On Getting Carded
As I write this, I am drunk out of my mind.
Yes, I am utterly intoxicated. By the power of my library card.
It sounds a little silly, I know, but bear with me.
The last time I had a library card – the last time I physically checked a book out of a library – was in college. I’m talking at least an entire decade ago. And I can assure you, it was nothing I wanted to read. Probably that book on Barbie I skimmed for my thesis.
I don’t know what happened after college. Borrowing books from the library seemed passé. I was writing for a newspaper and my eyes were pretty much crossed by the end of the day; the last thing I wanted to do was pick up a book. CDs were purchased. Movies were viewed in the theater or, ahem, borrowed indefinitely from that special drawer in the newsroom. I also spent a lot of time in bars, drinking, smoking and being otherwise illiterate.
Then I moved to Chicago. There were infinitely more Borders than library branches – you do the math.
Something inside me shifted when I moved to the suburbs in 2008, and I got overly excited upon realizing I would have access to a great city library. That is, until I looked at my property tax bill. Technically my husband and I live outside the city limits and therefore don’t pay taxes to the library. So, it would cost $190 if I wanted to purchase a library card.
Instead, I did what any responsible (read: cheap) person would do – I volunteered my time to the library instead of spending my dollars. Every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., you can find me in the circulation department, wrapping, organizing and shelving hold materials for library patrons. Last week, after six months of service, I was presented with my very own (fine-exempt!) library card.
Frankly, I may as well have won a million dollars given all the materials now available to me. Not only can I check out books, movies, CDs and a wealth of other materials from the library that issued the card, I can also order materials from libraries all over the Chicago suburbs. There is almost nothing I can’t get my hands on (well, in terms of media … hee).
I almost didn’t know what to do when I got my card. I was at first paralyzed by the overwhelming number of options I now had, but paralysis soon gave way to a heady feeling. Happiness. Sheer joy! I was finally able to read and listen to and view every single thing I’ve ever wanted to, all without spending my life savings.
Best hangover I’ve ever had.