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Almost every week, he went to the Putnam County Library.  As an infant in a sling across his mother’s body, then as a toddler he rode in a stroller, and later he walked and held hands.  His older brother and sisters showed their library cards and carried home armloads of books.  His mother helped him choose a few books. 

            And then Micah turned 5.  It was finally his turn to his sign his name and promise to take care of the books checked out on his very own card.  What a celebration!  His name on a plastic card meant he took home 20 books for two weeks.  When he returned them, he could get 20 different books. 

            September is Library Card Sign-Up Month, and the American Library Association and the Putnam County Library remind parents that the most important school supply is a library card.  Because a public library has always been part of my life, I can’t imagine not having access to the many books and resources that fill library shelves.     

            Any child age 5 or older can apply for a card at the Putnam County Library.  The child must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who signs the application and who can show a valid photo ID and proof of residency. There is no charge for library cards to Putnam County residents.  An out-of-county adult pays a $10 fee, but a child who lives out of county can have a free card.

            I’m reminded of a conversation with a retired librarian.  She and I stood opposite each other holding a metal bar, both doing leg lifts as part of physical therapy for knee replacements.  Her whisper voice, her kind eyes, and her short statue helped me immediately place her behind the counter of the Putnam County Library.  She wouldn’t know me, I thought.

            “I remember you from the library when I took my children, many years ago.  Thank you for helping us find books,” I said.

            “I remember you,” she said.  “You had a girl and a boy and they brought their books back on time and they were quiet.”  Oh, I was thankful that’s the way she remembered my children.  We reminisced about the days when a visit to the library was to only check out books.  “There’s much more at the library now.  Computers, magazines, movies, music,” she said.

We talked about the many clubs and special programs available at the library.  “There’s a summer reading program for kids that my grandchildren like.” I said. “And young kids don’t need a library card to go to weekly story time and preschool craft time.”

            “You’ve got to get kids to the library young so it becomes a habit,” she said.  “I wish everybody would take their children to the library.  Then read books to them at home, too.”  I agreed.

            And I wish every child felt the excitement my young Grand did when he held his library card for the first time and his feeling of pride every time he carries home his stack of books. 

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