Library Cards and Inherited Books

When I was a child, I visited my town library quite a bit – at least once a week, sometimes more.  I have always been a book lover, and discovering new books was one of the joys of my childhood.

Libraries back then used cards to record who had checked out the book.  When I found a new book, I could see who had read it before me, or if I had already read it and had just forgotten.  Because it was a small town, the same names kept popping up, people who shared my same interests.  Seeing their names created a virtual community.  At first, it was only other students a few years older than me; I remember when I started seeing the names of some people a couple of grades behind me.  It was both nice to see others with my interests, but also annoying to see that “some kid” had beaten me to the book.

I like used books for the same reason, especially used books in which previous owners have written their names.  While at a training event for InterVarsity last month, at our National Service Center in Madison, WI, I had the opportunity to pick up some used books that people the NSC no longer wanted.  Two of them, I found, had belonged to Pete Hammond, a gentleman I had the good fortune to have lunch with shortly before he retired.  I feel privileged to carry on the community of these books.

In a related note, recently published a story about original editions of Shakespeare’s First Folio, which have been catalogued and tracked for hundreds of years.  Samuel Johnson apparently dribbled food on his copy.

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