Hola, library patrons! Have you ever dreamed of traveling into the past? Well, that’s possible in a way, though only virtually. Did you know you can see a list of the items you have checked out from Salina Public Library, even from several years ago? It’s easy and quick, and might even stir a few fond memories of stories or movies you enjoyed back in 2015. So, if you’re wondering whether or not you checked out Sue Grafton’s final mystery, Y is for Yesterday, when it was published in 2017, you can do a scant bit of research to answer that question. Of course, we can’t tell you whether or not you actually read the books, just whether you checked them out!

A note: Many library patrons enjoy checking out items from Hoopla or through the Sunflower eLibrary. They can read or listen on their own devices, a phone or Kindle, for instance. However, those items won’t show up in your history.

Your time machine is the library’s website. Simply log in using your card number and PIN at https://salinapubliclibrary.org/, then look on the left side of the screen under My Account, where you should see Reading History. Click on the link and Voila! you will see a list of all items you have previously checked out, as well as the items currently on your account. Perhaps like me, you’ll uncover some surprises . . . 

My own Reading History includes over 1750 items, dating back to September 2009. I’ve had a library card since moving to Salina in 2000, but I cannot go back that far. Your mileage may vary, too. This is probably due to various updates of the KOHA system the library uses for the catalog and checkouts. 

The earliest item in my history? Kansas Outdoor Treasures, by Julie Cirlincuina (Kansas Outdoor Treasures), which describes great places to hike, fish, camp, and enjoy the Kansas outdoors. Another from 2009 was written by Kansan Rolf Potts: Marco Polo Didn’t Go There (Marco Polo Didn’t Go There) and is also about travel, but on a global scale. Although I probably just browsed the former, I’m sure I read Potts’ book because I enjoy travel essays similar to his. However, I have recently put it back on my to-read list because honestly, I don’t remember a single detail! My memory clearly doesn’t travel back in time as fluidly as the SPL website does!

Through the years, I have checked out many travel books. Some of them include Tourist Trains Guidebook (Tourist Trains Guidebook); Potts’ newest title, The Vagabond’s Way: 366 Meditations on Wanderlust, Discovery, and the Art of Travel (The Vagabond’s Way)–which I enjoyed enough that I purchased a copy for myself; and Ben McGrath’s Riverman: An American Odyssey (Riverman: An American Odyssey). The library also has an excellent selection of books by Rick Steves and Lonely Planet and others if you’re looking for information about specific destinations, as I did a few years ago when I traveled to Thailand. 

Riding my bicycle around town is one of my favorite ways to exercise and commute to work at SPL, so Two Wheels Good: The History and Mystery of the Bicycle by Jody Rosen (Two Wheels Good), David M. Goodrich’s A Hole in the Wind: A Climate Scientist’s Bicycle Journey Across the United States (A Hole in the Wind), and the fascinating and funny Gironimo! Riding the Very Terrible 1914 Tour of Italy (Gironimo!) by Tim Moore were easy choices to pull from the shelves. By the way, as he pedaled across the country, David Goodrich noted that Kansas was the most challenging state for him because of the constant, inescapable wind! I’m sure that will surprise no one who lives here. 

No surprises yet in my virtual time-traveling jaunt. It’s no secret that I like to travel and I like to ride, after all. Let me explore a little more in-depth to see what items I can find that don’t fit my usual interests. What? Beginner’s Latin? (Beginner’s Latin)  That’s a surprise from September 2010. If I used it at all, I’ve certainly forgotten all I might have learned. Another surprise is Daniel Swift’s Bomber County (Bomber County), which rings no bells whatsoever from 2020. Based on the catalog’s description, it combines the World War II bombing campaign and . . . poetry! I’ve long been interested in both of those topics, so I’m placing it on Hold to check out again. I wonder if reading it will spur any memories of a possible previous time. 

For several years, I commuted to work, so listening to audiobooks on CD was a wonderful way to pass the miles. Looking back at my checkouts, I see that I listened to a lot of fiction, which is a genre I generally don’t read much. I had never thought about it, but apparently when I choose stories for traveling, I prefer the imaginative, the made-up, but when I hold a book in my hands, I’m much more likely to be exploring history, travel, photography, or other nonfiction subjects. That’s one insight I hadn’t expected, but it makes sense to me. When driving, I pay less attention to what I’m listening to, so playing CDs with exciting suspense is more likely to keep me interested. That was certainly nothing I would have noticed about myself without looking back at my history.

Browsing casually through my list, I see many DVDs from the library’s excellent selection, though I prefer reading to watching. I’ve also checked out a fair number of music CDs. When I hear of an artist whose music I might like, having the option of checking out a CD is one way to explore more of that performer’s music. I guess I’m sort of old school in that way because most people would simply ask Alexa or Siri to play that person’s music! One of my favorites was recommended to me by a coworker. It’s definitely an acquired taste, but I like Pablo Carcamo’s Magical Flutes from the Andes: Aconcagua (Magical Flutes). By the way, I couldn’t recall the exact title or Carcamo’s name, so searching my history came in handy.

Finally, one of my favorite services the library offers is providing access to various series of books that would be too expensive to buy. If you have heard of Symphony in the Flint Hills, you might be aware of the Field Journals that are published each year. These journals combine history, poetry, visual arts, and essays, all centered on a topic related to Kansas. The 2023 Journal (Symphony Field Journal) is focused on transportation. For a history buff and native Kansan like myself, these are true treasures. My Reading History shows that I’ve checked out several, and I’m glad there are still more to explore.

I’m sure a little further digging might reveal more insights, but I’ll stop here because I’m sure you are now champing at the bit to go do a little exploring yourself!