The American Library Association (ALA) has designated September National Library Card Sign-up Month. The last weeks of August and early September coincide with the beginning of the school year in many states, and according to the ALA, a free library card is the most significant item a child could have in his or her arsenal of back-to-school supplies. Children who are exposed to the library at an early age become adults who love to read and who continue to use the library as a source of information and entertainment.
National Library Sign-up Month was started in 1987 after then Secretary of Education, William J. Bennett proposed to “have a national campaign…every child should obtain a library card – and use it.” Back then, before the predominance of the Internet, libraries primarily offered patrons the ability to borrow books and magazines, as well as get help with research from a reference librarian. Today’s library offers DVDs, CDs, electronic books, movies and access to hundreds of academic databases. Educational games and software can also be found at the Library.
Over the years, libraries have evolved into community centers, serving as meeting places for clubs and, lectures, presentations, and demonstrations surrounding topics of interest to residents, including searching for a job and starting a new business. In addition, public libraries have Internet-accessible computers, which are used by young and old alike. Those who are able to bring their personal wireless devices to the library are able hook up to a public Wi-fi system. Tutors help students who need extra help with schoolwork. Libraries have even been designated community heating and cooling centers in times of weather emergencies.
“A free library card is essential to people of all ages,” said ALA President Sari Feldman in a prepared statement. “Through our support of education, employment, entrepreneurship, engagement and empowerment, libraries are transforming to create individual opportunity and community progress. Libraries have proven to be a safe haven in times of crisis, a bridge across the digital divide and a catalyst for content creation through nontraditional resources such as 3D printers, recording studios, culinary classrooms and lendable tools.”
This year’s National Library Card Sign-up Month Honorary Chair is the cartoon character, Snoopy, the star of “The Peanuts Movie,” which will be released this fall. Snoopy’s mission is to remind everyone that the coolest card of all is a library card.
Libraries throughout Central New Jersey will be actively signing up new patrons and presenting them with library cards throughout the month of September. No matter the age, learning style, or information needed, the public library is the go-to source for all members of the community.