Library Card Sign-up Month Fact Sheet

September is Library Card Sign-up Month – a time when the American Library Association and libraries across the country remind parents that a library card is the most important school supply of all.

This year marks the 30th anniverary of Library Card Sign-up Month, a national observance that was launched in 1987 to ensure every child obtain a library card and use it. Since then, thousands of public and school libraries join each fall in a national effort to ensure every child does just that.

Library cards are generally free to those living in the library's service area. In most cases, borrowing privileges are granted on the spot. Some libraries may require some form of identification, proof of residency or the signature of a guardian.

Today’s Public Libraries

Libraries play an important role in the education and development of children. Studies show that children who are read to in the home and who use the library perform better in school and are more likely to continue to use the library as a source of lifetime learning.

Librarians are literacy experts. Libraries offer a variety of 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."

Society is changing in the way it consumes information. Libraries are evolving with these changes to serve the public and to continue to fulfill their role in leveling the playing field for all who seek information and access to technologies.

Today’s public libraries are thriving technology hubs that millions rely on as their first or only choice for Internet access and digital content. In addition to books, magazines, DVDs, computers, games, software and other multimedia materials, libraries provide access to e-books and e-book readers. Ninety percent of libraries offer access to e-books, an increase of 14 percent from 2012. Mobile devices, including e-book readers, which are available at 39 percent of libraries.

Often the library is the first point of contact in helping community members. From providing assistance to small business owners to assisting with access to e-government resources, libraries are changing lives through education.

Libraries are America’s great information equalizers – the only place people of all ages and backgrounds can find and freely use such a diversity of resources, along with the expert guidance of librarians.