Meet Leah, a library card collector all the way from The Empire State! Leah likes to collect things—coins, erasers, keychains, to name a few—but one thing in particular that has us talking is her collection of library cards! We met Leah a few months ago when she emailed Ask a Librarian. Her request was simple—all she asked for was a library card to add to her collection! We were, of course, intrigued, so decided to check in with Leah about her collection and other fun things.
First things first, how many library cards do you have?
The answer for this question depends on how you count, but I’ll try my best to explain. Most libraries sent a standard size card as well as a keychain card, some libraries only sent a regular size card, and a few only sent a keychain card. Additionally, some libraries chose to send multiple card designs. Here are the numbers broken down—at this point, I have 107 standard size library cards and 96 keychain cards. I have cards from 76 different libraries.
What inspired you to start this project?
I’ve seen videos of people collecting things by asking people for them, like collecting flags by reaching out to embassies. I wanted to collect something in this way, something that I can’t collect just by buying online. And I realized that library cards would be a perfect things for this.
Where do you store them?
Currently I keep them in pouches from airplanes. I have yet to figure out a more permanent system. I do have a very good system to keep track of who I asked for a card, who answered, and which I already received. I have a very detailed spreadsheet, organized by state and alphabetized within each states section.
Have you visited a lot of libraries? Do you have a favorite?
I’ve been to many branches of the Queens Library, and I’ve been to a few in Brooklyn and NYPL, as well as one library in Las Vegas. My favorite is the Pomnok branch of Queens Library because I grew up there.
Do you collect other things or just library cards?
I actually have many collections—coins, erasers, keychains, to name a few. I also seriously collect Rubik’s cubes, but I wouldn’t count that as a collection because I don’t only collect them for the purpose of collecting, rather I also collect them for the purpose of using them.
What do you like most about libraries?
I love the atmosphere, being surrounded by books in a quiet place.
Which Pima County library card do you have?
I have a vertical one with a flower on it and it says “be creative.”
What are you reading now?
I’m currently in the middle of reading The Prime Ministers (Yehuda Avner). I also just finished reading the Legend series (Marie Lu)
Anything else you want to share?
Collecting cards has been an amazing experience. I’ve been so glad to interact with some incredible librarians, and I’ve learned so much about so many different areas around the country!!