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One card fits all

Posted by Susan on September 2, 2009 at 12:00 AM in Libraries
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As your kids head off to school, make sure they have one very important school supply: a library card.

A library card is more than a piece of plastic. It's usually the first tangible thing a child has in their own name. It gives them a sense of ownership and independence and it opens doors for children in so many wonderful ways.

One of my favorite parts of being a children's librarian is giving out those very first library cards. I love watching their faces light up with pride as they receive something that's all their own. Here's what I say:

"Take a good look at the children's reference desk. You're never interrupting a librarian at the desk... we're sitting here waiting for you to ask us a question. Come to us if you need help with homework, or the computer, or finding a book. We'd love to recommend a good book or series for you. No question is ever silly or unimportant."

Library Card.jpgSeptember is National Library Card sign-up month. It started in 1987 to meet a challenge proposed by then Secretary of Education William Bennett who said: "Let's have a national campaign... every child should obtain a library card- and use it."

Does everyone in your family have a library card? Do you remember getting your first library card? How old were you? How about your children? When did they get theirs?

What would you say to a child getting their first library card?


nicole writes...

Susan, is there an age minimum for a library card? Your post made me realize that for all of our trips to the library, it never occured to me to get my kids their own cards.

My son is 3 and my daughter is 5. I'm thinking that she is ready...

SusanAuthor Profile Page writes...

Nicole- it depends on your library. Check with them if they have an age minimum. I generally recommend getting one when a child is ready for the responsibility.... 5 years old sounds fine. It's also a good idea (if you don't have one already) to establish a shelf, basket, etc. in your house where library books go. That way the kids (and grown-ups!) always know where to put their library books, and they're all in one place when you want to return or renew them. At my library, we put the parents' e-mail address on the child's account... so that the parent is the one who gets the renewal, overdue and hold notices. This policy varies from library to library also, so check with your local library system.

Kristen M. writes...

My five year old (then four) got his first library card in his Christmas stocking last year. He loves scanning it himself, entering his PIN and checking out his own books. I'm just sad that our local library system is so high tech that we only have barcodes on the cards. I wish he could have his name on his card!

Lynn writes...

First library card was one of the happy little daydreams I had while I was pregnant - such a nice thought, walking him in there one day to get his own. Last winter, when I signed up to get my library card in a new city, I asked how old kids have to be to get their own. Answer: "Oh, no minimum age." "Well, he can't get one now, can he?" Yup, tied to my license of course, but he got his own at 13 months in his Christmas stocking. We mainly just use mine, but I couldn't resist getting him one because he loved to unpack my wallet and look at all of my cards at the time. Of course it will have a whole different significance when he is 5+ years old.

Rasco from RIF writes...

Thanks for reminding all of us of this vital "card" for all children to obtain; a great habit to establish early!

Suzane writes...

Yes library card is a vital thing I believe, as it really gives a child the sense of ownership and independence.

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