RED OAK — Students throughout Ellis County have recently dived back into school, and local libraries are reminding those students and their families that this Friday marks the first day of the 30th annual “September is Library Card Sign-up Month.”

In a nationwide initiative by the American Library Association (ALA) to raise awareness about what public libraries bring to the community table, Red Oak, Ennis, and Waxahachie public libraries are joining in with this year’s season to promote the value of a library card.

“It’s something that most libraries across the United states celebrate,” began Logan Ragsdale, Director of the Red Oak Public Library. “We’re trying to get library cards into the hands of our residents.”

“It’s just one of many initiatives that all libraries have, and people need to be aware that they can discover different resources through us,” he added.

Being one of the most important gadgets in the school supply toolbox, a library card grants access to not only a plethora of knowledge in books, but also high-speed Internet, digital materials, community programs, how-to workshops, resource databases, and much more.

“Everyone should have a library card, and one of the reasons is because you’ll save money,” noted Jenny Graf, Nicholas P. Sims Library’s circulation manager. “On our receipts, you’ll see an average of the transactions, and you’ll see how much you save with every trip.”

“So a basic trip, people save $10 to $20, and people with kids will save anywhere from $50 to $70, so they’re saving by not having to purchase those items themselves. You don’t have to go out and buy all this stuff when you can rent it from us for free,” she expounded.

Assets found within each library are available to those with a library card for free if a local has proof of residency and identification within their respective town.

“All library cards are free if you're a citizen or you live in the city limits of Red Oak. But if you live outside the city limits than our library charges a membership fee of $20 for a year, and that’s a bargain to get access to all of our services,” Ragsdale acknowledged, also noting that every library differs in membership fees.

According to the ALA, the national observance was launched in 1987 to ensure every child obtained a library card and use of it. Since then, thousands of public and school libraries join each fall in a national effort to ensure every child does just that.

“It’s important to get kids learning at a young age, and you’ll see a lot of patrons come in here and say, ‘I remember that as a kid,’ and it is instilled in them and is there for life,” Graf pointed out. “And a library card just makes that all the easier.”

“Libraries also encourage family togetherness. We have family programs for people of all ages, so it doesn’t matter if your six months old or up to 97, we have something for you,” she added.

In a press release from the Red Oak Public Library, it goes on to say that older students and adults can also find tools and resources for success at their local libraries, not only to strengthen literacy skills but to also encourage community unity.

“We’re noticing that people really do need a place to come and study,” confirmed Jessica Diaz, Director of the Ennis Public Library. “We found that they need the atmosphere to get away so they can get into the mode where they actually have to do work – that’s why they come here.”

“We’ve seen an upturn in our computer numbers with the start of the college classes because a lot of students come in and turn in their assignments through our computers,” she included.

From story time to book clubs, study groups, and “asking a librarian,” the support of the library is guaranteed to be an underestimated, but principal means of support offered to locals at no cost.

“We get focused on this time of year with back to school things, and the library card is a perfect tool to go along with that," Diaz emphasized. "That's why this month is so important."

"From college students using the computers for research to high schoolers who might be getting their first assigned reading list, to those little ones who need to work on their literacy so they can meet their guidelines for STAR testing requirements, we can definitely provide something for every student here,” she recognized.

In a place of life-long learning, all three libraries encourage the community to visit and sign up for a card, regardless of age or location.

“We’re small, but we pack a lot of services in our 950 square foot space, and everything is available to the public,” Ragsdale recognized.

“We try to be apart of the community as much as we can, and this is one of the best ways to get to know us and take advantage of our resources,” Diaz added.

“The library is just a cool place to be,” Graf concluded.

To connect with Waxahachie’s Nicholas P. Sims Library, visit simslib.org or call (972)-937-2671.

For more information about the Ennis Public Library, visit ennistx.gov/Library or call (972)-875-5360.

To find out more about the Red Oak Public Library, visit redoaktx.org/206/Library or call (469)-218-1230.

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Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer

(469)-517-1450