I used to eat at Chili’s a lot. I’m not necessarily a huge fan of lower-middle-tier casual American eateries (though if I could go here, I would) or baby back ribs, but my friend was a waiter there for several years, so I went to be supportive. Every now and then, I’d come in and my friend would tell me about an exciting promotion called “Margarita Madness.” As appealing as it sounded, it turned out the only madness was with the nature of the promotion itself. While I crazily expected there to be discounts on margaritas during this period of purported insanity, that was not the case; the drinks remained full price. The only difference between the “madness” period and a perfectly sane day during the rest of the year was that during the promotion…wait for it…the staff of Chili’s tried extra hard to sell their customers margaritas. You didn’t receive any special benefit, only additional pressure to buy something. It was truly maddening.
As hard a time as I gave my friend about that silly non-promotion, years later, I find myself to be something of a hypocrite. You see, September is Library Card Sign-up Month. Like the misleading “Margarita Madness” I maligned a minute ago, the crux of this promotional time is simply increased effort to get people to partake in something that’s exactly the same as it always is. The key difference in our case is that a library card is free, now and always. We can’t make it free-er, but we can proudly tell you how it gives you free access to millions of books, audiobooks, movies, TV shows, educational DVDs, e-books, digital magazines, databases, computers, maker technology, enriching and entertaining programs, and a team of people dedicated to helping you with your information needs. It provides oodles of value. If you’re not convinced by nebulous terms like “oodles,” try the ALA Library Value Calculator to put a dollar amount on just how valuable a library card can be to you. I’m betting it’s significantly more than a margarita (at least a single one).
We hope you choose to celebrate Library Card Sign-up Month by getting a card of your own if you don’t already have one, if not with us then at the library that serves your town, or by telling a friend about the supreme value of a card. We’ll do our part this month much like we do all the other months: By enthusiastically telling you to sign up, but a little more loudly than normal. Not too loudly, though. We’re library folk, after all.