One little card.
With it I can:
- Borrow free e-books without an expensive “membership”. You can do this while your car is being worked on, or while waiting at a gate at an airport.
- Download tons of music free for personal use.
- Download a large catalog of videos.
- View digital versions of a number of periodicals
- Access the catalog of all the libraries in our county library system.
- From my home at any time, reserve books, audio, and video material and have it delivered to my local library.
- Walk into any library in our system and log into a computer if I don’t have one.
- Need more time to finish a borrowed item? I can go online with this card and renew it.
- Looking for something not in the system? I can use this card to arrange to get it from other libraries not in the system.
- If I have children, they can have access to children’s books and other media, story hours, and recommendations from knowledgeable staff.
- Pick up current best-sellers without spending a fortune, and without having to figure out what to do with the book after you’ve read it!
With this one little card, the size of a credit card, I can do all of these things for free. Legally.
It just so happens that September, back to school month, is the National Library Card Sign-up Month. It is an amazing privilege afforded people across our country to have this kind of access to most or all of the things I’ve listed above as well as many other services. Our only “membership fee” is the taxes we pay. Libraries are a great equalizer, making what may at one time have been the preserve of the well-to-do available to anyone with a card who goes online, picks up the phone, or walks through the door.
Signing up for a library card also can benefit your library. The number of people holding library cards is one of the statistics, along with circulation numbers, computer usage numbers and other metrics, that libraries use to secure legislative funding which is a significant part of the funding of most libraries. Your local taxes don’t pay the whole bill. Think of signing up for a library card as a way of lobbying your legislators!
I remember when my parents first signed me up for a library card. Back then it was literally a piece of printed card stock with my name typed on it. Nothing was digital back then. You had a check out desk where the librarian stamped due dates on the books, and took pictures of your library card and the books you’d withdrawn. I was bookish even as a kid, and though my parents couldn’t buy me a lot of books, they opened worlds of wonder to me by signing me up for that little card. Having a library card helped nurture of love of reading that became a lifelong habit.
It’s easy to sign up, something you can do in less than five minutes. You can help yourself, help your community, and help your local library–a vital cultural institution in every community. Why not do it today? Snoopy will think you are cool.