September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month. As a librarian and lifelong learner, I can think of a million reasons to sign-up for a library card but, in my opinion, the most important reason everyone should have a library card is this: access.
I still remember the awe I felt walking into my hometown library as a young kid to get my first library card. With that precious new card, I was able to wander the streets of Paris, learn how volcanoes erupt and get stranded on a desert island. I learned so much from materials I wasn’t able to find anywhere else. Later, as a struggling college and graduate student, I saved money on required reading and internet service, thanks to my library card. As a voracious reader, my library card also provided me opportunities to explore a multitude of resources to educate myself on whatever random topic I am currently obsessed with learning. Even before I became a librarian, one of the first things I did upon moving somewhere new was to sign-up for a library card, as I wanted to enjoy the benefit of access.
Throughout my career in libraries, I witnessed firsthand the power access to information and resources provides to the community. For instance, one of my regular customers found himself unhappy in his career and wanted a change. He came in daily after work to use the computers to job search and update his resume. He would also check out books in areas of professional development, such as leadership and self-confidence. We guided him to our online databases where he could take classes on time management and other business skills. After four months, he returned one evening to proudly announce he had secured a new job. Even after achieving his goal, he remained a frequent library user as he still needed access to business resources (like Reference USA that are free through the library) to help him continue to succeed.
Another customer who used her library card to access the public computers since she did not have one at home, came to the reference desk, in tears, asking how to sign out of the computer. After offering her help, she explained she was trying to create the program for her wedding service on one of our computers and feared she’d lost all her work. She wanted to leave before she felt any worse.
I told her I was not going to let her leave in tears and helped her make her program. She spent nearly three hours on that program and when she left, with a hardcopy of the program in her hands, she beamed with joy.
Throughout my years as a librarian, I’ve helped so many people feel the same joy I did when I first signed up for my library card. My customers have traveled the world, expanded their knowledge and entertained themselves, all with one little card. So many people educated themselves at the Library - all because of the access their library card gives them. This is more than just books, and goes beyond to resources, services, programs and people who truly care about the people in their communities. And all of this is FREE. The access a library card provides is unparalleled.
Sign up here for your own Library card.
This blog was written by Darcey Mesaris