September is National Library Card Sign-up Month. If you live in a community with a public library, embrace it! Celebrate the gateway you have been offered into the magical world of free books. Not everyone has that good fortune. If you are lucky enough to have that access and don’t yet have a library card, go now. This is pretty much the greatest free institution offered to the public.
Here are the six reasons I give my high school students for signing up for a library card. I hope they all get a card and use it often.
1. The library is a safe haven.
Elementary school and junior high were tough times for me. I was a kid who liked to tap dance more than tackle, and books offered an escape. No one picks on you for being a nerd or a wimp when you are in a library. The shelves are crowded with protagonists with interests that challenge all sorts of social norms, and in those books every kid has an ally.
2. Spending time at the library will leave you with more money in your pocket.
I remember scrounging through loose change in my car to buy that Big Beef Burrito Supreme at Taco Bell. I read a lot of books when I was growing up, and without the library I would have spent a small fortune. Obviously many of our students don’t have the money to spend on books, and others just can’t place buying books above buying gas or snacks. Libraries offer the perfect solution.
3. Libraries can improve your dating life and chance for a good prom date.
Not everyone can attract a date through the preferred high school norms of six-pack abs and good hair. For the rest of us, talking to someone about a book you love or a character that made you laugh can be the perfect way to strike up a conversation with someone who has captured your interest.
4. Technology available in the library can expand your horizons .
Research can be a tricky endeavor in a world where anyone can post anything. I want my students to see the value in carefully vetted databases, scholarly criticisms, and a librarian who can help guide you to the most valuable material rather than just the most accessible (like Facebook posts, Tweets and Snapchat streaks).
5. Most libraries are climate controlled.
Obviously, this is not my main reason for hitting up the local library, but it might just be enough to get a reticent reader through the door. The classrooms in my school can be swelteringly hot in June and September, and frigid in the dark winter months. In the name of protecting books, most libraries offer a civilized temperature and relative humidity to take the sting out of either extreme. Once the kid is through the door in an attempt to escape a hot study hall, he might just pick up a book.
6. The library can save you from turning into a robot.
I love my iPhone, but it drains and exhausts me. The constant multi-tasking leaves me feeling harried and stressed out. And I don’t use my phone a fraction of the time my students do. Access to lots of free books gives kids a chance to get away from the constant stream and relax with a good book.
Why do you love your library card? Or why do you encourage your students to get a card? I’d love to hear your reasons in the comments below.