Transform Your School Year, Sign-up With a Library Card!

The value of today’s libraries goes beyond books.  Librarians are leaders in their communities – helping people of any age to find what they need to help improve their quality of life.  This September, the 47 member libraries of the Ramapo Catskill Library System (RCLS) are joining with the American Library Association and libraries nationwide for Library Card Sign-up Month, an initiative to make sure that every student has the most important school supply of all – a free library card.

“A library card opens doors and minds,” said Robert Hubsher, RCLS Executive Director.  “No other card in your wallet gives you free access to books, CDs, magazines and DVDs at your library and opens up the digital world to you with free access to downloadable e-books, audiobooks, music, movies and magazine articles. Your library card also provides you access to all kinds of library programs from book clubs to craft programs. What better place is there to explore and develop new interests than at the library?”

Libraries build a foundation for children’s future success starting from the earliest stages of development.  Librarians play a key role in helping children develop the basic tools for school readiness by teaching families the components of early literacy.  As of 2014, children’s programs accounted for nearly two thirds of library programming in the United States, with more than 2.3 million children’s programs nationwide.  Older students can also find tools for success at their local libraries, where they can access high-speed internet and digital tools, as well as working with trained professionals on how best to use these resources.

As new technologies evolve, libraries continue to lead the way in providing equity of access to digital tools and media, which has become increasingly important in high-poverty areas where students are less likely to have a computer or internet service at home.  All the public libraries within the RCLS service area offer public access to the internet and will help you learn to use this valuable tool.  Close to 90 percent of libraries offer digital literacy training to help students of all ages navigate today’s changing world; many also offer high-tech innovations like laser cutters and 3D printers, providing hands-on opportunities for creative exploration.

Libraries provide access and programs for students of all ages.  For preschool age children they offer early literacy and storytimes to encourage school readiness, for older children and teens there is supplemental education with hands-on science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) programs, and for nontraditional students libraries offer GED resources.

There’s really something for everyone, and it’s all free with a library card.

Observed since 1987, Library Card Sign-up Month is a time when the Ramapo Catskill Library System and librarians across the Hudson Valley and Catskills regions remind parents that a library card is the most important school supply a child can have.  Libraries play an important role in the development of children and signing up for a library card is the first step towards academic achievement and lifelong learning.

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 become lifelong readers and continue to use the library as a source of information throughout their lives.  It is no wonder that 84% of Americans agree that the public library is important to education.

With a library card, patrons can check out so much more than books.  No longer just repositories for printed materials, today’s libraries are serving as tech hubs, community centers and DIY spaces that are more about connecting and plugging in.

“Today’s libraries come with an expert in developing original programs and honing new skills – a librarian.  Librarians are the ultimate search engines,” explains Robert Hubsher.  “Librarians provide guided training in digital media and help grow digital literacy skills.  Libraries also provide equity of access to digital tools and media, which has become increasingly important in high-poverty areas where students are less likely to have a computer or internet access in the home.  If you need help finding information, visit your public library.”

Library cards are free to those living in the library’s service area.  In most cases, borrowing privileges are granted on the spot based on providing some form of identification, proof of residency or the signature of a guardian.

When you cannot get to the library, let it come to you.  Call for answers by phone.  If you have a computer and internet access, you can connect to the website of your local library.

Today, you can even download audiobooks, videos and e-books to your computer or personal media device. provides a link to all member libraries and their branches 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  From your home or office, you are able to reserve and renew items online; a valid library card number is all that is required for access.

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