(Official release, ALA.org) September is Library Card Sign-up Month – a time when the American Library Association and libraries across the country remind parents that a library card is the most important school supply of all.
The observance was launched in 1987 to meet the challenge of then Secretary of Education William J. Bennett who said: “Let’s have a national campaign…every child should obtain a library card – and use it.” Since then, thousands of public and school libraries join each fall in a national effort to ensure every child does just that.
Library cards are generally free to those living in the library’s service area. In most cases, borrowing privileges are granted on the spot. Some libraries may require some form of identification, proof of residency or the signature of a guardian.
Today’s Public Libraries
Libraries play an important role in the education and development of children. Studies show that children who are read to in the home and who use the library perform better in school and are more likely to continue to use the library as a source of lifetime learning.
Librarians are literacy experts. Libraries offer a variety of programs to stimulate an interest in reading and learning. Preschool story hours expose young children to the joy of reading, while homework centers provide computers and assistance to older children after school. Summer reading clubs keep children reading during school vacation and have been shown to be the most important factor in avoiding the decrease in reading skills that educators refer to as “summer learning loss.”
As our culture is shifting to a more active role in the creation of culture and information, today’s libraries are finding new and innovative ways to extend their collections and services, providing access to a wide variety of tools, both high-tech and low-tech, to empower their communities.
In addition to books, magazines, CDs and DVDs, computers, games, software and other multimedia materials, libraries increasing offer access to e-books and e-book readers. Ninety percent of libraries offer access to e-books, an increase of 14 percent from 2012. Mobile devices, including e-book readers are available at 39 percent of libraries.
Today’s public libraries are thriving technology hubs that millions rely on as their first or only choice for Internet access and digital content. Public libraries offer free classes and one-on-one instruction on technology, Internet and resource use. They help people start businesses, create resumes, search for jobs and apply for jobs online. Libraries help people connect with government and their communities, complete online forms and use online government services.
September is Library Card Sign-up Month. Visit your library to get involved. Tools for librarians are available on the ALA website. Members of the general public are directed to ilovelibraries.org/library-card to learn more.