I would like to announce that I have memorized my library card number. It is only shallowly memorized; I could not recite it without a pause or type it without a number pad. But I am getting there. Victory.
I still have the number from my childhood card memorized, for I had truly and completely internalized it. 29075010876189, if you are curious.
How many hours did I spend in that little library on Juan Tabo? Too many to count. Browsing book by book through the juvenile paperback section. Searching for sequels on the fancy new computer catalogs with their black screens and blocky green letters (I am of an age where I had to learn how to use a card catalog in school but have never actually used one). Methodically checking out every book available by a new favorite author. Daring to wander the aisles of the adult side of the library. Listening to the whirring clunk sound of the self-checkout machines. Triumphantly collecting every. single. summer reading prize available by reading more books each week than most of the children read all year.
I was so proud to be able to do all of that myself. Mom would go off to the adult side of the library looking for her books and my siblings and I would scavenge the youth/children's side. We'd claim our cards from her wallet and place books on hold all by ourselves, on our own personal accounts, on those creaky old computers. Eventually, I didn't even need the card--that awesome power, the Library Hold, was available to me based only on information I had memorized in my own head. Oh, I felt like a Professional Reader, my friends. I was the Best Library Patron Ever.
Now I almost never spend more than two minutes inside my local library branch. I log in online, request books on my reading list, and stop by to pick them up when I get the email that says they've arrived.
Admittedly, the entire building for the library in my neighborhood, including the bathrooms and the ginormous conference room, is barely half the size of the library we frequented in Albuquerque. There's not much there to browse, and it's always crowded with, well, children, who I would like to think are as excited about the World of Books as I was but who really are arguing loudly over computer time and blocked websites and listening to music with the volume turned up so high I can hear it despite the giant padded headphones they're all wearing.
But here I am again, twenty-five years old and just as excited that I've memorized my library card number. I'm just as excited about that World of Books, that world of entertainment and knowledge and Story that once again stands open before me, unlocked by this information in my head.