Evolution of BPLD’s Library Cards (Part 1)

Since we switched to a Computerized Integrated Library System in 1982, our loyal patrons have been using library cards to check out books.  To complement our “Show us your Library Card” campaign that we’re promoting currently, I thought it would be fun to present to you the evolution of our library cards since that time.  No library cards were harmed during this presentation.

  • Pre-1982? – 2000

“The original”

One of the great mysteries of the library, no one really knows when this card was first distributed but some of our senior librarians have claimed that this card was here before our Dynix ILS, which we switched to in 1987.  Our previous ILS was a system in collaboration with the Anaheim Public Library and this went as far back as 1982.  So pick a year, any year between 1982 and 1987 and we’ll call that the beginning.

This practical card has no nonsense about it: title at the top, our lovely library below, barcode, and our address.  Many patrons still carry this card today.  Though it isn’t laminated and therefore quite thin (and some patrons end up carrying just a stub of it, hey, I would too, it’s a classic!), they still work.  However, there is one flaw.

If you flip the card over and check the conditions of borrowing, you’ll notice one little thing that I felt the liberty to show.  And I circled it in bright red just to make sure that you don’t miss it.

Yes, you’re seeing that correctly.  “We purge our flies annually” has been something that we’ve been trying to hide for years but with the permission of our director, we decided that we could finally reveal it to the world.

The whole back story behind this is that when we were making an order of this card from our print vendor back in the day, it was sent to us via fax (yeah, I was shocked too in learning that fax machines were around in the 1980s).  Many employees took a look and proofed it.  But the “l” and the “i” in “flies” looked the same, especially in a faxed copy that was not so clear as they are today.  Needless to say, it went unnoticed.  But when someone pointed out the flaw, we immediately ordered a new print of the card with revised wording (hey, we’re an educational institution!) and put the defunct version in the back room, something never to be spoken about again.  But due to budgetary constraints, we actually had to dip into our old supply of these “mutant” cards and distribute them to the public.  Though some patrons did notice, no one really made a big deal.  Moral of the story: don’t trust fax machines built in the 1980s!

The revised version is shown below:

We simplified the conditions of borrowing, deleting the first sentence, adding “Library Card” to the title, and of course “flies” has been replaced with “files.”

  • 2000 – 2005

“The picture card”


I’ve always had a soft spot for this card.  It’s the card I received when I turned 18.  It contains a very nice picture of the library along with the front wall that’s cleverly placed (in real life and on the library card, it’s a win-win!).  Many of the employees here also like it the best and the picture was taken by a former employee of ours, Doug.

And check out the back.  It’s been simplified with the name, address, phone number, and barcode number. Like I said, win-win.

  • 2004 – 2007

“The Sonia card”

This card is properly named because one our former employees, Sonia, designed it.  This begins the era of our more durable, thicker plastic cards giving it a nice glossy look.  Many of us really enjoyed this card.  Sadly, it’s actually quite rare to see someone with it because of its short lifespan.

The back of the card continued with the simple format but with bigger font for the information.  Ooohh.

  • 2007 – Present

“The blue card”

And this takes us to the card that we use today.  This was designed by another one of our former employees, Vince.  He was actually studying to be a graphic designer and you can see that in the card’s abstract design.   Also worth noting is that our web address has changed to www.buenaparklibrary.org.  Hey, it’s easier to type than the old one.

Perhaps you’re wondering why this is titled part 1.  Well, stay tuned for part 2, the evolution of our juvenile library cards.

What’s your favorite?

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One response to “Evolution of BPLD’s Library Cards (Part 1)

  1. I actually just had a dream about writing about the evolution of a library card and the library experience. So after writing down all I could remember about my dream and my actual experience, I found your site and appreciate you showing the evolution of your library cards!

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