September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month, the perfect time to take your child to sign up for their first library card! In today’s fast-paced digital age, where information is just a click away, it can be too easy for some to overlook the timeless appeal of the library. However, libraries remain an invaluable resource for cultivating a love of reading and learning, especially among children. The simple act of acquiring a library card opens the door to endless possibilities for a child, while establishing the groundwork for a lifelong relationship with an institution where everyone is welcome. 

When children sign up for library cards, they gain access to a treasure trove of books, magazines, e-books, audiobooks, and more. It’s like opening a personal portal to countless adventures, mysteries, and opportunities for independent learning. Furthermore, if you haven’t darkened the door of a library lately, you may not be familiar with all that they offer their patrons beyond “just” reading materials. Your local library may loan out everything from museum passes to camping equipment; just ask your librarian for the details! 

In rural areas, libraries often serve as the heart of their communities, offering key amenities such as free high-speed internet access and printers, and providing a social hub and activities for patrons of all ages. Recognizing both the vital role of small-town libraries and the budgetary challenges many of them face, the Children’s Literacy Foundation (CLiF) created the Rural Library grant, a program designed to support librarians in Vermont and New Hampshire  in building excitement around reading, increasing circulation, and strengthening community relationships.

Since 1998, CLiF has partnered with approximately 90 percent of the libraries located in Twin State towns with populations of 5,000 or less. A common goal of many of the librarians we work with is to update their children’s collections to include a more diverse, equitable and inclusive selection of books. To help librarians realize this goal and others, the Rural Library grant provides each recipient with $2,500 in new children’s books, as well as literacy workshops, storytelling sessions and book giveaway events. (Click here to meet our 2023-2024 Rural Library grant recipients!) CLiF also hosts a free virtual Rural Library Conference to provide profession development for youth librarians in rural communities. This year’s event is coming up on Nov. 3, and we will be sharing more information in the days to come!

Cultivating positive feelings toward the library at an early age goes a long way toward helping children feel comfortable continuing their patronage as they grow up. If you don’t currently frequent the library with your children, September is a great month to give it a try! We guarantee your librarian will be happy to see you. In fact, CLiF’s local librarians at the Waterbury Public Library shared this message: “Stop by, say hello, and get a library card from the Waterbury Public Library!”

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CLiF has served over 350,000 children since 1998.

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