Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 17:24 EDT

Your Library Card: a Ticket to Savings and Family Fun

September 6, 2011

CHICAGO, Sept. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — September is Library Card Sign-up Month, a time when libraries throughout the country remind parents and caregivers that a library card is the most important and cost-effective school supply of all.

Owning a library card provides students the resources they need to compete academically. Most public libraries (89.6 percent) provide students free access to databases of news articles, encyclopedias and test preparation materials, as well as homework help and resources. In addition, public libraries serve as the number one provider of free Internet access, an important resource for families without access at home when 96 percent of school districts require students to use the Internet to complete their homework.

Why spend when you can borrow? According to the National Retail Federation, this year consumers are expected to pay more than $600 for back- to- school supplies. Libraries offer more than just books; they are family destinations that can offset dwindling budgets with free access to a variety of entertainment and educational resources.

Families can save hundreds of dollars per year by taking advantage of free library services including:

Computers and Internet access: Today’s libraries are thriving technology hubs that offer free access to the Internet and computers. More than 86 percent of libraries offer wireless environments and lend e-readers, smart phones, tablet computers or iPods.

E-books: More than two-thirds (67.2 percent) of libraries offer access to e-books, up 12 percent from two years ago. According to Overdrive.com, e-book checkouts in libraries increased by more than 200 percent in 2010.

DVDs and videos: Instead of paying to stream or rent a movie, many libraries offer free DVDs, including recently released feature films, and some offer videos for download from the library’s website.

Museum tickets: Why buy museum passes when your library may have them for free? Contact your local library to ask if they offer family museum passes for check out.

Online databases: Just like your library buys books that you can then check out for free, it also buys online subscriptions you can use for free with your library card. These sites cannot be found via traditional search engines and can only be accessed through your library’s website or library computers. These online library resources are safe, accurate and often available 24/7.

Homework help: Most public libraries now offer online homework help, serving the educational needs of more than 42 million K-12 students. Some libraries also offer on-site tutors to help all grade levels with research, writing and more.

Entertainment media: Video games and video game accessories may be available at your library. Some libraries lend educational toys to promote learning among young children.

Instructional classes: Libraries offer a variety of classes, from grant and resume writing to money management. More than 87 percent of libraries provide technology training. Also the majority of libraries offer English as a Second Language (ESL) courses and bilingual support.

Live entertainment: Book clubs and author appearances are commonly held. Your library may also screen movies and host music concerts or cultural events.

Tax preparation: Some libraries offer tax assistance.

Financial information: All libraries offer neutral financial information to help you make important decisions on your finances.

Librarians: As trained information managers, librarians can help find the information you are looking for quickly and efficiently.

Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr., is the 2011 Library Card Sign-up Month Honorary Chair. He says, “The library card is the smartest card in my wallet.”

Ripken appears in print and digital public service announcements (PSAs), reminding parents and children that a library card is one of the most important tools in achieving academic success. For ideas on how to use your library card to save money and spend family time together, visit the Connect with your kids @ your library® web page [http://atyourlibrary.org/connectwithyourkids]. Connect with your kids encourages parents to use the resources at their library to spend quality time with their children at the library, at home and in their community.

Library Card Sign-up Month is a time when the American Library Association’s (ALA) Campaign for America’s Libraries and all types of libraries across the country remind parents that a library card is the most important school supply of all.

The Campaign for America’s Libraries, (www.ala.org/@yourlibrary) is ALA’s public awareness campaign that promotes the value of libraries and librarians. Thousands of libraries of all types – across the country and around the globe – use the Campaign’s @ your library® brand. The Campaign is made possible by ALA’s Library Champions, corporations and foundations.

The American Library Association (ALA) is the oldest and largest library association in the world. Its mission is to promote the highest quality library and information services and public access to information. For more information on the ALA please visit www.ala.org.

SOURCE American Library Association

Source: PR Newswire