September! We’ve got it marked in the calendar, we’ve been counting down the days … Haven’t you?
This month is a special time for libraries: September is Library Card Sign-up Month! Here you were thinking it was just National Sewing Month and International Update Your Resume Month. Oh, no. September is so much more.
Since the mid-’80s, this month has had a special significance. Library Card Sign-up Month started in 1987 after William Bennett, the Secretary of Education, remarked, “Let’s have a campaign … Every child should obtain a library card and use it.”
Soon after Bennett made this noble declaration, the American Library Association LA) teamed up with the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) to start the annual campaign, a time when libraries nationwide remind parents, caregivers, students and communities at large that signing up for a library card is the first step on the path to academic achievement and lifelong learning.
In honor of this most special of months, here is some library trivia for you:
- Americans go to public libraries more often than they go to the movies.
- There are more public libraries in the United States than Starbucks.
- The largest Library in the world is the Library of Congress, with more than 167 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves, which would span from the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., to Cape Canaveral in Florida.
- The Library Company of Philadelphia, founded in November 1731 by Benjamin Franklin, is widely recognized as the first Public Library in the United States. It was a subscription library and supported by members.
For this year’s campaign, ALA and libraries nationwide are joined by teen activist, author, executive producer and founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks, Marley Dias, in promoting the power of a library card. As honorary chair of Library Card Sign-up Month, Dias will remind the public that signing up for a library card provides access to technology, multimedia content, and educational programming that transforms lives and strengthens communities.
Library Card Sign-up Month coincides with the onset of the new school year. But of course, libraries are meant to be enjoyed by people of all ages – and it’s never too late or too early to sign up for a card.
Anyone who lives, works, or owns property in Cape Neddick or the Yorks qualifies for a free library card at York Public Library. Visitors can purchase a temporary or non-resident card for a modest fee. Small children can check out materials under their parents’ cards, and get their very own library card as early as five years of age. Do you remember when you got your first Library card? There is nothing more empowering.
What can you do with a library card? For many of the Library’s offerings (such as guest speakers, exhibits, storytimes, and more) no card is needed; but equipped with a library card, you can:
- Check out books and materials from our York Public Library and beyond. A library card gives you access to Minerva, a network of over 60 Maine libraries with a shared catalog of more than 6 million books, audiobooks, magazines, DVDs, downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. Books will be transported to YPL and when they’re ready for pickup; we’ll call or email to let you know.
- Access over 350,000 streaming and downloadable movies, shows, eBooks, audiobooks, magazines, music and more. Just like Netflix or Audible… but free!
- Borrow directly from other libraries. York Public Library is one of 68 participating libraries in Maine’s Reciprocal Borrowing Program, so if you’re around Maine and want to check out materials directly from the local library, simply present your York Public Library card, and you’re good to go. (You can see the full list of libraries in this program here.)
- Enjoy discounted passes to museums, like Portland’s new Children’s Museum and Theatre.
- Browse databases to research articles on any topic, read newspapers online, learn a language online, and so much more.
If you don’t have a card, come to the library and get yours today. Snap a picture of it with your phone so you always have it on hand. (And, if you are observing National Sewing Month and/or International Update your Resume Month, we’ll set you up with the right resources to celebrate properly.)
Happy Library Card Sign-up Month from York Public Library!
This article was originally published in the Library’s recurring column “Shelf Life” with The York Weekly and SeacoastOnline.com. View it here.