"My library was the first number I ever memorized. Before my social security card number. Before my school ID. Before my cell phone number.
When I learned to ride a bike and had permission from my parents to go outside of our street, the North Side Library in Columbus, Ohio was the first place I rode to by myself. It’s where learned how to make Christmas presents — because I would go to the library, borrow the CDs, come home, copy the CDs, and make mix CDs for my friends — wrap them up and it’s a gift.
And it was the first place where I volunteered.
I grew up in the same house, less than a mile away from the same library for the first 17 years of my life.
But once I graduated and moved out of the house — in a span of ten years, I had lived in almost ten different places.
So I got really good at packing all of my life into seven boxes in record time and shipping them and myself all over the country, and at moments, all over the world.
Whenever I moved to a new place, I always had a routine. I’m Buddhist so I would always find my Buddhist community, find my coffee shop or ice cream place, and get a library card. If I had a library card, it meant I was local. Even if I didn’t FEEL like a local yet.
I got a library card when I moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky — to study photojournalism.
When I moved to Findlay, Ohio for a summer to make documentary films.
When I lived in Minneapolis, MN to sit in the dugout of the Twins baseball team and shoot photos of them next to AP photographers for the local paper.
I got a library card when I lived in Portland, Maine where I learned how to make lobster on my stove and how to dress for winters that bury you. And where I made my podcast Millennial from the closet of my apartment, between being a stock runner at LL Bean in the 4 a.m. mornings and a waitress, during cocktail hours at night.
I got a library card when I moved to Brooklyn, New York to make a dent in the podcast industry and to learn from the major players in the public radio league.
I got a library card when I moved, on a whim, to Highland Park Los Angeles, in 2019, as the first full-time hire in the podcast department of the local NPR station."
Megan Tan is an award-winning podcast host and producer. She is the creator and host of the critically-acclaimed show Millennial. Her stories have been featured on This American Life and NPR’s All Things Considered. She was a founding podcast employee of the local NPR station LAist where she launched Snooze, WILD, and California Love (Season I).