Archived Story

Sign up for a library card this month

Published 3:41pm Monday, September 3, 2012

The library was so much a part of the fabric of my childhood that I can’t imagine not having had a library card.

I was at the library frequently as a child, just as often as I could plow through the books I had checked out and beg my parents or grandmother to take me back to exchange them for others. I remember being amazed that the books were offered completely free, just as long as you brought them back, and that they trusted people to actually bring them back.

When I got a little bit older, I volunteered at the library for the summer reading program, helping younger children check in their reading logs and pick out prizes. It was around this age that I first became aware libraries were not free, but rather bought and paid for by the taxpayers of the city, known to me at the time as “old people.” Still, it was free to use them, and I couldn’t imagine someone who didn’t own the free magical pass known as a library card.

A couple more years down the road, I was actually using the library for something other than pleasure. I frequently needed to check out books for high school research papers, and it was a frequent source of tension between my classmates and me that they had to go to other cities’ libraries to find books on our assigned subjects because I had cleaned out Newport News’ entire selection. (Sorry!)

Anyone who has ever attended college knows the love-hate relationship that develops between a student and the college library. Though I was studious, going to the library usually meant that I had a big research paper to do, and that was never fun, but I still managed to read a few books for fun that I had checked out from the university library.

Even as an adult, I have continued to frequent the library. As I write this column, I have no fewer than four library books checked out from two different cities’ library systems.

Therefore, I was kind of incredulous the other day when we received a news release here at the office from the city of Suffolk, letting us know that September is 2012 Library Card Sign-Up Month nationwide. There’s even a celebrity endorser, the NFL’s Troy Polamalu, and a local contest to encourage people to sign up for a library card.

My first thought: “Why do people need to be encouraged to sign up for something that’s free and has so much to offer? Are there seriously people who don’t already have library cards? They’re paying for the service through their taxes, so why not use it?”

Hopefully, those who don’t have library cards — especially children — will be able to remedy that situation this month. If you do, you have the chance to win a drawing to be featured on your own READ poster to encourage others to get a library card. If you needed any motivation, that sounds pretty cool.

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