Library cards a must for students headed back to school

Every year, students and parents make their back-to-school shopping lists and head out to stores to get ready for the new school year.

Doing so can be costly: a recent survey by the Rubicon Project reports that parents planned to spend $873 per child on back-to-school shopping this year.

But there’s one item to pick up that’s free and is still a major player for students in all grades: a library card.

The American Library Association’s annual September is Library Card Sign-up Month campaign works to make sure that all students have a library card, allowing them access to information – online resources, books, periodicals, music and other media – that can help them with their studies but would be out of reach for many families to buy individually.

In New Hampshire, students with a library card have access to the more than 2 million items in the state’s libraries’ collections, including magazines, movies and music, as well as books. If a student’s library doesn’t own a particular item, it can often be requested from another library in the state.

Libraries also offer electronic databases that add even more depth to the resources students can use to complete their schoolwork.

This year, the ALA has enlisted Snoopy to help raise awareness about the importance of library cards, with Joe Cool proclaiming, "What’s Cooler Than Cool? Having a Library Card." Charlie Brown, Sally, Lucy, Linus and Woodstock are also part of the campaign.

"Parents know that a library card gives students access to information that can help them with their studies," said Michael York, New Hampshire state librarian. "But libraries are even more valuable because they have librarians who can help students navigate through a myriad of sources and find the information they need to complete their school assignments."

The New Hampshire State Library promotes excellence in libraries and library services to all New Hampshire residents by assisting libraries and the people of New Hampshire with rapid access to library and informational resources through the development and coordination of a statewide library/information system; by meeting the informational needs of New Hampshire’s state, county and municipal governments and its libraries; and by serving as a resource for New Hampshire.

For more information, visit nh.gov/nhsl.