In Honor of Library Card Sign-up Month, Staff Reminisce About Earliest Library Cards

September is Library Card Sign-up Month, and the Kansas City Public Library is celebrating and hopefully inspiring by having staff rifle through their wallets and closets to find the earliest library cards they own. 

With the old library cards come fond stories and memories. Have you gotten a Kansas City Public Library Card yet? It’s easy and free. Learn more here.

Kelsey Bates, Teen Librarian, Plaza Branch:
Kelsey Bates

My first library card was from the Lawrence Public Library!  I have cried in their parking lot because I forgot my card and was convinced I couldn't check out any books (at a much younger age, I promise).

Erica Voell, Collection Development Librarian, Central Library:
Erica Voell

I don’t have my first library card. My family was cleaning out my grandparents’ house several years ago and we came across my grandmother’s card from Milwaukee Public Library from the 1950s, my grandfather’s card from the New York Public Library, my mother’s card from Plainfield, New Jersey, and my great-grandmother’s card from Hays, Kansas. The card from Hays is exactly like my first library card with the metal plate. I still remember the old plunk of the card stamper. I find it interesting that the card from the late 1950s in Plainfield, New Jersey, is the same technology as the card from Hays in the early 1980s.

Diana Ash, Sr. Library Technical Assistant, North-East Branch:
Diana Ash

This is my prehistoric card - still in its original sleeve. I am estimating it was issued around 1965 from the Grundy County Jewett Norris Library in Trenton, Missouri. I was about 9 at the time. I know I visited the library many times prior to that, but I must have used my mom's card. I positively remember going to the library before I started kindergarten. I had two aunts who were school teachers and neither of them had children of their own. Teaching me to read was a priority for them. I remember walking with them to the library many summer afternoons when I was little and having to stop to rest along the way (maybe from having so many books to carry!). I also attended the first half of my kindergarten year at that library, since the new elementary school was not completed on time. Each summer there was a summer reading program. I think you only had to read 10 books. When school started, there would be an assembly and the names of the children who completed the summer reading challenge would be called to go up on the stage and receive a certificate and a pencil. I still have most of those certificates, too! Trenton is a small town and, in the 60's, my main source of transportation was a pony named Sparkles. I would frequently ride to the library and tie him to the handrail long enough to run in and drop off or pick out new books. I have countless memories of the Library in Trenton, too many to tell here!

Logan Heggemann, Development Associate:
Logan Heggemann

The library where I lived had just built a new branch, and at the young age of 5, my mother decided it was finally time to take us to the library. I was so excited to finally get my own library card, but much less excited that the pen I was signing my card with stopped working halfway through. My botched (and now very faded) signature constantly reminds me of the crushing defeat I had at the hand of a faulty pen.

Megan Garrett, Manager of Ruiz and Westport branches:
Megan Garrett

My mom didn't let me have my own library card, but instead had me use hers. My family moved to Blue Springs when I was 6. My older sister stayed in Arkansas and, the first time I visited her and we went to the library, I came to the desk with a pile of books and my sister asked, “Is she allowed to check out this many books?"

Julia Oglesby, Plaza Youth Services Manager:
Julia Oglesby

When I was a little girl, I lived across the street from the Gere Branch of the Lincoln (Nebraska) City Libraries. Even when we moved across town, we kept going to that branch. This isn’t my first card with them – that one was a pink card with my name typed on it. My family’s rule was that I could check out as much as I wanted but I had to fill out the card by myself.

Dave LaCrone, Digital Branch Manager:
Dave LaCrone

I got my Chicago Public Library card in 1996 at a tiny storefront branch on West Chicago Avenue which is no longer there. A few years later I moved to Iowa and got a card at the terrific Iowa City Public Library. I used it exclusively to checkout CDs from their great music collection.

Buddy Hanson, Various library roles:
Buddy Hanson

WANTED: Stubborn teenage bookworm was spotted prowling the nerd section of the Schaumburg Township District Library. If you identify this individual, please provide him with immediate directions to the nearest emergency barber shop/hair stylist. Thank you.

Laura McCallister, Digital Content Specialist:
Laura McCallister

I can’t remember the exact age I at which got my first library card, but I know I was young enough that I could only write my first name on it and my mom had to help me out by writing my last name. Of the Lincoln (Nebraska) City Library locations, the one I would go to the most was the Bethany Branch. Beyond checking out books there, I remember planting flowers outside it with my 4-H group. Former Lincoln mayor, Nebraska governor, and U.S. secretary of agriculture Mike Johanns had even come to whatever the event was because we have a picture with him outside the library.

Share your earliest library card pictures and memories with us on social media! Use the hashtag #EarliestLibraryCard and #LibraryCardSignUp. We’re @KCLibrary on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.