As parents help their children prepare for a new school year, it is valuable to know that one school supply is free - a library card.
Launched in 1987, Library Card Sign-up Month, which is celebrated in September, is a time when libraries across the country remind parents that a library card is the most important school supply of all. The American Library Association's Campaign for America's Libraries organizes Library Card Sign-up Month.
A new public service announcement featuring WNBA star and honorary chair of Library Card Sign-up Month Candace Parker reminds parents and children that a library card is the "smartest card" you can have. The announcement highlights all the resources libraries offer, delivering the message that they are available for free with a library card.
According to 2008 poll results from Harris Interactive, library card registration is at an all-time high, with 68 percent of American's reporting library card ownership. Use of public libraries is also on the rise, with 76 percent of Americans visiting their local public library in the past year, compared with 65.7 percent two years ago.
This celebration comes at a time when Americans are visiting their libraries more than ever. Americans visit their public libraries 1.4 billion times and check out almost 2.2 billion items each year.
Libraries offer children free access to the tools they need to succeed in school, including books, computers, homework help and Internet resources. In the current economic climate, libraries offer additional classes for parents and other adults on subjects ranging from resume building and job searches to information on financial planning and adult education classes.
This year's Library Card Sign-up Month theme is "The Smartest Card. Get It. Use It. @ your library," and 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.
The Campaign for America's Libraries, www.ala.org@yourlibrary, is the American Library Association's public awareness campaign that promotes the value of libraries and librarians. The campaign is made possible by ALA's Library Champions, corporations and foundations that advocate the importance of the library in American society.
The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 65,000 members. Its mission is to promote the highest quality library and information services and public access to information. For information, visit www.ala.org.