Do you remember the old American Express commercials? The tag line was "American Express: Don't leave home without it."
Well, my paraphrase of that has always been: "My library card: I never leave home without it." And that's the truth. I got my first library card when I was five years old (although, at that point, it wasn't an actual card; just an entry in the library's records that I was allowed to check out books. By the time I was six or seven, they'd gone to a card that looked very much like a credit card and was run through a machine like credit cards used to be, before they could be swiped electronically. Each book also had a card, and you got a separate receipt for each book you checked out.
Then we moved, and again for a few years, the library kept the card instead of the individual patron, and I kind of felt like I was missing something. Now, of course, library cards have barcodes, at least where I live, as do books, and in some places you get to check them out yourself, at a self-serve machine, without having to even talk to a library clerk.
I actually have two library cards. Of course, there's my public library card, which gets lots of use. But I also keep a Community Borrower Card at the university library at the school where I graduated with my BA. It costs me $25 per year to maintain, but that seems like little enough to pay for access to that very good collection of books, which specializes in books about religion (its a private Christian school, run by the Mennonite Brethren) but has a nice general collection as well. I mean, how many Christian university libraries do you know that keep up a subscription to The Skeptical Inquirer?
Soon, I hope to have a third library card. If I can find the money, I'm also going to get a Community Borrower Card for the local branch of the California State University's library. It costs more than the one I already have, but as far as I'm concerned, you can never have access to too many books.
So, when did you get your first library card? Do you have more than one? And if you don't have one at all, why not?