What Does It Mean to Have a Library Card?
March 27, 2013
I think about this often. It’s a plastic card 3.25 inches long by 2 inches tall. One side reveals a sleek 3D image depicting your access to information, resources, entertainment, programs, and, really, your world. On the back is a barcode with string of 14 numbers that makes the card account unique to an individual—whether adult or child.
When I was about four years old, I got my first library card with MCPL. It was a white card that featured the rainbow book logo and the barcode just beneath it. I don’t think I realized it then, but when I got that card, I was given more than just a card to check out books. I was given responsibility.
They say knowledge is power, and with this little card, even a little kid has access to a whole world of information and knowledge. Peter Parker’s uncle, Ben, once said, "With great power, comes great responsibility." The same registers with a library card, now that I think about it. I can check out 200 items—books, DVDs, CDs, audiobooks, genealogy materials, and a whole lot of other cool things for study or entertainment purposes.
Two hundred. That’s a lot of stuff to be responsible for. To give a kid this card is not a scary practice though, it’s giving them the opportunity to mature and prepare himself or herself for the greater journey that lies ahead
I especially think of kindergarteners here, getting ready to enter the big world of school. Their journey will be filled with homework, group projects, and a plethora of assignments. When I first sign a kindergartener up for a card and inform the parents that the card can have 200 items checked out to it at one time, some parents’ faces take on a slight look of alarm—possibly feeling uneasy thinking about their child getting so many items,or maybe they are worried they left the oven on.
As any child starts his or her path through education, the responsibility of a library card pales in comparison to the responsibility that lies ahead—like being responsible for getting assignments completed and turned in on time, studying for tests that will affect the their placement in a classroom and even their ability to get to college, managing a schedule of extracurricular activities, work schedule, and a whole lot of other vastly important things.
A library card now can help kids get familiar with responsibility. It will also give them access to Online Resources to help them study for classes, turn-in assignments informed by accurate and reliable data, build academic as well as practical skills for their future ahead, and enable them to be responsible for their learning outside the classroom throughout their educational journey.
To learn anything new, it’s all about taking preparatory steps to get to where you want to be. It's a lot like learning how to play the violin. One has to learn how to read music and be familiar with the notes and notation before one can apply that knowledge to playing songs, and the same goes for being responsible. We need to be responsible for small stuff before we can tackle the bigger stuff.