I received a notice that September was Library Card Sign Up Month and it reminded me of my early library adventures. My dad took us almost every Saturday to the downtown branch of the Colorado Springs public library. If he was feeling the love, he’d also let us play on the big orange slippery lump a few blocks away. I lived a full life back then.
But this particular branch had the children’s section upstairs so I always headed up there. With my new library card I was allowed to check out five books at a time, which I always finished by the end of the week. My selections leaned heavily toward Nancy Drew mysteries, and everything written by Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume.
One day, however, when backs were turned, I snuck downstairs and found secret delights everywhere. A cornucopia! A treasure trove! A buttload of good reading!
After several stealthy Saturday visits, I finally screwed up the courage to pluck one of these adult treasures off the shelf. I shoved it in the middle of my four children’s titles and hurried to the check-out desk.
Sweat trickled the length of my spine. My hands shook as the librarian took the Nancy Drew mystery on top and opened it. I wiped a sweaty palm as she inked her rubber stamp, rocking it back and forth for optimum inky coverage, then smacked it — hard — on the white slip glued inside the cover.
I trembled as she set it aside and picked up the next Nancy Drew. Down went the rubber stamper with a wet smack.
Uh oh. The forbidden book was next. Are you there, God? It’s me, Becky. I licked my lips and glanced at the glass doors. It was simply a matter of time before burly security guards rushed through, weapons drawn, shoving me against a wall yelling, “Hold it right there, Missy! This book is not from the children’s section! That’s a clear violation of Public Library Code 82-954/29B. Take her away, boys, lest she ever make a mockery of the library again!”
Smack, smack, smack.
“See you next week. Enjoy your books,” the librarian chirped.
What?! I did it? I got away with it? Oh, how I relished that book. It emboldened me and I did the same thing the next week and the next. It wasn’t long before I snuck two books from the adult section in between a Nancy Drew and a Beverly Cleary. And I got away with THAT too!
O frabjous day.
It solidified a life-long love of libraries that I’ve passed along to my kids. My only requirement for them to receive their library cards was the ability to sign their names neatly.
Yes, I had ulterior motives. In the same way I told them they had to be potty-trained to go play at their friends’ houses. Because everyone knows all the toys at our house sucked, it took them about eight seconds to gain control over their bodily urges. I’m a very practical mom.
They practiced writing their names until they were issued their very own library cards, long before they were anywhere near school age. They were proud and delighted with their newfound status. I remember one of them rushing home from school to inform me that several kids in their class didn’t even have a library card! They were as incredulous as if they discovered some parents didn’t allow their children to eat breakfast.
So, don’t let overzealous readers like my kids pity your poor, deprived non-library-card kids. Get them a library card. They’re free, they’re portable, and they open minds.
And let ‘em check out what they want. They’ll think they’re getting away with something.
When did you get your first library card? Do you have any good library adventures you’d like to share?