Brand new library cards made their debut at the library this month. They feature a color photo of one of our stained glass windows and come in two sizes — wallet and key tag. They scan under a light beam and transmit all kinds of information to our computers. They get you onto the public internet terminals. They allow access to online databases to help you find a long-lost ancestor or to learn to speak Mandarin.
Seeing the new cards prompted me to pull out the collection of vintage McPherson Public Library cards that I’ve acquired from various people over the years: typed pieces of cardboard, dating from the 1940′s; slightly sturdier cardboard dating from the 1960′s with metal strips to identify the patron; squares of plain white plastic dating from the 1970′s and ’80′s; and rectangles of multi-colored plastic with barcodes dating from the 1990′s.
What amazes me is that people treasured those pieces of cardboard and plastic so much that they kept them safe and secure for over 50 years! It says something to me about the value these people placed on being a library patron and the privilege of owning a library card. And it’s good to know that in a world of fleeting values and transient loyalties, a library card still symbolizes something of enduring value. Whether your card is very old or brand new, it still means the same thing it has for over 100 years at our library — that there is something quite wonderful on our shelves just waiting for you!