September is Library Card Sign-up Month. This year, Disney Pixar's superhero family, the Incredibles, are honorary chairs of Library Card Sign-Up Month. Having the Incredibles is only apropos. After all, the worlds that open to you when you have a library card are, well, incredible.
The American Library Association (ALA) and libraries nationwide joined together to create the month back in 1987. The campaign originally started as a response to then Secretary of Education William Bennett, who stated, “Let’s have a campaign… Every child should obtain a library card and use it.” And there are so many ways you can use your library card.
First and foremost, a library card opens myriad worlds of learning and entertainment. From non-fiction to fiction books to periodicals and magazines, library card holders have almost unlimited access to as many books as they want. But books are only the first of many benefits you receive when you hold a library card. Here are just a few perks:
- Free shipping is not just for websites. Thanks to inter-library loan programs, the sky is the limit. If your local library does not have what you are looking for, they can track it down from a participating library in the system to get you exactly what you need. Many metropolitan areas, like the DC Public Library, will offer the option to borrow from neighboring cities and counties.
- Long before there was ancestry.com, there was the local library. Most local libraries have census and biographical information, cemetery records, city directories, school yearbooks, newspapers, journals, photographs, and more to assist you in your genealogical research.
- Many libraries nationwide offer programs where patrons can use their library card to access free passes to local museums and attractions. Often offered on a first come first serve basis, libraries such as the Miami Dade Public Library system’s Museum Pass program and the San Francisco Public Library's Discover & Go program offer passes to local zoos, gardens and museums for patrons who use their library cards.
- Book clubs are often held at your local library to meet up with like-minded friends. There are clubs for children and adults at most libraries around the nation, such as the YA for Adults book club at the Austin Public Library, the African American Books & Discussion Club at the Detroit Public Library and the Food for Thought book discussion group at the Galesburg Library in Illinois.
- Library card holders at many libraries, including The City of San Diego’s, have access to tax forms and free tax assistances offered, often through the AARP and their foundation Tax-Aide.