Dr. Christina Greer (115266)
Dr. Christina Greer

I recently found out that September is National Library Card Sign Up Month. There seems to be a month to celebrate almost anything, but signing up for a library card is definitely worth the recognition and celebration.

In so many ways, librarians are often the unsung heroes of a community. They help unlock children’s imaginations and they are a wealth of knowledge for people looking to advance themselves or merely explore a topic of interest. And most importantly, for many, they are the first people to introduce the love of reading to so many young people.

Recently, with the nonsensical debates over Critical Race Theory and right-wing legislators banning books in schools and libraries across the country, supporting our library systems and diligent librarians is more important than ever. 

The New York Public Library (NYPL) system has an extensive network of branches and it is relatively easy to sign up for a library card. They state, “NYPL library cards are available free for anyone who lives, works, attends school, or pays property taxes in New York State.” If someone is interested in applying for a library card they must complete and sign an application form and return it to a Circulation Desk at any NYPL location. In order to process your application you must also bring with you a New York State ID or other approved documentation from the list on their website at www.nypl.org/librarycard. 

As states across the country have begun banning books in schools, public libraries have become a beacon for those interested in learning about race, gender and sexuality, American history, and so much more. The Brooklyn Public Library has even taken the bold step to make, for a limited time, a free eCard to any person aged 13 to 21 across the United States. This generous counterattack to the rising tide of conservative closed politics will allow young people free access to 500,000 digital books, including many censored books.

If you know a young person interested in applying to receive a free eCard, encourage them to go to Brooklyn Library’s Books Unbanned website at www.bklynlibrary.org/books-unbanned to learn more or they can email booksunbanned@bklynlibrary.org to inquire and apply. You can also donate money once on the website to help the library continue their support for teens across the country.

Hopefully our readers have fond memories of their public library growing up. If not, hopefully you will use this time to help support public libraries across the country so they can continue to provide services for a new generation of young people. And if you have not done so, be sure to sign up for a library card this September. As my childhood librarian would always say, “Books are our friends.” Indeed, they are, and a library card is a passport to many new worlds.

Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC and host of The Blackest Questions podcast. 

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