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Posts Tagged ‘Library Cards’

The most powerful card in the world!

by Maeve Clark on September 2nd, 2016

I’ve had a library card since I was a wee one.  I grew up in Tipton, Iowa and spent hours and hours at the library. My mom was on the library board so I think I even got to go to the library when it was closed.  I can still conjure up the large red leatherette piece of furniture in the children’s section of the library where I was often sprawled reading Dr. Seuss books over and over and over again. library card When I was old enough to read nonfiction books I really started to use my library card.  There was the whole world to explore and those nonfiction books and the World Book Encyclopedia made me an expert on everything, or so I thought.  We had books at home and at school and there was the annual Scholastic paperback book order, but the library had more books, and books for everyone and I had a card, a passport to everywhere.

September marks the American Library Association’s Library Card Sign-Up Month when the Iowa City Public Library and other libraries across the nation encourage everyone to get a library card or to renew a card that has expired.  Libraries want people to use their services and at the core of our services are the books and other materials we lend.  This past April, the Atlantic Monthly, published Is the Library Card Dying? a piece by Sara Polsky that helped me understand that while a library card acted as a passport for me, it served an entirely different function for a library.

“Public libraries, funded by municipal rather than member dollars, began appearing in the northeastern U.S. in the early to mid-19th century. Cards were essential at these libraries, too. The card was the “arbiter of all disputes” when it came to missing books, wrote the St. Louis librarian Frederick M. Crunden, “and since we have had this respected referee there have been but few contested cases.”

Borrower requirements varied by library, and so did the types of library cards issued. At the St. Louis public library, adults received white cards and minors blue ones, and cardholders had to identify themselves as residents, taxpayers, students, or local employees. The cards for minors came with a warning that “only books suitable for young people will be issued on this card.” Adults were allowed second cards, but were not allowed to use them to take out novels. Teachers and members of the clergy could have three cards, with the third for professional use.

Late returns and card losses carried penalties. A St. Louis library user who lost a card circa 1900 had to “pay fivepence and wait a week for another,” Crunden explained. The dual penalty was meant to send cardholders searching harder for their lost cards, but the fine and the waiting period targeted different library users: “Most men will not much mind the fivepence,” Crunden theorized, “but if they find they also have to wait a week, they bethink them that perhaps they can find the card, and they go home and do so. Women and children, on the other hand, are generally willing to wait the week; but when it comes to the fivepence, they conclude it will be cheaper to make further search for the card.” (Crunden’s gender essentialism came with a heavy dose of moralizing. “Rules,” he wrote, “should be so framed and so applied as to make careless people pay the cost of their carelessness.”)

vintage_library_cardLibrary cards are different now and patron confidentiality is respected and enforced. However, when I was little and the Tipton Public Library’s collection wasn’t computerized, each book had a pocket and in each pocket was a card with the name of the person who had borrowed the book before.  I was fascinated with who else wanted the book that I was about to borrow.  Why did my neighbor down the street want to read about dog breeds and why did my teacher’s husband  have an interest in the Easter Islands.  Those days are long gone and it would take a court order to find out who had which book checked out (Iowa Code sections 22.2 and 22.7(13)).  Now if you are interested in who has read a book you liked, Goodreads will help, but you will just have to speculate on who in Iowa City might have also opened the pages of a book you just finished.

If you are reading this post, you are probably already a library card holder, library_card_icplbut I bet you have friends or neighbors who might not realize that a card is free and waiting for everyone at the Iowa City Public Library.    And if you’d like to see an enormous collection of library cards of all types, retired librarian Larry Nix keeps a fascinating website.

New eMail Reminders from ICPL

by Kara Logsden on November 30th, 2015

At the Iowa City Public Library we’re always looking for ways to improve services for our patrons. Beginning soon, we will begin eMailing “Enhanced Notices” to help our patrons with their Library Card accounts. The eMails will come from the eMail address “”

Notices include:

*It’s Time to Renew your ICPL Library Card: Library Cards routinely expire, if you wonder why please check out this BLOG post. We will send a courtesy reminder to everyone in our service area (Iowa City, rural Johnson County, University Heights, Hills and Lone Tree) when their Library Card is about to expire.

*Don’t Lose That Hold: A reminder a hold will be pulled from the Holds Shelf in two days.

*You are Approaching the Fine Limit: A reminder that fines are approaching $10. Most card privileges are suspended when fines exceed $10.

*The Coolest Card in Town: A reminder for patrons who applied online for a Library Card but didn’t stop by the Library to pick-up their card.

Here’s a sample of what the eMail looks like for Library Accounts that will expire:

2015 11 23 Coolest Card

Greetings from the Iowa City Public Library

This is a routine check of the contact information in your Library account.

The account belonging to PATRON NAME will expire in seven days. An expired account means you cannot check out or renew materials, place holds or download digital materials.

To renew your account, you may

  • Visit the Help Desk at the Library -OR-
  • Call 319-356-5200 during regular Library hours -OR-
  • Reply to this eMail message. If eMailing, please indicate if there are changes to your account information below or if it is all correct.

Please note:

  • Your library card will not change–please keep your card.
  • Staff respond to eMails during regular Library hours and will follow up with you within seven days.

Thank you for using the Iowa City Public Library.

Cardholder Name
Iowa City, IA 52240

Library Cards: • eCollections:
123 S. Linn St. Iowa City, IA 52240 • 319-356-5200 •
Monday-Thursday 10-9 • Friday 10-8 • Saturday 10-6 • Sunday 12-5

The Library Card: A Ticket to Adventure

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on September 3rd, 2015

I was sitting at my desk Monday when I received a phone call from the Help Desk.

This postcard shows an image of the Fort Dodge Public Library I remember. The Carnegie building closed on November 30, 2000. The new library opened in by the City Square in January 2001.

This postcard shows an image of the Fort Dodge Public Library I remember. The Carnegie building closed on November 30, 2000. The new library opened in January 2001.

“There’s someone here to see you.”

I didn’t have an appointment scheduled, but drop-ins aren’t uncommon, so I grabbed a notebook and pen, and walked to the Library’s first floor.

“There you are!”

It was my parents. They live on the other side of the state, but ever since my dad retired, surprise visits have become a common thing. They don’t last long — my parents left after I gave them a tour of the Library — but they make me smile. (Then I text my siblings to let them know that our parents are on the road again and to be prepared.)

I love giving tours of the Library, be it to people I’m related to or visitors who stop by because they’ve heard great things about ICPL. From the slide in the Children’s Room to the Koza Family Teen Center on the second floor, the Art-To-Go collection and an amazing selection of graphic novels, the Library is a wonderful place that truly has something for everybody.

Author Lilian Jackson Braun says “a library card is the start of a lifelong adventure.” As we celebrate Library Card Sign-up Month, I think back to the adventures I’ve had because of my Library Card. They begin, of course, with the stories I’ve read, but entwined are memories of biking to the Library with friends and that huge feeling of maturity when my mom decided I was old enough to hold on to my Library Card instead of giving it to her for safekeeping.

My very first Library Card was from the Fort Dodge Public Library. It was about the size of a business card, made from heavy beige paper, with a silver bar threaded through it. The card came with a tiny manila-type envelope for safekeeping. I felt so grown up every time I used it. I thought it was amazing that with just this card, I could take home any book I wanted for free.

I still think it’s amazing.

As I led my parents around ICPL, my mom joked that they had to stop by to see if I was actually working. I was always a reader, so it’s safe to assume I would spend my days at a Library and call it my job.

“It’s the perfect job for you, kid,” my dad said as they left to visit one of my younger sisters.

It’s not only a job, it’s an adventure. It’s a Library.

ICPL at ICCSD Elementary Schools Ice Cream Social Night

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on August 18th, 2015

The Iowa City Public Library will be present at several Iowa City School District elementary school ice cream socials from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20.

Staff members will attend the back-to-school ice cream socials at Alexander, Hills, Hoover, Horn, Lemme, Lincoln, Longfellow, Lucas, Mann, Shimek, Twain, Weber, and Grant Wood elementary schools to help students and their families apply for a Library Card. Applicants can complete an application at the event and a Library Card will be mailed to their home address.library-card-300x199

“Our attendance at the elementary schools’ ice cream socials is to ensure that all students are prepared for the new school year with their own Library Card,” said Kara Logsden, ICPL’s Coordinator of Community and Access Services. “We understand that families are especially busy this time of year, so we are happy to do what we can to make the Library Card application process easier.”

People also can apply for a card online at or in person at the first floor Help Desk any time the Library is open.

For more information, contact the Library at (319) 356-5200.

Community IDs and Library Cards

by Kara Logsden on July 11th, 2015

Community IDThe Johnson County Auditor’s Office will begin accepting applications for Community ID cards Friday July 17 at 1:00 PM.

UPDATE 7/14/15: Here’s a link to the online application for the new Community ID Cards.

We are excited about the program and hope this will encourage members of our community to use their Community ID card to get at Library Card.

It’s easy to get a Library Card and only takes a couple minutes. The online application is available at It works great to sign-up online at home or you can complete an online application at the Library at any of the catalog terminals.

Once you’ve registered online, stop by the Help Desk to pick up your Library Card.

Adults and students in 7th grade and older should be prepared to show photo identification and proof of your residence address. A Community ID card or Driver’s License fulfils the requirement for both if the current address is listed. Other documents that work for proof of address include a lease, voter registration card, mail with a current post mark or pre-printed checks from a bank.

Students in 6th grade or younger should be accompanied by a parent or guardian who will be asked to show a photo ID and proof of current address.

Three Cheers for the new Community ID program and everyone who made this possible! We look forward to seeing these ID cards at the Library.


by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on May 8th, 2014

Summer-Library-BusAn Iowa City Public Library card is your child’s ticket to ride an Iowa City Transit bus free this summer.

The Library will provide free bus rides to children through 12th grade, and the adult caregivers who are with them, on any Iowa City Transit bus route, from the day after Iowa City Schools dismiss until the day before school starts, on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Eligible bus riders should show their Iowa City Public Library card to the bus driver to gain free access to the bus.

Children can catch a ride home anytime the same day with a Ride & Read bus pass, issued by showing a Library Card at any public service desk at the Library.

Parents, if your child doesn’t have an Iowa City Public Library card, visit for information about how to apply for a card. Applications can be completed online, then stop by the Help Desk within two weeks to pick up your card. You can also apply in person at the Help Desk any time the Library is open. Adults, please be prepared to show photo identification (current driver’s license, lease or passport) and proof of your resident address (current driver’s license, mail with a current post mark; current lease). Photo identification is not required for children.

For more information, please call the Library at (319) 356-5200.