able to choose from many empty tables with comfortable chairs, where you can sit down and fill out the form. Most libraries even have quiet study rooms where you can be certain no one will try to make small talk. It’s blissful.
Once you’ve filled the form out and collected the appropriate ID, it’s time to go to the library. Remember, I promised the least contact possible. By preparing the application and resident information ahead of time, all you have to do is walk into the library, head to the librarian’s desk, and lay your application down on the desk. The librarian will get you a library card in just a few minutes. You now never have to see or talk to anyone at a library again. Download the app, and read read read!