Q&A: Patrons ask; librarians answer: How old do you have to be to get a library card?

It's National Library Week! Although children's librarians talk with parents, caregivers, and children all day, every day, this week is special because we take a minute to appreciate the presence of libraries in our community.

Q: How old do you have to be to get a library card?

A: Five years old, or in Kindergarten.

Chloe (age 5): [beaming at her mom] I am five!

Librarian: Great! You can get your first card today! You can fill out the registration form on paper, or online, at the computer right next to the desk or at home.

Mom: Should we do it right now?

Chloe: Yes! Let's use the computer! Can I help you type?

Mom: Sure!

[After some interruptions from little brother, Leo, who just turned 3, they have completed the form, visited the Circulation Desk to get the card, and had a discussion about whether it would be better to put the "Now I have a library card" sticker on her shirt now, so her friend could see it, or tomorrow, so her friend AND her teacher could see it. Chloe couldn't decide, so she tucked it into her new blue wallet (comes with the card) to decide later.]

Mom: What book do you want to check out on your new card?

Chloe: Do they have more Charlie & Lola books? 

Librarian: We might, let's look! ... Here's a list of all the Charlie & Lola books that you can get at Oakland Libraries. [Everyone crowds around the computer screen, while the librarian reads the titles aloud.] Which ones do you want to read? 

Chloe: I want to read Snow is my favorite! 

Librarian: Okay. That one isn't here today, but we can put a hold on it for you so you can pick it up here next week. In the meantime, let's see which ones are here today for you to take home right away.

[There are 3, but she has read one of them already, so she takes the other two. Leo gets excited about a Dora book, and a few items from the Picture Book Non-Fiction section are tossed in Mom's bag - a book about dogs and a book about creatures in the garden, along with a number of other picture books and a few beginning readers. Finally, the family comes back to the desk.]

Mom: Are there any other books about getting a library card, or libraries in general?

Librarian: There are a few, let's see... [Again, we crowd around to see the list of titles. There are a lot! They decide to look for a few of them, and we jot down the authors of the picture books and the readers. The librarian shows them the shelves where they are kept.] If you can't find any of these, come get me, and I'll help you track them down. Don't forget to come back to put a hold on that one book!


[Again the family comes back to the desk.]

Librarian: Okay, so we're going to place a hold on a Charlie & Lola book, which will get here in a week.  

[After some discussion, Chloe generously offers to check out books for her little brother on her new card.]

Librarian: That is very kind of you!  How about today, you pick out two books for yourself on your brand-new card, and Mom will check out the other books for herself and for your brother. Then in 3 weeks your books will be due. After you return them, you can check out up to 40 items, and some of them can be for your brother.

Chloe: Okay. [She shrugs.] Wait, did you say FORTY BOOKS?  [Mom & the Librarian nod YES.]

Librarian, to Leo: Your sister got a sticker today with her new library card. Would you like your own sticker?

[Leo sorts through all the stickers in the box, and picks out a Dora sticker. He immediately puts it on his shirt. The family then settles in with some coloring sheets, and Chloe happily gives the librarian any markers that have run out of ink. This is an important job that young people often help accomplish at our branch.]

Librarian: By the way...Did you know this week is National Library Week?

Mom: We did not know that! That's pretty special!

Librarian: I'm curious; What made you decide to get a library card today?

Chloe: I was talking about library things and mommy said, "Speaking of the library, I think you could get a library card now."

Librarian: I'm so glad you came in today!  See you again soon.

And speaking of library things; Did you know...

...There are about 3,500 Kindergarten-age children in Oakland who have a library card!

...Oakland Public Library issued first library cards to 6,764 children (people under age 13) in the past year!

...A total of 35,000 children (people under age 13) currently have an active Oakland Public Library card.

If you don't yet have your own library card, click here, or come talk to us. Whether you paid taxes or got a refund this year, library workers appreciate your participation in the economy, and want to reciprocate by providing you with the best service, all throughout the year.

As usual, we'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment below, or ask us your question in person, or online.


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