Purchased Library Cards


Welcome to the third of four related posts about library cards and access to libraries!

In this collection of posts, we’re discussing Home, Reciprocal, and Purchased library cards; then wrapping-up by exploring libraries-without-cards.
I hope you’re enjoying these posts, and that they give you ideas for expanding your access to books!


In the previous two posts in this series, we discussed Home, then Reciprocal, libraries.
They’re available here:
And here:


Why would you purchase library cards?
I can’t answer that for you. What I will do is explain some of the reasons why I purchased the cards I have, and I hope that may get you thinking about the potential Purchased cards could unlock for you.

In short, my answer is; more and better access to books, and access to resources I may not have without a particular library card.

My Purchased Library Cards

I have three Purchased library cards:

  • Multnomah County Library (Portland, OR is in Multnomah County)
  • Greater Victoria Public Library (Victoria, BC, Canada)
  • University of Washington Libraries


In the “Why” section of my previous post (on Reciprocal library cards), I mentioned a handful of reasons for having Reciprocal cards, including these two points:

  • It often lets me get a book quicker.
  • It gives me access to books that aren’t in my Home library system.

These points also apply to Purchased library cards.
What treasures might await you with a card from a new-to-you library?


Any library card is about more than books.
You also get access to resources.
The Multnomah County Library is in a different state than I live in, and the Greater Victoria Public Library is in a different country than I live in.
(That said, both libraries are only a few hours away by transit; a single bus and ferry boat can get me to Victoria, and Portland is just an Amtrak ride away.)

Imagine having access to resources unique to other states (MCL) or other countries (GVPL).

Multnomah County Library

Once upon a time, MCL was my Home library.
My Beloved and I lived in Portland for six years. My longing for living on an island overwhelmed me, and she indulged me; so we moved to Bainbridge Island, where we still live.
(I grew-up on islands, and we’d lived on an island before coming to Portland.)

So, I had an MCL card from our time in Portland, and I wanted to keep using it. However, I felt it was wrong for me to keep using the card since I was no longer a resident and taxpayer in Multnomah County.
The solution? Purchase a card from MCL. The details for an out-of-service-area card are in the “Full-use library cards for a fee” section of this page:
(MCL was nice enough to let me keep the card and card number that I already had.)

The MCL website has a collection of “Research tools and resources,” here:
These tools and resources include some that are Oregon-specific, which helps me stay in touch with my old home.

And thanks to my MCL card, I’ve read the intriguing novel “Court of Venom,” which wasn’t available at any of my other libraries.

Greater Victoria Public Library

Given how close I live to Victoria, I think of it as part of my neighborhood (and it’s simply a delightful place; if you haven’t visited there yet, I recommend it).

The “Visitors and Non-Residents” section of GVPL’s “Get a Library Card” page have the details needed for acquiring a card with them:

Once you have a GVPL card, you may use their “Magazines & Newspapers” resources, here:
This includes “Canadian Newsstream” (“Articles from more than 300 Canadian newspapers from the last 10 to 20 years”), and “Proquest Digital Times Colonist” (“Back issues of the Times Colonist from 2011 to three months ago”).

If you’re not familiar with the Times Colonist, Wikipedia notes that “The Times Colonist is an English-language daily newspaper in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.”
So, access to the “Proquest Digital Times Colonist” archives would give you a perspective on Victoria, over the past dozen years.

Your GVPL card would also give you access to the “Learning, Research & Tools” here:
These include “BC Laws” (“Current laws of the province of British Columbia”), and “BC Stats” (“Statistics from the province of British Columbia”). If you’re curious about BC, then these tools could be a great help to you.

A Final Thought for MCL and GVPL

For me, both Portland and Victoria are part of my neighborhood, and they anchor it as my southern and northern points, respectively. I’ll admit to you that in-addition to the benefits noted above, I’ve a deeply-felt resonance by having cards for their library systems. I include this personal detail, as there is an emotional quality to libraries; they add to our lives, set us free, and connect us. In-short; while I can give you logical reasons for getting these cards, I also admit that having these cards and walking through the libraries in these systems simply fills me with joy and peace.

What might you gain, for both your head and your heart, by Purchasing one or more library cards?

University of Washington Libraries

A co-worker named Jeremy mentioned the UW Libraries to me.
He told me that he’d gotten a card for them because he loved to learn, and whenever he was curious about something, he could do a deep-dive into the subject, thanks to the UW Libraries.

Like many universities, the UW Libraries have subject-specific libraries within their system.
UWL includes libraries that focus on Art, Business, Drama, East Asia, Engineering, Health Sciences, Mathematics, and Music.
Are one or more of these subjects precious to you? Could a UWL card (or a card for your local university) help you enrich your mind and soul?

You may be thinking, “OK, Library Girl, I’m interested in a university library card, but I don’t go to a university.”
That may not be an issue.
You don’t have to attend the University of Washington to get a UWL card.
This page shows the various ways that people may obtain a UWL card:

You could simply “Purchase a UW Libraries Borrower’s Card” or you could join the UW Alumni Association (UWAA).

I chose to join the UW Alumni Association, to get access to the UW Libraries.
This is a very important point; I didn’t go to UW.
For many universities, you may join their Alumni Association without ever having been a student there.

Why did I join the Alumni Association, instead of simply purchasing a card?
Two reasons:

  • First, I was able to join the Alumni Association as a lifetime member, which means I paid once for the membership. (If I’d simply Purchased the library card, I would have had to pay to renew the card every year, instead of paying just once.)
  • Second, the Alumni Association gave me the library card I wanted, and a host of other privileges.

This page lists the names and hours of all the libraries in the UW system, and more importantly to our discussion, it includes links to each library, so that you may explore them online:

And this “Journey through the UW Libraries: A Self-guided Tour” is a beautiful and informative walkthrough of the UW Libraries:
(As you can see from this virtual tour, the Suzzallo Library Reading Room is stunning to look-at online. However, it’s also breathtaking in-person. I feel awe and peace when I visit it; a truly spiritual experience.)

I hope I’ve stirred your interest and imagination for what a university library card may add to your life; and I wish you a joyful adventure in exploring your local university’s library system!

Brooklyn Public Library

Before we wrap-up with the Purchased library cards part of our discussion, I’d like to give a shout-out to a library that I don’t (yet) have a card for; the Brooklyn Public Library.

Earlier this year, BPL announced their “Books Unbanned” initiative.
One of the components of this initiative is giving free electronic library cards to anyone between the ages of 13-21.
(If you’re over 21, then you may Purchase a BPL card for $50/year.)

Here’s the details from BPL’s site about their electronic cards (eCards):

“For immediate access to ebooks, audiobooks, and online databases, feel free to apply for an eCard.
Out of State Residents may apply for a membership (via this application) to BPL’s extensive selection of digital books and online databases. There is an annual, non-refundable $50 fee for out-of-state cardholders. Please be patient with us as we are experiencing high demand for this service. For a limited time, teen applicants ages 13-21 can request a free BPL eCard by sending an email request to booksunbanned@bklynlibrary.org.”

And here’s some details about the “Books Unbanned” initiative, including URLs to BPL’s site, a news article, and a tweet from BPL:

Next Up

In the fourth (and final) post in our set, we’ll discuss libraries-without-cards.
You may use some of these already, or perhaps there’s one (or more) of them around that you haven’t discovered, yet.
I’ll share some examples of these from my own life, in the next post.

Until then, you may investigate all the library systems that I have cards for, here:

And I suggest you explore what libraries near you may offer Purchased cards, as well as checking-out the libraries that you’ve dreamt of having cards for.

Library Girl

https://library-girl.com and https://twitter.com/librarygirl/

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PPS: Just before we part, I’d like to note that these blog posts are only half of what I do as Library Girl. The other half is on Twitter. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you may still visit my twitter page and see what I’m up-to, here:
If you are on Twitter, please join the bookish conversation with me.
Thank you.

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