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Library card is the key to services

Q: Why should I get a library card?

A: A simple answer could be, “Why not?”

Never before has the public library offered so many services.

Today’s library is no longer just a source for reading materials for knowledge or pleasure. Your library card entitles you to many other services, such as checking out DVDs of the latest available movies, classics or self-help programs.

Your library card also gives you access to digital services that allow you to read a wide variety of magazines. You can download eBooks and audio books of bestselling and popular content on your desktop or mobile device, or research genealogy to your heart’s content.

Looking forward to taking your driver’s license test? Practice tests are available at the library.

No Wi-Fi at home? You can hook up at the library.

No computer at home? You can use one at the library. If you’re visiting in the area but don’t have a library card, you can still use a computer by showing an ID card.

For a small fee, you can make copies yourself, print out from a computer, send or receive faxes, scan to email, download to a USB drive or even buy a USB drive, if they’re available.

Best of all, library cards are free, but if you lose yours, a replacement will cost you $2.

All you need to get a card is a valid Mississippi driver’s license or ID card with your address or a Social Security card plus a piece of mail, like a bill or invoice, postmarked within the past 30 days. (Junk mail and personal mail don’t count.)

Children as young as 6 can get a library card. For children under age 18, a parent or legal guardian must show identification and fill out a registration card.

An online catalog allows you to pick out titles you’d like to check out, and the library can hold them so you can pick them up. You can also see titles available at nearby county libraries and at all 12 libraries in the Longleaf Library Consortium. If a book you want is at a different library, you can ask that it be sent to your library to hold for you.

Some books and DVDs automatically renew. You can choose whether to be reminded of when to return your items by email or text message. Or you can check your library account online.

Libraries are seeing more older people come in to use computers, though many of them don’t have any experience using a computer, said Kasie Beth Brown, a librarian with the Lincoln-Lawrence-Franklin Regional Library System. Brown is the head librarian at the Lincoln County Public Library in Brookhaven.

Social Security and other government agencies are sending more and more people to the library to fill out forms if they don’t have a computer at home, Brown said.

“We can’t fill out forms for people, but we can give them basic instructions on how to use a computer,” she said. “We try to encourage people unfamiliar with using computers to bring a family or friend who is more comfortable using a computer to help them with their forms.”

The annual summer reading program usually draws in more people, particularly children. More than 1,800 people visited regional libraries during this past summer reading program, Brown said.

The library system handled more than 78,000 check-outs in the past year.

So, is it really worth having a library card? Thousands of people would say so.

Since September 2018, Lincoln-Lawrence-Frankin Public Library members have saved nearly $1.6 million using the library, Brown said. That includes the check-outs of books, audio books, DVDs and CDs.

Now is a good time to get a library card, Brown said. September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month.

Second grade students will be visiting the library this week to do just that. Brown said classes of second graders visit each year over several days each September where they learn about the library, get an application for their own card if they don’t have one and receive a goodie bag to take home.

Story by Robin Eyman