Everyone has moments that you can’t forget. Some of them are good memories, some of them are bad. But they stick with you. One of my good memories is the first time I traveled to a library. I was just a little kid in North Liberty Elementary School and we all walked as a class from the school to the library located downtown. For those that know North Liberty, this wasn’t the newer library that was built a while back. This was the little one over on SR 4 next to Gene’s Towing and Repair.
Here’s a side note. You know you’re getting old when you have to explain where a place used to be, because they moved.
The reason library cards are on my mind this week is that I wrote an article about September being Library Card Sign-Up Month.
In an age where every organization has their own subscription service, it’s surprising to see that libraries haven’t adopted that position. Hulu, Disney+, HBO, Netflix, Nintendo Switch Online, The James Patterson Experience. Everyone has them.
Okay, in all honesty, that last one was completely false. Plus, I’d never pay for a service revolving around James Patterson. I’m not sure what’s worse: paying for that or living in Michigan. Tough call.
Did you know that you can go to your local library and browse literally thousands of books, comic books, magazines, audiobooks, and more for free? You can even rent DVDs and (in some locations) video games for a small fee. All you need is a library card.
Have you ever wanted to learn more about where you come from? Most libraries have genealogical classes. Looking for a place for your children to spend a few hours after school? Most libraries have programs for children of all ages.
Here’s another side note. When I say “most libraries” I say that in case you’re reading this, and your local library is in that 1% that doesn’t (because of funding). Don’t go contacting me with your “but Jim, my library doesn’t do that.” If you do, I’ll just respond “sorry about that.”
Now, if you’re like me, you might not really feel like going to an actual physical library. I’m an introvert by nature and a hermit by trade, what can I say. Now, if you have a library card, you don’t actually have to enter a library to rent books/music/movies/audiobooks. There are a series of apps that you can use to do exactly that. Hoopla, OverDrive, and Libby (by OverDrive) all allow you to rent those items and download them to your phone. For free, if you have that small rectangular library card.
Libraries are magical, but sometimes unappreciated, places.
Which saddens me when I hear about the St. Joseph County Council, in Indiana, thinking about cutting funding to the St. Joseph County Public Library. If they had approved that, it would have meant nearly $500,000 cut from the library system. That’s basically cutting a branch. Now, if you’re not from around St. Joseph County, then you don’t know that there are 11 branches. Those branches span the length of the county. From as far south as North Liberty and Lakeville, all the way north to German Township in South Bend.
It was the backlash from the community that swayed the council from deciding on the funding cuts. It’s great to see that people are willing to stand up and defend the library system.
And, if you’re like me, you don’t like to spend money. I’m cheap. I get it. Audiobooks are expensive. New hardback books are expensive. Comic books are really expensive. However, at your local library, you can rent those for free. Don’t want to spend $20 on a DVD when you’re not sure you’ll like it? Rent it from the library for a nominal fee.
“Books are a uniquely portable magic,” states prolific author Stephen King.
If that’s true, then a library is an academy for wizards. Go study some magic.