September is Library Card Sign Up Month: A Librarian’s Top Five Reasons to Use Your Library

Summer vacation is over and school is back in full swing — but did you know that September is a great time to visit your local library? Libraries are more than just a place to read books. They’re a place to attend events for kids AND adults, a place to use technology that you might not have access to at home {even if that just means using our printers or fax machines}, and they’re a place to make friends — for your child and for yourself. I love seeing my storytime mamas making plans for playdates or moms night out with each other!

In addition to having everything your big kid needs to get their homework done, and most libraries starting up a brand new session of storytimes for the little ones, libraries are celebrating National Library Card Sign Up Month. Signing up for a library card can do SO MUCH for you! You’ll have access to research databases (including tons of kid-friendly ones to help with homework or even just recommend a great book), streaming content like music and movies, and access to books throughout the state of Michigan through MeLCat interlibrary loan. And the best part? It’s all FREE!  

Many libraries in Genesee County offer tons of discounts, special programs, and offers for their cardholders. Your local library might have additional benefits during the month of September, too! As a children’s librarian and a mama, I spend a lot of time at the library — and so does my family.

So, I wanted to share a list of my top five reasons to visit your library OTHER than checking out books — not just in September, but all year long! ::

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5: A Lesson in Responsibility

Getting your child their own library card can be a great way to give them a sense of responsibility and celebrate growing up {just ask any children’s librarian!} Kindergarten is an excellent time to get a first library card. Some libraries {like the Flint Public Library} don’t even charge late fees on children’s cards. Not all libraries have the same age limits, so call your local library to see what theirs is.

Not sure your child is ready to have his or her own library card, or just don’t want to keep track of due dates for multiple accounts? That’s okay — September is also a great time to make sure your own library card is up to date!

4: Storytime at your Library {due to COVID-19 many of these are on hold – but will be back!}

Spending time at the library with your child is valuable, and attending storytime will help you and your child to learn important skills that will help your child get ready for school.

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Worried your little one is way too wiggly for storytime? I’ll let you in on a little secret: storytime is NOT just a time to sit still and listen quietly! Most children’s librarians — including myself — have some background in child development, and we ALL spend a lot of time with the littles. We know they want to move, and singing, active rhymes, dancing, musical instruments, and jumping around is all part of the experience.

Even better, there are lots of opportunities for parents to join in the fun, too, which helps you connect with your child and model storytime behavior {which is sometimes jumping around and being silly!}. The more you and your child attend, the more they’ll learn what it’s like — so make it a part of your weekly routine! 

3: Need something to do when school is out? We’ve got you covered!

Libraries have programs all year long. Yes, that means during summer vacation, winter break, spring break, on the weekends — ALL THE TIME! In addition to our busy schedule during the summer which keeps kids entertained AND helps to prevent summer slide {which is the loss of school skills that can occur during summer vacation}, we often have special events during shorter breaks, half days, and those random long weekends too. And did I mention that public library programs, like library cards… are always free?

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2: We even have stuff going on for kids who hate reading.

Mamas of reluctant readers — meaning that kid who won’t pick up a book for anything, no matter how much you beg and plead — we see you. And we’ve got plenty of non-reading stuff to do… and also plenty of ways to sneak in some reading without realizing it. If your child likes making crafts, seeing animals, having dance parties, playing video games: libraries can do all of the above.

But speaking of those reluctant readers, how do you get them to read? I always tell parents that flipping through nonfiction books counts. Reading an e-book counts. Graphic novels count. Heck, reading the back of the cereal box counts. When they tell me they’re worried that’s all their kiddo will ever read, I tell them about my brother. When he was in grade school, he hated to read, but he loved hockey. His favorite thing to do was learn all about Red Wings stats. He wouldn’t pick a novel up off the shelf, but he WOULD pore over Red Wings yearbooks and memorize information out of them. They weren’t kid’s books. They weren’t even terribly interesting — to me, at least. But that reluctant reader is currently getting his Ph.D. — and his degree has nothing to do with hockey stats.

1: Your Local Librarian

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I know, I know, I’m a little biased… but I’m also proud of the job that I do as a librarian. One of my favorite quotes about libraries is from author Neil Gaiman: “Google can bring you back a hundred thousand answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.” Visiting your local library gives you access to librarians who can help you do any of the following things:

  • Quickly find ten more awesome books for your truck-obsessed kiddo before they tear every book off the shelf.
  • Recommend some new books for your notoriously picky ten-year-old voracious reader who seems to have already read EVERY. SINGLE. BOOK.
  • Train you or your child in database searching for their homework assignments — and make sure that the resources they’re using aren’t giving out bad information.
  • Find that book with the blue cover that you loved when you were little, even though you can’t remember the title or the author.
  • Help you with your resume or to apply for a job, connect people to other community resources, partner with organizations, and TONS more.

While these are just a few reasons to use the library, there’s lots more to discover by visiting your local branch. I’d love to hear more about your reasons in the comments! In addition to giving other families ideas for what their library can do for them, your ideas might even help other librarians {like this one!} get some fresh new ideas, too!

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Dena
Dena lives in Grand Blanc with her husband, Chris, her daughter (a smart and sassy preschooler), and her daughter's BFF, a grumpy-but-sweet old lady cat named Luna. She works full-time as a children’s librarian in Lapeer and volunteers with her local Great Start Collaborative, the Michigan Library Association, and other organizations to help make the world a better place for kids. Dena grew up in Metro Detroit and spent six years in Massachusetts before moving to Grand Blanc in 2016. She loves spending time with her family, exploring local parks and museums, reading children’s books, trying new restaurants, and checking out a trivia night every once in a while.

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