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The Best Gift

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The Best Gift

It’s back to school for students across the country, and that means it’s time for the annual release of Beloit College’s Mindset List for incoming freshmen.

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released this List. It highlights the cultural experiences that shape the lives of students entering college this fall.
“The class of 2014 has never found Korean-made cars unusual,” says the compiler, “and five hundred cable channels  have always been the norm. Since "digital" has always been in the cultural DNA, they've never written in cursive and with cell phones to tell them the time, there is no need for a wrist watch. Dirty Harry (who’s that?) is to them a great Hollywood director. The America they have inherited is one of soaring American trade and budget deficits; Russia has presumably never aimed nukes at the United States and China has always posed an economic threat. 
Nonetheless, they plan to enjoy college. The males among them are likely to be a minority. They will be armed with iPhones and BlackBerries, on which making a phone call is one of many, many functions they will perform. They will now be awash with a computerized technology that will not distinguish information and knowledge. So it will be up to their professors to help them.  A generation accustomed to instant access will need to acquire the patience of scholarship. They will discover how to research information in books and journals and not just on-line. The college class of 2014 reminds us, once again, that a generation comes and goes in the blink of our eyes, which are, like the rest of us, getting older and older.”
For adults of a certain age, it can be jarring, to say the least, to realize that kids don’t automatically know some of these things.  Their DNA carries a lot of information, but not this kind.  That leaves a big gap to fill if young people are to be prepared to become competent in their chosen fields and to live full, successful lives.

Filling that gap is made much easier for those who have library cards.  And use them.

A library card is the only ticket you need to travel unlimited miles on journeys all over the world and into the universe.  It is your admission to endless adventures and the password that is your key to trunks of treasure.

A library card is just a piece of laminated paper, but its value is priceless, because it opens a world of possibilities for anyone who puts it to good use.  And best of all, the cost of a library card is – nothing.  A library card is FREE.

It is the best gift you can give your child.

How do you get this priceless present?

Come to the library with your child, who must be at least 5 years old.  Fill out a brief form.  Provide a photo ID for yourself and proof of your current mailing address.

This is very simple.  A photo ID may be a driver’s license, a state-issued ID or work ID.  Proof of address may be the ID or, if the ID doesn’t show address, a printed check, pay stub, bill (electric, telephone, water, doctor, etc.), change of address card from the DMV, voter registration card, rent receipt, Post Office box receipt.

You, as parent or legal guardian, must come to sign for permission for your child to have a card.  A relative or other adult is not in position to accept this responsibility.  The library offers a wide range of hours, daytime, evenings and weekends, when you may visit.

Make this a rite of passage for your preschool child.  Bring him to the library from infancy onward.  Introduce yourself to the staff.  Ask for a tour and the location of picture books for your child.  Read together each day.  Bring your child to weekly storytimes and encourage him to enjoy the social time experiencing books with other children.  Help her choose more books to read together.  See her growing understanding of the delights a library card brings.  Help him look forward to the day when he turns 5 and can have his very own library card!  Make a celebration of that occasion.

Teach your child that with ownership comes responsibility.  Take good care of books.  Return them on time, or renew them if you see you can’t return them by their due date.  Just as travelers must pay a penalty for late return or damage of a rental vehicle, so must borrowers of library books.  These are public property and are provided for use by the community.  When we apply for a library card, we accept that responsibility for protecting and returning public property.

Library staff  know that things happen.  You may not always be able to get library materials back on time.  You may not be able to keep the dog away from your books.  You may not be able to keep a book from falling in the bathwater.  These things do happen.  They do not make you a bad person.  Just acknowledge the facts and accept that there will be a reasonable cost to cover the lateness, damage or loss.  Don’t allow a minor issue to prevent you from continuing to bring your child to the library.  This sort of situation teaches him the invaluable lesson that there are consequences for our actions, that we can deal with them, and that borrowing books and reading and coming to programs is what is most important.

The best gift you can give your child is a library card because kids who read succeed.   September is Library Card Sign Up Month at libraries everywhere, but any time is a good time to get a card and begin the journey of a lifetime.

For more information, call us at 988-2541, or visit us at

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Online collection of animated, talking picture books to encourage reading in children.


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