Orange County Library System – Card Expiration

I just received an e-mail from the Orange County Library System informing me that my library card is about to expire and explaining how I can prevent it’s imminent death.

To say I was surprised would be an understatement. I had no idea these things expired, like your drivers license or old meat and fruit. I’ve had an Orange County library card, off and on, for 26 years. It was one of the first things, along with registering to vote, that I did when I moved here. I would estimate I’ve had this one for 7 or 8 years straight now and this is the first I’ve heard of a need to renew it.

OCLS says the reason is; “Library cards expire so that we have the opportunity to review your card and make sure all contact information is correct and that the account is in good standing.”

Somehow, that just doesn’t ring quite true.

1. They have my record in their database and can review it at their leisure or necessity, as the case may be. They certainly don’t need to renew my card to review my record. Hell, under the poorly-named Patriot Act, the federal government can demand to see my library records anytime they want without a warrant. Please don’t try and tell me the library itself can’t “review my card” anytime they please.

2. If contact information is incorrect, they’ll find out either when they attempt to call, e-mail or deliver a book. Service will stop and the patron will either update it to retain service or not because they don’t want it.

3. Same as number 1. Plus, they see if your account is in “good standing” every time you borrow materials. I know, I’ve watched them do it.

So, what is the REAL reason for this renewal?


I’m aggravated that I have to take the time to either call or go online to renew this library card. I love going to the library, I love checking out books, DVD’s, etc. I love that Orange County provides this service to its residents. I love that over the years the library has added materials and services (like free delivery) to what they offer. But this is pretty ridiculous and to try and pass off the reasons above is insulting to me.

So, I ask again, what is the REAL reason for this renewal?

Frankly, since I’m traveling so much now and not able to use it except for the infrequent times I’m home, I’m sorely tempted to avoid the aggravation and simply let the damn thing “die.” But this is one of the things my taxes pay for and I see no good reason why a library card, of all things, should expire. It’s certainly not like a drivers license that requires a certain level of competence to use or a professional license that is regulated by an agency. It’s just a library card!

After a quick Google search, it’s obvious to me I’m spitting into the wind. It appears most public libraries have cards that expire at the 1 or 2 year mark, though some wisely only expire after a certain time period of non-use. That’s the most sensible, but apparently NOT the one employed by most county library systems, course of action. Non-use means expiration. Continued use means all their co-called “reasons” above are met.

How did this happen? I’ve had public library cards since I was about 8 years old and, while admittedly my memory is fading at times, I don’t ever remember having to renew a library card in any of the locales I’ve lived in over the years. Is it because of 9/11? Is it because of…? I can’t even think of a plausible reason! Whatever the reason, it’s aggravating and totally unnecessary. As people who know me will tell you, I don’t suffer such things in my life lightly. This may well be the “expiration” of the Orange County Library System in my life.


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