September is Library Card Sign-Up Month. I know many people are flocking to the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library to snag one of the coveted Jay-Z library cards and experience the extensive collection of memorabilia on display. Whether you are waiting to receive one of the HOV library cards or a more traditional one, you’ll be happy to know that the library cards come in several designs and prints, and are truly your passport to new worlds and adventures, so be sure to head to your nearest library and sign up for a card.
Getting a library card gives you access to not just the millions of books available, but e-books and audio books, research materials, CDs and DVDs, and so much more. The New York Public Library (NYPL consists of the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island systems), Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Public Library systems have current bestselling novels, books for children of all ages, and resources for those who have special accessibility needs.
Many people can be intimidated when first signing up for a library card, but I have found the help desks at branches large and small to be incredibly helpful. A library card is free for anyone who lives, works, attends school, or pays property taxes in New York State. When you go to your local branch, you must provide a NY State ID or other approved documentation, such as a current college or university photo ID card, employee photo ID card, New York City welfare ID card, Armed Services ID card, passport, Medicare/Medicaid card, driver’s license, or an Alien Registration photo ID card; or a Social Security card or birth certificate, to name just a few.
A complete list of acceptable identification can be found on their website along with the application. Go to www.nypl.org/librarycard, www.bklynlibrary.org, or www.queenslibrary.org to get started and find out more information.
These three networks of libraries are true gems sprinkled throughout all five boroughs. I have fond memories of sitting on a carpet square at my local library branch in Philadelphia, discovering a new book, and being transported to a new and sometimes magical land. Libraries are places where we go to discover more about the world and ourselves. They are a safe haven for so many people who are curious, helping them to find their tribe of like-minded spirits who believe in the power of words.
If you do not already have a library card, walk into your nearest branch and inquire about an application. As my childhood librarian used to say, “Books are your friends!” They hold surprises, they keep secrets, and they accept you for who you are.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University; author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream”; co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC and host of the Blackest Questions podcast at TheGrio; and a 2023–24 Moynihan Public Scholars Fellow at CCNY.