I think it’s safe to say the proliferation of special holidays and recognitional months has gotten a little out of control. I mean, I’m all for everybody having their causes recognized and interests celebrated, but for every Baby Safety Month and International Literacy Day, there’s supremely goofy stuff like Shameless Promotion Month and International Talk Like a Pirate Day. While I certainly would have celebrated Chocolate Milkshake Day (September 12, apparently) with extreme gusto had I been aware of it, I fear this niche holiday overload may result in a reduced impact or complete overlooking of certain minor special days/months that are highly worthwhile, and by “highly worthwhile,” I of course mean “important to me and my agenda.” Amid the sea of frosty chocolate milkshakes and pirate pARRRRlance, you may have missed that September is Library Card Sign-Up Month.
According to my library overlords at the American Library Association, Library Card Sign-Up Month is “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.” While we’re constantly touting the value of library cards, we’re aware that less library-minded folks may need a special reminder during the year, just as Valentine’s Day is needed to prompt thoughtful romantic gift giving and St. Patrick’s Day is needed to make us appreciate the oft-neglected joy of imbibing. If a library card’s awesome power for some reason isn’t facepalmingly obvious to you, and you don’t trust my Lincolnian truth-telling tendencies, fortunately, some library eggheads have provided a tool that will allow me to scientifically and objectively demonstrate just how valuable your library and, by extension, your library card, are to you. Using ALA’s Library Value Calculator, I determined the bang a moderate library user with kids gets for his or her buck (this is just a figure of speech, as library cards can of course be had for no bucks). Over the course of a month, if a parent checks out three hardcover books, twenty children or teen books, ten movies, two e-books, reads two magazines in the library, and brings his or her kids to storytime once per week, according to the calculator, that’s a hefty $353 worth of library value, which is a $4,236 value pace for the year. That’s a ton of enrichment and entertainment for absolutely zippo. It’s crazy. It’s wonderful. It’s magical.
In the spirit of the month, I encourage you to experiment with the value calculator to gain an appreciation for how valuable your library is to you. If you or someone you care about doesn’t yet have a card, clear a space in your purse, wallet, or hands-free belt satchel and come pick up the most powerful piece of plastic you’ll ever need.