The First Library Card

Girl holding library books
“Daddy, I want a library card.”

“Sorry, Cassie, you’re too young.”

“I’m six.”

“I know. But I’m pretty sure they don’t give cards to kids your age.”

“Lucy has one.”

“Are you sure it’s not her mom’s?”

“Come on! The librarian’s right there. Let’s ask!”

I’m thrilled to report that my daughter was right. With a few short steps I was at the checkout desk. To my surprise and delight, the city of New York allows children of any age to have their own card. That’s right, any age. It says so on the website.

Children ages 0-11 must have their application completed and signed by a parent or guardian.

baby reading a bookWhich means if your 18-month-old wants his own copy of Goodnight Moon, he can have it. All you have to do is fill out a simple form with your name and address and show some ID, anything from a driver’s license to an old tax bill will do—they aren’t picky. I imagine the same rules apply in other locales.

In any case, I grabbed a pen and did Cassie’s paperwork. Then came the fun part. The librarian cleared her throat, “OK, now it’s your daughter’s turn.” Surprised, I looked to the bottom of the page. Indeed, there it was: a line where the child had to affirm that he or she would take good care of library materials. My daughter proudly picked up a pen and signed.

girl with her own library cardMoments later, Cassie used her very own library card to take out a book. Best of all, was the empowered smile on her face later that evening when she showed the card to my wife. One of Cassie’s favorite destinations has always been the local Barnes & Noble. Now I’m hoping she’ll switch over to the Bloomingdale Branch of the NYPL on 100th Street. There are tons of books on any subject and guess what? You can borrow them for free!

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