I Am Now a Card-Carrying Member of the Brooklyn Public Library

I fought it as long as I could, which might seem strange considering that in order to fulfill the purpose of this blog I need to ensure that I always have a book waiting to be read on my nightstand. However, the shameful truth is that for the last year since I picked up and moved to Brooklyn, I have had plenty of books of my own to read: birthday presents, Christmas presents, and more than a few spur-of-the-moment purchases.

But there came a time, dear readers, when my stockpile was beginning to run dry. Faced with the headache-inducing small print of two mass media paperbacks of Ayn Rand’s most well-known works, I decided it was time. A little too gleefully, I filled out an online request to have my brand new library card mailed to me.

Take that, I thought as I smugly gazed upon the books around my room, carefully avoiding eye contact with Rand’s prose. I have conquered you all, and now the rest of the literary world shall be at my fingertips.

It sounded less evil in my head.

I only had to wait a few days for my card to arrive (Insider’s Tip: it can take up to a month if you want to get a card mailed from the New York Public Library; score 1 for Brooklyn’s apparently less popular system), and five blocks later I was standing before the hallowed halls of Brooklyn’s central branch.

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Walking into a library for the first time with an unused card is one of life’s unexpected joys, in my opinion. I did find that Brooklyn Central had a few quirks, though, such as the librarians’ choice to place Tolstoy’s War and Peace on the New Fiction shelf with a big NEW sticker on its unassuming spine. Good news for all the classicists out there: Tolstoy’s hip again.

Another quirk? Patrons can take out up to 99 items on one card. Now maybe the suburbs of Philadelphia are a bit backwards, but when I was growing up, I was only allowed to borrow 10-15 books at a time. Fewer if a majority were hardcovers or new releases.

There is, however, a downside to this gloriously high limit of 99 items:

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At least people are reading, right?

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “I Am Now a Card-Carrying Member of the Brooklyn Public Library

  1. What on earth would you need 99 books for? That’s ridiculous (and selfish). My limit was 10. I found that was perfectly sufficient as it allowed me time to return some early and hunt for replacements, whilst working through the remaining. Thus ensuring there was rarely a gap in my reading time.

    • I agree – I don’t know where I would even find a place to put 99 books in my apartment, however temporarily. Though, I do wonder if it’s a strategy the library system uses to get more money on fines through overdue books. If I actually checked 99 out, it would be pretty hard to keep track of which books are due when.

      • I was thinking the concern would be for the library (books never coming back, and probably sold for cash on the internet). I never even considered the possibility of it being a con for the borrower! I feel so sorry for those who do fall into that trap, and end up in debt to the library.

      • It seems to me a lose-lose situation; the borrower (though, of course, s/he has borrowed the books voluntarily) must deal with fines that stack up over time, and the library must deal with many nearly empty shelves. I’d hope that borrowers wouldn’t be silly enough to try to sell library books, though, since they’d just have to pay back the full price of the book to the library somewhere down the line or deal with being hounded by a collection agency.

        In any case, I, like you, am perfectly happy with just taking out a handful of books at a time!

      • Do you think they would actually send collection agents? I don’t think they’ve ever done that over here. They tend to send a few letters, I think, but that’s about it. I know universities are really strict on it though. They go on about restricting access to libraries, and withholding your degree paperwork so you don’t officially graduate until you payback any debts.

      • It’s actually becoming a lot more common here in the States because libraries are having a tough time getting people to pay up. Usually the library system sets a limit for how many fines/fees you can accrue before they contact a collection agency; in the Brooklyn library system, it’s $25.00.

      • That makes sense, really. I’ve not borrowed a book for a long time as I either sit in the library, or can find them cheap enough to buy online. I moan that libraries and bookshops are closing, but I rarely seem to use them. I just remember using them loads when I was in my teens – they were my sanctuary. So it kind of feels like other kids that are like the way I was might not have that refuge… it’s so sad.

  2. And let’s hope they are reading them, not disappearing with them.

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