A Gift Card-of Sorts

by Melody Morrow

September is Library Card Sign Up Month, which really hit home for me, especially in this economy. This is the time when the American Library Association and libraries across the country remind parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles that a library card is the most important school supply of all.

So many of us are accustomed to going to iTunes, Amazon.com or local bookstores to purchase the coveted new Harry Potter book, music releases or latest movie or purchase a Kindle or other e-readers, but the key word here is “purchase.” There are so many opportunities to acquire these bits of entertainment without using your green. The one place, which has not been given the limelight, in a while is the Library. For the past several years, it seems libraries seemed to have faded in consumers’ vernacular, but it really remained steadfast and should be considered a dear old friend.

You might be trying to remember the last time you even went to a library, but if you think back, you’ll recall that they really do have a lot to offer. Books, obviously, as well as CDs and DVDs you can rent–and did I mention, it’s free?

For you history buffs, American Libraries Magazine mentioned that around 1900, John Cotton Dana, director of the Newark (N.J.) Public Library, devised a system using a borrower’s card and a book card”.

If you used to have a library card, but don’t know where it is anymore, look online to find your neighborhood library and sign up—it’s still free! If you never got one, now is as good a time as any. All you have to do is present ID online or in person and your local library will get you up and running.

You may be surprised at the gems you find. I know with everyone’s busy schedules it may be inconvenient and there is so much to read online you may think, ‘well why bother.’

Going to the library after a long hiatus for me was pretty cool. It felt like I was an explorer, not knowing what I would come across, but I’m glad I took the time to research. The library offers the newest books and releases, but keep in mind that there may be wait lists. And while you wait, there are a lot of classics you may have missed and want to catch up on. Also, I found out that Kindle readers can borrow ebooks from libraries. In addition to borrowing library materials, the card let’s you reserve a computer, download digital media, search electronic databases and much more.

I wonder if public libraries will start producing eco-friendly cards or maybe not even use cards. One librarian I talked with said colleges are using electronic cards, which have multiple uses.

Some people even collect library cards from all over the world like Michael Sauers at the Nebraska Library Commission a.k.a., The Travelin’ Librarian.  Now that’s recycling.

I must say though, there is still something fun about being a card-carrying member!

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