Posted in Get Connected

Have You Ever

I recently filled my shopping cart with delicious stuff both on and off my grocery list before methodically unloading all million and a half items onto the conveyor belt. I’m a bit obsessive, but I like to put like items together like its my job. Dairy. Veggies. Science Fiction. Inspirational. Young Adult. Meat. Fruit.

The lovely cashier patiently scanned each item, while a delightful youth carefully nestled my items into bags for safe transportation home.

Then came the moment of reckoning. The one we all dread. And the one I gracelessly accomplished on a very cold and windy day when I least wanted to go back out into the subzero temps.

I didn’t have my debit card. I checked my keychain, my coat pocket, and my bag. Nothing. I checked my memory and realized it was in my other bag. The one in the closet two miles away. I didn’t ask, but I’m fairly certain the cashier would not have given me my groceries had I simply rattled off my debit card number by heart. Even though she knew me quite well and trusts me.

Fortunately, I had a back up in my truck. After a very shame-faced admission that I had failed the one job that a shopper has–that important contract of exchanging goods for dollars–I sprinted to my vehicle and returned quickly enough that I didn’t inconvenience another shopper.

Unfortunately, it’s not the only time I’ve ever been unprepared. Those stray dollars I thought were in my wallet? That photo ID that was *right there*? Or the insurance card at the doctor’s office, or the license and registration sitting on the kitchen counter–not the glovebox?

Or, that pesky library card that seems like it should hardly matter at all, but actually serves a purpose? I have done it all. And, if you are anything like me, this next section is for you.

What does your library card do, and why do you need to physically bring it into the library with you?

Your Plum Creek Library Card is actually proof of your contract with the library to take responsibility for the materials you check out. It says, “I will return these materials in good condition so that others may enjoy them.”

Your card also protects you from charges or fees that you did not incur. By providing your library card at the time of check out, it ensures that you–not someone else–is checking out the materials. If you lose or misplace your library card, you should immediately let your librarian know so they can get you a new card. When this happens, the old library card will no longer work and nobody can find it and check out items under your account. This equates to rock solid protection for you.

Your physical library card makes our job much easier and eliminates costly mistakes. While it is true that we can look up your account with a valid photo ID on occasion, doing so takes time. It is also imperfect, as there are a surprising number of individuals in PCLS that share the same name. Having your physical card in hand means your checkouts will definitely go on your account. Not the other PatronX. Or conversely, it means PatronX can’t accidentally check out under your account and rack up huge fines.

Most importantly, it is policy. Just like actually paying for groceries with real money before taking them home.

Enforcing policy is hard on the person doing the enforcing. Nobody wants to make you run into the blowy cold or rain. Nobody delights in asking you to trek back home to the other bag in the closet so you can complete your grocery store transaction. Nobody likes giving a ticket because you forgot to put your tabs on your vehicle. Certainly Nobody wants to kick you off the plane because you forgot your ID (not me). And Nobody would have to do any of those things if we simply remembered our check books, library cards, driver’s licenses, and passports.

While librarians get that sometimes life is hard and it’s easy to forget some things now and again, we would like the above story to serve as a reminder that using your physical card to check out materials is required. Every time. Even though we know you. And trust you. And maybe even invited you to our birthday parties.

It makes the whole experience better for all involved. And, it’s policy. And because even worse than asking you to run back into the cold to grab your library card, would be holding you accountable for materials on your account that you didn’t actually check out.

If you don’t know where your library card is, you can purchase a replacement card at the library for $1.00 through the month of February. After that, replacement cards will once again be $3.00.

If you don’t have a library card at all, your first one is free. They come in a set of two for maximum convenience. One fits nicely on your key chain or back pack, while the other is wallet sized. The perks of being a library user in the Plum Creek Library System are outstanding. Stop in with a current photo ID to get your library card and shop our shelves for your next great read. We have science fiction, inspirational, westerns and a whole lot more!

may your weekend be filled with remembering the little things~ jody


Meinders Community Library is a combined school and public library that serves the residents of Pipestone County in Southwestern Minnesota. It is part of the Plum Creek Library System.