Graffiti artists tag railroad cars with their names or symbols. Lovestruck couples carve trees with their initials. Visitors to public restrooms scrawl on the stalls with colorful limericks. Library patrons leave their mark with…their library card number?
While moving a table by the library’s copy machine, I noticed something written with a black marker on the outside of one of our computer carrels. At the bottom of the carrel, small-yet-legible, was a 14-digit number I’d recognize anywhere: a Benbrook Public Library card number. Why would someone tag a piece of furniture with their library card number? Maybe that’s how hardcore, street tuff library users aggressively claim their turf, but I have a more likely theory. Seeing as how this particular computer carrel was originally stationed in our children’s area back before we had a separate space for teens, I’m thinking a resourceful whippersnapper lost his card, asked a staff member for his card number, and then wrote the number on the carrel so that it would conveniently be available to him (and to his friends who might have needed to use it) whenever he came in for a computer session. The age of the person to whom the card belongs supports this theory.
While seeing this minor act of vandalism made me shake my head, as we don’t condone defacing library property and advise against making your library card number publicly available, it was bemused head shaking because the vandalism was for such an innocent, practical reason. That said, we definitely don’t want our furniture, walls, and other writeable surfaces covered with library barcode numbers, so if you lose your card or forget your number, please write it down on a piece of paper or tattoo it on your arm like a considerate person. Better yet, let our circulation staff know that you lost your card and they’ll give you a brand new one, complete with a handy keychain version, for just a dollar.