Library Columns Mary Beth Isaacson

Happiness Is Having a Library Card: Get Yours Today! By Mary Beth Isaacson

Are you cool? If you’re one of the 10.5 million Floridians who have a library card, you are! September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month, and it’s the perfect time to join your Highlands County Libraries. Library customers have access to over 450,000 books and movies, technology, and innovative educational software, not to mention the many fun and engaging community programs held at each branch. A library card is your key to opportunity, the coolest card you can own, and it’s free!

cropped-HLC-Logo.gifTo sign up for a library card, visit any of the seven branches of the Heartland Library Cooperative: Avon Park, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Lake Placid, Okeechobee, or Sebring. Your card is good at all seven libraries, no matter where you sign up. You’ll need a photo ID, but if you’ve recently moved and haven’t updated it yet, no worries. Just bring another document showing your new local address, such as a utility bill, bank statement, pay stub, property tax receipt/bill, vehicle registration, 12-month lease, or voter registration card. This is necessary because our libraries are primarily funded by local tax dollars. In Highlands County, that’s the Board of County Commissioners. By the way, according to the Florida Division of Library and Information Services, the return on investment for Florida’s public libraries is $10.18 for every tax dollar spent.

So, what can you get with your library card? Each of our branches has thousands of books, movies, audiobooks, and magazines, all free for you to check out. We’ve got free wifi and lots of computers, so if you need to look for a job, do your homework, fill out online applications, or keep in touch with your family and friends, you can do all of that at your library. The Heartland Library Cooperative subscribes to a number of online databases for genealogy, continuing education, language learning, e-books, e-magazines, and e-audiobooks, all of which can be accessed from your home computer, tablet, or smartphone. Your libraries also play a crucial role in children’s education and development, helping them to find books that excite and inspire them to become lifelong readers. Pretty cool, huh?

APL Friends Book Sale September 2015The honorary chair for Library Card Sign-up Month 2015 is Snoopy, the beloved beagle from Charles Schulz’s world famous Peanuts comic strip. Generations of readers know Snoopy and his many alter egos, which include the World War I Flying Ace, an astronaut, Beagle Scout troop leader, a zoo’s worth of animals ranging from an alligator to a vulture, various star athletes, and college student Joe Cool. He was also quite a well-read dog, sometimes pretending to be Dracula, Dr. Beagle and Mr. Hyde, and Jay Gatsby, not to mention his own literary ambitions as the World Famous Author, whose oft-rejected stories all begin with the stock phrase “It was a dark and stormy night.” Snoopy epitomizes the power of the imagination, making him a perfect choice for promoting libraries. After all, not everyone can be a World Famous Golf Pro, but your public library is full of books and movies to spark your imagination—and maybe even give you some golf pointers!

Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, and the other Peanuts characters also sometimes went to the library. In one series of strips from April 1960, Linus gets a library card, his “citizenship in the land of knowledge.” At first, he is ecstatic just to have the card and thinks of framing it. But when Charlie Brown suggests that he put it to use by checking out books, Linus panics. The library is always so quiet, he feels out of place, and he worries that someone will slug him. But finally, he conquers his fear and checks out a book, realizing that it was “a rather pleasant and enjoyable experience.”

At your Highlands County Libraries, we try to make all of your visits to our branches pleasant and enjoyable, and we hope that you’ll be as excited as Linus was. There’s no catch: all you have to do is walk in, sign up for a card, and you’re on your way to opportunity. There’s something for everyone at your local library, and it’s all free with a library card!