Like so many kids who grew up in the nineties, I was once an “Arthur” addict. I learned many valuable lessons from the adventures of the adorable aardvark and his friends. For example, you will not die if you eat a green potato chip, snowballs do not belong in the freezer, and, most importantly, having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card! As long as I live, I will never forget that scene in which the Brain sings about his love for Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
My parents have been taking me to the library since I was a toddler. I got my own library card for the first time when I was eight years old, right after my family moved from Australia to Colorado. I’ve had this same card for almost fifteen years, and in that time, I have been asked by a few librarians if I would like a new card, but I’m totally attached to the one I already have. It’s nothing fancy: just a basic piece of laminated paper with my eight-year-old signature on the back in newly-learned cursive. But I think that gives it a certain kind of charm. (I also know the number on it by heart which makes it really easy for me to put things on hold.)
During college, my appreciation for library cards only grew. In addition to my regular library card, I acquired a student ID which served many purposes, one of which was to check out books from the college library. I did, however, also have a library card for the public library up the street (keychain and all).
Throughout my life, the library has always been a place of learning and entertainment. For example, when I was in high school, I decided that I wanted to watch every movie that had ever won the Academy Award for best picture. The library had all of the films (including the VHS of the silent movie Wings, which is the first movie to win the award). In college, when I had to write my senior capstone paper, the library was there with a seemingly endless supply of books about dystopian literature.
Of course, I’m not the only one who benefits from frequent visits to the library. Libraries have been a staple in the lives of many famous American authors. Ray Bradbury, for example, author of Fahrenheit 451, credited the library with being an incredible resource for his education and writing career. Serving as equalizers of the classes, libraries provide resources and learning materials to anyone who signs up for a library card.
Having a library card will help broaden your child’s perspective. Libraries provide easy access to information about other cultures, which is especially nice if you can’t afford an expensive overseas vacation. According to the National Reading Campaign in Canada, “you can borrow a book, but you get to keep the ideas.” Having a library card will also give your child the opportunity to practice the principle of responsibility. For example, he or she must learn to keep track of the library card, to take care of the borrowed books, and to return materials to the library on time.
I can’t imagine life without my library card. Over the last decade and a half I have checked out hundreds of books by various authors and from many different genres. I’ve probably checked out just as many movies. The library has given me access to new ideas, interesting people, and fantastic places, all of which have expanded my imagination and my understanding of the world. As long as I returned the books on time, it was all free!
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