September is Library Card Sign-up Month—a time when the American Library Association and libraries across the country remind the masses that a library card is the key to limitless opportunities.
Since 1987, Library Card Sign-up Month has been held each September to mark the beginning of the school year. It is a time when the ALA and libraries across the country join together to remind parents, caregivers and students that signing up for a library card is the first step towards academic achievement and lifelong learning. Snoopy, the world-famous beagle from Peanuts, is returning to be this year's Honorary Chair of Library Card Sign-up Month.
Academic, public and school libraries are experiencing a shift in how they are perceived by their communities and society. No longer just places for books, libraries of all types are viewed as anchors, centers for academic life and research and cherished spaces. From offering free technology workshops, small business centers and 24/7 virtual access to e-Books and digital materials, libraries are transforming communities, schools and campuses.
The lack of diverse books for young readers continues to fuel concern. Over the past 12 months the library community has fostered conversations and fueled a groundswell toward activism to address the lack of diversity reflected in children’s literature—both in content and among writers and illustrators. A current analysis of book challenges recorded by ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) from 2001 – 2013, shows that attempts to remove books by authors of color and books with themes about issues concerning communities of color are disproportionately challenged and banned. A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness.
Digital literacy continues to grow as an important library service. Research shows that families are increasing their access to digital media, but they lack the knowledge to use it effectively in a way that enables learning. Makerspaces are trending and provide evidence that libraries are continuing to evolve beyond the traditional focus on collections. Many federal government policy and regulatory issues are of importance to libraries and the people who use them. Policies related to personal privacy, library funding, workforce development, and copyright law are a few of the issues of interest to the library community.
Libraries are not just about what we have for people, but what we do for and with people. Today's survey found that three-quarters of the public say libraries have been effective at helping people learn how to use new technologies. This is buttressed by the ALA's Digital Inclusion Survey, which finds that virtually all libraries provide free public access to computers and the Internet, wi-fi, technology training and robust digital content that supports education, employment, e-government access and more.