September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month, a “holiday” that I celebrate every month. More than I would like, I hear from co-workers that they A) have not stepped foot in their local library and B) do not have a library card. This amazes me! Not only are they missing out on books but streaming media, enrichment programs, classes, DIY tools and in many cases technology, like 3-D printers, and community fun, like state park passes.
I came across another extremely compelling argument for library cards a few years ago: a 2014 article commissioned by the U.K. Department for Culture Media & Sport found:
Basically the study attached a value to engaging in culture (arts, libraries) and sporting events. The library value was $1780/per person per year (£1,359) OR $148/per person per month (£113). Stated differently, researchers from the London School of Economics considered an individual’s subjective “wellbeing” associated with using a community resource. Regular library visits translated into a value, of nearly $2,000/year! The causal relationship isn’t perfect, are these frequent library goers happy by nature, or does visiting the library make them happier? Either way, I can get behind this valuation and the amount of pleasure derived from having a library card.
Let’s break down some of the benefits of having a library card:
- It’s free
- Not only can you access hard copy materials (books, magazines, newspapers, CDs, DVDs, etc.) but you can also obtain resources from partnering libraries
- There is no need to leave your house- many libraries offer streaming entertainment (movies, shows), as well as audio books and eBooks that can be downloaded. Not to mention the databases! Need information about a topic for school? Looking for data to grow your business? Or want to trace your family’s history? There’s a database for that!
- Want to get crafty or learn a new skill? Makerspaces are everywhere, not only are there supplies to create masterpieces but there are knowledgeable staff members to help bring your vision to fruition.
- Need legal help? Want to practice yoga? Looking to listen to some great music? Check the events page of your local library, there might just be a class, workshop or event that fits the bill.
- Library cards help ensure funding for libraries. Enrollment numbers, items checked-out, attendees at events, all add up to $$ for your local libraries.
I have been taking a deep dive on my local library’s website and have discovered so many resources that I never knew existed. Denver Public Library’s Library of Things has a Colorado State Park Pass, which can be taken out for a period of 1 week and admits a carload of people! Other fun discoveries: cooking classes (!!), genealogy databases (who needs to pay for ancestry websites), phone-a-story (children can call in and listen to stories and songs in English & Spanish), and I’ll stop now.
This infographic shows other interesting items that libraries offer, including a person in Denmark! These “Human Libraries” were created to facilitate human connections between people that may not otherwise meet.
Those of you that have a library card, I encourage you to take another look at your local library. You will probably be surprised by what you find.