September is Sign Up for a Library Card month with area libraries joining this national campaign, headed by the American Library Association.
Be Local means signing up for a card at a community library that offers opportunities for lifelong learning through books, speakers, programs and clubs. Patrons can also also access digital services wherever they are.
“If you’re not utilizing the library, you don’t often know of the services that are available with your library card,’’ said Kathy McClure, director of Eva K. Bowlby Public Library in Waynesburg.
That includes WAGGIN, a consortium of public libraries in Fayette, Greene and Washington Counties that work together to provide patrons access to books, movies, e-books and internet classes.
McClure noted WAGGIN allows local residents quicker access to borrowed materials not in a patron’s home library. They can place holds on books from their computer, tablet or phone.
WAGGIN offers ebooks with such popular authors as Stephen King, John Grisham, George R.R. Martin and Michelle Obama.
Gale courses, available to library card holders at no cost, feature classes in subjects such as business, college readiness, computer applications, healthcare, personal enrichment and technology.
“It’s an absolute fabulous service, and we want people to learn about it,’’ said Christy Fusco, director of Uniontown Public Library. “You can sharpen your job skills or find a new hobby. You can do this from home – from anywhere.’’
The librarians mentioned sites featured on their library websites that can be accessed with a library card.
McClure talked about Ancestry.com, a genealogy service, and Freegal, a music streaming service.
Fusco explained Power Library Resources include Chat with a Librarian, who provides reference information any time of day or night, including access to information that might otherwise cost a fee, such as car manuals.
“Not only homework or research questions, but how can I check on the value of my car? You might have questions on a health diagnosis,’’ said Fusco, noting the quality of the information provided. “If you’re looking to make an important decision, you want the best information.’’
Both Fusco and McClure said patrons still like to visit libraries where they can find recreational and education programs for all ages.
McClure said Bowlby offers after-school tutoring as well as preparation for GED and SAT testing.
Fusco said Uniontown has offered the public access to computers for 20 years and Wi-Fi for 10 years.
“We have more people using our Wi-Fi than computers and a lot of people are using our computers,’’ said Fusco, noting, “We’re trying to support people as they invest in more technology at the same time we offer traditional services.’’
Libraries host special events and continue to be meeting places for clubs and groups that provide services to communities.
“We just feel if people would take advantage of these resources so close to home,’’ said Fusco, “it would have an impact on the quality of their life.’’
So as the school year begins, make use of that library card. And those who don’t have a library card are invited to stop by and sign up for one.
Those interested in joining the Be Local Network can call 724-425-7515 or email email@example.com. Discount cards are available at the Herald-Standard, 8 E. Church St., Uniontown, and at the Greene County Messenger, 32 Church St., Waynesburg.