Thursday, August 7, 2008

Elegy for the Library Checkout Card

So, I've been using InterLibrary Loan from my school's library and using the public library a good deal. As I thumbed through a book last night, it struck me once again how much I miss the old checkout cards. I loved being able to see who had read a book before me. All the different handwritings and names made me feel connected in some way.

Granted, I also like the due date slips that are pasted into the book with the due date stamped. This way I can see how many other readers have checked out the book. I feel sorry for books with no other stamps than mine. Granted, the library might have just changed the slip, but still, that one date looks so forlorn. If I'm browsing the shelves and see that no one has checked the book out, I just might take it home so it will earn a stamp!

However, our public library uses recyclable due date cards. Each card has four dates, month and day, printed so that depending on how the card is flipped in the slot, a different due date shows up. The "save the planet" part of me loves this idea, but it doesn't let me know the history of the book, which saddens me.

I do know the reasons for pulling checkout cards, and I'm a huge fan of privacy laws, so I'm not seeking a return to the old. I'm just mourning the passing of a tradition that made me feel a part of a larger circle, I guess.

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