Every day, students come to the library to do their homework, check out books and use the internet for school work. Studies show that children who are read to in the home and who use the library perform better in school and are more likely to continue to use the library as a source of lifetime learning.
In Baltimore, the librarians and staff of the Enoch Pratt Free Library system are striving to provide extra support to children and teens. Librarians are the ultimate search engine. We were around before Google or Yahoo. But to access many resources including important databases, students need a library card. And unfortunately not every student in Baltimore has one.
Library cards are the key to learning. It’s been called “the smartest school supply a child needs.” You know what a library card can basically provide: books, DVDs, music , research materials, periodicals, etc. But in this ever changing digital age, the library card has opened up a new world for children and teens. The “smart card” allows students to access ebooks, electronic databases, podcasts and special collections from anywhere. From their bedroom to the study room, the library can come to them with the information they need anytime they need it. According to the U.S. Department of Education, about 30 percent of all students do not have home access to the Internet, so for these students having a library card is an important part of their potential success.
For several years now, the Pratt Library has been working with the Baltimore City School system to register all 9th graders with a library card. Why 9th graders? It has been recognized that at this level of their education students are confronting harder subjects. It is also a crucial time leading to college. So far this school year alone, the Pratt Library has registered more than 2,000 Baltimore 9th graders who still didn’t have a library card. Pratt staff members are going to schools, working with teachers, to register more.
I still remember my first library card; it got quite a workout and had to be replaced several times. The value of a library card is immeasurable. It provides resources and information that a child needs to succeed in school and in life. So this 2015, if your son, daughter, grandchild, nephew, niece, godchild, are cardless, get them carded!
Dr. Carla Hayden is CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.