The American Library Association has designated September as Library Card Signup Month. Now this may seem like a novel observance, but in my book, it is seriously cool. There’s the reading, there’s the reuse of books. And then there’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and author, who is serving as the 2008 Honorary Chair for Library Card Sign-up Month. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar! (The secret’s out, I am a closet NBA fan.)
But seriously, what could be better than the library? I used to practically live at the library as a kid–although now, more often than not, I click on over to Amazon and buy a new book rather than walking six blocks to check one out. Bad me. That’s a pretty atrocious habit of convenience that I have slipped into, and one that, with the urging of Kareem, have decided to abandon. Even though I always try to pass my books on, I am still encouraging the production of more stuff thus depleting resources, and my new book passed on will surely still have a shorter shelf life than one repeatedly circulated through a library. So the bottom line is this, borrowing books from a library saves trees and reduces resource consumption. I knew this, it just took the American Library Association to jog my habit-riddled brain a bit.
And I’d like to point this out as well: Libraries offer more than books. They have magazines, audio- and videotapes, computers, software and other multimedia materials. Libraries offer a wide range of other items on loan to children and their families, including toys, games and puzzles. Most can be borrowed for home use simply by showing a library card.
The American Library Association reminds us that libraries also offer programs to stimulate an interest in reading and learning. Preschool story hours expose young children to the joy of reading, while homework centers provide computers and assistance to older children after school. Summer reading clubs keep children reading during school vacation and have been shown to be the most important factor in avoiding the decrease in reading skills that educators refer to as “summer learning loss.”
OK, sold. (Although Kareem had me at “hello.”) To find your local library, visit Libraries.com, and also don’t forget to check out Presidential Libraries, College and University Libraries, and note that many museums even have libraries.