Out With the Old…

Today I had to get a new library card.

One would not think that would be an emotional event.

However, I have had a library card from the Redford Township District Library since I was six years old. That means I was a library patron for over 50 years.

But today, I had to relinquish my Redford Library card and get a new one for the Northville District Library, here in my new town.

I’ve been dreading this, with the dread that only a sentimental book lover could understand. I spent countless hours in the Redford Library. It was my hangout in the summers, where I gleefully participated in the summer reading programs. It was the first place I drove solo when I got my drivers license. (I know, I’m a geek.) And then when my son was little, he and I would take frequent trips to the library on our bikes, usually stopping at Donutown for libations on the way back.

So more than just bookish memories were associated with my library card, although there were certainly plenty of those too. The Redford Library was the place I discovered the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace, and Madeleine L’Engle’s work for readers of all ages. It was the place I could always find the best new releases, and, in recent years, was able to take full advantage of their computerized hold services to make sure I got them immediately.

One of the things I’ve been most surprised at during this moving process and the inevitable culling of possession it has entailed, is the things that mean the most to me. They often were not the most expensive items in the house – the crystal serving pieces or the lace tablecloths. What I really hated to part with were things like the scratched pyrex bowls I used to stir up brownie and cookie batter or the stainless steel cutlery we ate from every day for 37 years. The worn flannel blankets my grandmother used when she was in a nursing home. The throw pillows on my bed that I propped my head on to read in the morning.

The library card I’ve used ever since I learned to read.

A new home demands new things, and I have enjoyed gathering bright, shiny new feathers for this little nest. But there is suddenly a tiny whole in my heart for some of those well-used, well-loved pieces of daily living that were part of of my old life. And I suspect there always will be.

10 thoughts on “Out With the Old…

  1. Oh Becca, I fully understand this. I kept my library card from my childhood hometown for years and last I was there to visit, I went to the library and found it had expired because they have a new system. I couldn’t renew it because I have no permanent residence in the town. I was devastated. But I still held on to the card : ) I hope you make many more memories in your new library, maybe with your grandson.

    • The new library is right in the heart of our little downtown area which is very quaint and nice with lots of cute shops and restaurants (and a great indie bookshop too). I made a nice haul in my first trip there yesterday, so that helped ease my pain 🙂

  2. Becca, I hadn’t thought of my childhood library in ages but your post got me remembering…I loved that special stamp hooked on the back of the pen and the efficient way the Mission City librarian could stamp and quickly write the date due, in one deft flipping movement.
    I’m sorry you had to give up your card, something held that close to the heart for so many years deserved to be framed.

    • Well, as I replied to Jeanie, they didn’t actually make me give up the card and I can still use the library, so it’s more a symbolic loss than anything 🙂

  3. I keep thinking – a patron of the same library for fifty years? That’s just beyond my imagining. I know you’ve talked about how stable your life has been, but my goodness – this brought it home in a whole new way. I truly can’t imagine what it would be like!

    • Same library, same school system, same neighborhood grocery and drugstore too, until Rite-Aid put my local pharmacy out of business. Susie Stability, that’s me! lol

  4. I can relate. I loved my childhood library. It’s now our City Hall (East Lansing) — demolished for the new building. I can still remember where everything was. Did they actually take the card away? How sad…

    • No, they didn’t take the card away, and the nice thing is I’m in the same county library system so I can still use the Redford Library. It’s just that the actual card has to come from the city where you pay taxes. So it’s not all bad 🙂

  5. I still have the library card from when I was seven and living LITERALLY AROUND THE CORNER from the library in Georgetown, CO. (We used to hang out at John-the-hippie-librarian’s house! How times have changed.), where I borrowed the Hardy Boys books. And the one from Arvada, CO, where I worked through the entire Little House series. And then there’s the one from my local library where I almost never go because it has a weird vibe and smells like unloved nursing home inhabitants. I prefer the conversational hum of bookstore-cafes to actual libraries these days, but I could never NOT have a library card.

    • We didn’t even get library cards in Redford until about 10 years ago. They used the old sign-out cards forever, and then used a bar code scanner for a while. But there were no cards when I was little, so my “library card” was actually just a figure of speech.

      The house we lived in when I was born was literally right across the street from the library. How cool was that!! Unfortunately, we moved when I was 5, so I never got to make really good use of that convenience. Still, a bike ride away wasn’t bad.

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