I visit my library at least once a week, usually just to pick up a stack of books I’ve put on hold, but my library also has so many other offerings, like DVDs, e-books, audiobooks, classes, state parks passes, and more. I read a lot, so I try to get most of my books from the library, otherwise I would be spending way too much on books. In 2020 I read 200 books, and 83 of those were borrowed from the library. According to ilovelibraries.org/what-libraries-do/calculator, this saved me $1411.00! In 2021, I read 135 books, 51 of which were from the library, which saved me $867.00. And that’s just for books – I could have saved even more money if I had used many of the other offerings available to me at my library!
Since 1987, every September has been Library Card Sign-Up Month, to signal the beginning of the school year, but also to make sure every child signs up for their own library card. Having a library card as a child is a great way to instill a lifelong love of reading. One of my grandmas used to be a librarian, so she and my parents all introduced me and my brother to reading very early on, but I remember getting my first library card when I was in kindergarten, and it was transformative. I used it so often that eventually the plastic coating started curling up at all four corners.
I have fond memories of going to the library with my mom and my brother very often and always taking out a huge variety of books that we all enjoyed reading. When we were younger, we would often read series with 20 to 100 or more books in them, so the library helped my parents feed our never-ending reading appetite without spending too much or clogging up our house with books. Some of our favorites as little kids were “Henry and Mudge,” “Oliver and Amanda Pig,” and “Biscuit,” but as we got older we gravitated towards “The Boxcar Children,” “Magic Tree House,” and, of course, “Captain Underpants.”
I also have fond memories of attending Halloween parties and other events at the library when we were young, participating in summer reading challenges every year, and even getting to display collections of our personal items in a special case in the children’s section of the library. One year I did Barbies, another I did my carefully-curated pencil and pen collection. I think they let you keep your collection up there for a month; I remember feeling so proud every time I walked by the display when either of us had something there.
As I got older, more options opened up – free career and resume-writing courses, bingo games (I once won an awesome gift basket from this), book clubs (I talk about this more in a previous blog post), computer access, private study rooms, and more. Our library was located in the town park, so it was always a safe, air-conditioned respite from tagging along to boring soccer practices or games my brother was playing in. I’ve moved a few times and sadly no longer have an active library card at my hometown library, but I’ve been able to reap the benefits of the other libraries I’ve signed up for cards from by getting to meet a favorite author, checking out digital audiobooks, and always having a convenient place to drop off my ballot each election. The first thing I do when I move to a new place is always to get a library card.
If you don’t have a library card, sign up for one today – it’s super easy to sign up at your local library! Click here to find a library near you.
Read more about the history of Library Card Sign-Up Month here.