In which I attempt to renew my library card and discover eBooks instead

At some point in my childhood, I accumulated about $4 in fines on my library card. The next time I went to the library, I used my dad’s card and didn’t pay the fines.

Fast forward a few years. I basically haven’t touched my library card in ages. But I’m off to college in a week (a week exactly – yikes!) and I really have to man up and use my library card again.

So I log in to the NYPL website using my account. Lo and behold, all fines gone! Ok, I say to myself, let’s request some books. But when I attempt it, the Library informs me that I am not allowed to place hold requests, and gives me a couple of reasons why that might be the case. Have I exceeded 15 holds on my card? No, I have not. Is my card expired? Well, according to the website, it expires next July. So no. At a loss, I figure maybe because I haven’t used it in a while I need to renew it anyway, and after worrying about the fact that I STILL have no state issued ID (long story) I grab my school ID (will it be a problem that I’ve graduated and don’t have my Columbia ID yet?) and a piece of mail to prove that I do actually live in this city and head to the library.

Of course it transpires that it’s a simple matter of my card being a juvenile card, and therefore not allowed to check anything out from the adult section. I suppose they also had the wrong birthdate or age in the records, because when I handed the guy my card and he swiped it he said in a very confused voice “This is your card? You’re definitely older than that.”

But he fixed it, and I’ve been happily requesting books since then.

About the eBooks. Well, it turns out, as I discovered while trying to place holds on about a million books, that the library has “electronic resources” for some of them. I’m a curious person, so I clicked. What that means is that they either have an audiobook version or an eBook version available for download.

Let me tell you about library eBooks. They’re brilliant. I’ve always maintained that I prefer to have a physical book, and I do, but the advantages to eBooks from the library is NO WAIT. You can check it out from your computer and download it immediately, whereas with a regular hold it could be weeks – or months – before you get the book. The disadvantage is that it operates like a physical copy: if the library has one eBook copy and someone else has downloaded it, you can’t. It’s very sad.

But all in all, a great addition to the library. Provided, of course, they don’t get rid of all the actual books. When I read too many books on a screen I get a headache.

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