How To Get A Library Card While On The Road
Is it possible to get a library card while RVing? Yes and no. Libraries fall under the care of different jurisdictions in different states. Some will be maintained by counties, some by cities, and some by a cross-section of both.
Usually, the more the governing entity wants to make a library a money-making proposition, the more fees, charges, and restrictions you will face in getting a library card. Be aware that it is NOT your local librarian that has instituted or desires all these barriers. Most librarians want everyone and anyone to be able to check out a book and read.
Getting a library card in another area
To see if you can get a card, you will have to contact the specific library where you want to go. There is no central database that list the requirements for a card for every library. Note that you will usually need to reside in the state and have a permanent address within that state to get a library card. At some libraries, you can get a card even if you are out of state if you pay a fee—and that fee can be a little hefty.
Sometimes paying a small out-of-state fee for a library card is worth it. One library in Georgia will let you pay $12.50 for an annual card. In exchange, if you rent a video about zoos, the library will give you a free family pass to the local zoo. That is worth the $12.50!
Depending on where you are, libraries have very strange things available to check out, like power tools! Paying for an out-of-state library card may be cheaper to get something you want in return, and you can still check out books while you are there. Just don’t forget to return them!
Free ways to get books while traveling
There are a couple of options for getting books to read for free. You might try littlefreelibrary.org, the world’s largest book-sharing movement (this was recommended to me by a librarian). For a digital reading opportunity, you can try Kindle with Amazon. You can check books in and out for free as a Prime member.
Other library activities
There are a lot of library features outside of checking out books that you can usually still participate in without a card. If a library is doing a children’s show or activity, you can just show up and register your children to participate; this is a great educational feature for families.
If you need access to a computer, you may be able to leave your ID and log-in to research or print items. Libraries also have meeting and conference rooms that may just require a sign-in sheet. Keep in mind that a lot of the items won’t require you to show a card for items you will not be removing from the library or need to return.
That also includes reading or watching materials on-site. If you have a favorite magazine subscription you can’t get anymore, or you want to read the next book in a series, just visit your library and find a quiet comfortable place to curl up and read. Don’t forget daily local papers and more may be available!
Have you heard of the Words with Friends app? The two men who started it met every week in the Audelia Road Library in Texas. They didn’t have funds to rent out a space to chat and talk about their app ideas. But they asked a librarian if they could use one of the meeting rooms. They met there regularly enough they completed the app and launched it successfully. The app developers came back and made a nice donation to the library for helping them get off the ground.
Do you know the comedian, Jeff Dunham? He checked out a ventriloquist book when he was a boy. The book helped him teach himself ventriloquism. He never returned the book. When he returned to do a show in Dallas, he sent a $10,000 payment to “pay his fine” for the library book that started him on his career.
There are stories after stories from librarians on those they have helped along the way. So, if you really need a read, talk to your librarian. Take the time to share your situation, be patient, and there will be solutions. They can probably come up with a way for you to get your read on.
One of the best parts about RVing is engaging with the community of traveling enthusiasts. iRV2 forums allow folks to chat with other RVers online, and get other perspectives on everything RVing, including products, destinations, RV mods, and much more.