Remember the first time you got your very own library card? I must have been in kindergarten or first grade, and I recall thinking I was so grown up when the librarian handed it to me. I grabbed the end, but she held onto it until I looked up into her eyes. “This is your card,” she intoned with a raised eyebrow. “Don’t lose it.”
When I only had to worry about one card, it was really not a problem. But once kids came into the picture with their own cards and books, tracking all their library stuff has become my own personal nightmare. One family, five different accounts.
Getting ready for a trip to the library was like planning a military mission. We’d gather up all the books we could find and then go online to see if they were due (or overdue). We would search for our missing library cards, trying to remember the last place we saw them. Then we’d move the whole mess of books, cards, and kids into the van, and I’d secretly wonder if transitioning to e-books wouldn’t be easier. We’d return what seemed like millions of books, only to find out later that this one was tucked under the bed and that one was left at school. Sigh.
Oh, I tried different systems of organization to stave off the craziness. We used a specific bookshelf only for library books. We tried stacking them on desks with the library cards on top. We put them in drawers set aside just for the purpose of keeping the books and cards together. I tried backpacks (which were not big enough), totes, and crates. I made special little card holders on lanyards. Nothing worked to keep the books and the library cards together in the same place.
Finally, I couldn’t take the panic of the missing library cards nor the excuses for the overdue books any more. I was done taking 45 minutes to prep for a “quick” trip to the library. Enter… the book bags.
I had some heavy-duty red and blue cotton canvas in my fabric stash along with some sturdy plaid material. I did use a pattern (Simplicity 2806) that I got at JoAnn’s when they were on sale for $1, but really, you wouldn’t need it. It’s a pretty simple shape — just cut a front and back out of the canvas and then cut two more from the plaid to serve as a liner. Sew ’em up and you’ve got yourself a durable book bag that can really hold up under the weight of all those books the kids check out.
But here’s my trick to keeping those library cards in line: I included a secret pocket inside the bag.
I sewed this little pocket with its buttoned flap onto the liner before I put the whole bag together. It’s on the inside of the bag because, on the very likely chance that they miss the pocket in their rush to put their card away, it will drop into the bag where we might have a chance to find it.
The library cards now live in these pockets full-time, surfacing only at the self-checkout before being tucked back away. It’s made my life infinitely easier, and the kids don’t panic about where their cards and books could be when we head out to the library.
Of course, I only made these book bags for the kids. I’ve been using one of those cheapie recycled bags that I got for free on Earth Day to haul all of my own library books. Today, I noticed this on the bottom corner:
Time to break out the sewing machine.