September is an important time of year, not only because the leaves are changing color, or the kids have gone back to school (FINALLY), or because every fast food joint you pass is advertising the return of pumpkin spice goodness.
Guys, September is important because here in the States, it is Library Card Sign-Up Month.
Did you know this? I didn’t.
I went out to pick up a gallon of milk last night, and as I was driving home, there it was on my town library’s sign.
SEPTEMBER IS LIBRARY CARD SIGN-UP MONTH.
I had no idea! Curious, I came home and asked Master Google to make sure this was real life and not some sordid ploy to trick people into getting free library cards, and guess what?
Of course, you can get library cards any time, not just in September, but the focus this month is on making sure people have access to the resources they need to succeed, and a library card is a portal to an unbelievable amount of resources. (and magic.)
Libraries do a whole lot more than keeping books on shelves. (WHAT? I KNOW!) Libraries and their cape-less super heroes and heroines – some people call these folks ‘librarians’ – help foster a love of reading in people of all ages. Not only do they provide literacy support, they also provide computer and Internet access for those who can’t afford it at home. Why is that important? From elementary school and up, nowadays educators expect kids have access to the Internet and homework assignments are based on that assumption. Without libraries, students who do not have Internet at home are left behind. Displaced workers often use the computers at the library to apply for jobs. Without libraries, many of these folks would have no way to look for work.
Wherever I have lived, I have been a frequent visitor at my local library. We moved to the town I currently live in about thirteen years ago, when all four of my kids were under seven. We often went to check out books and to listen in on story hour. Over the years, my kids have been to our library to watch magic shows, see wild animals, and learn how to paint henna on their skin.
Johnson Library in Genesee Township, Michigan, is a small library, but it’s just the right size for our small town. In this tiny white building, my children have learned that reading can be fun, that books are important, and perhaps most importantly, that the library is a safe place with trustworthy, knowledgeable adults inside. Our librarians are Shari – who became a librarian because she likes books and also, I suspect, because her name rhymes with library – and Ron, who week by week and month by month, have watched my children grow from tiny hooligans to young adults through the common interaction of a little plastic card being passed over the counter.
My twenty-year-old daughter and I were in the car the other day and passed the library. Out of nowhere, she looked at me and asked if I remembered the day she got her first library card. She went on, “It wasn’t this library, it was the one we went to before we moved. I was four. We went to story hour with Mother Goose and she read us books. When we were done, you told me I was big enough now to get my own library card. You took me to the counter and I signed my name on it. It was a big moment in my life. I’ve never forgotten it.”
My daughter is in her third year of college now, on track to earn her Masters of Library Science degree.
One day, she too will be a cape-less super heroine, a librarian who holds the key to books and knowledge.
Local libraries are crucial to their communities. Support your local libraries. And this September, don’t forget to pick up your plastic, rectangular portal to magic… a library card.