It's almost September. The days are getting shorter, school is back in session and backpacks have been filled with pencils, notebooks, scissors, erasers and a surplus of other supplies. Schools have maximized budgets on staffing, supplies, technology, curriculum and countless other resources. Amidst all of the back-to-school purchases from pencils to PCs, there is one item that is available to everyone for free: a library card.

The American Library Association has declared that September is "Library Card Sign-up Month" because it is a good time of year to remind the masses that a library card opens the door to endless opportunities. With costs steadily going up and budgets consistently getting tighter, the benefits of having a library card are essential for parents, students and schools.

Many Delta County School District staff are well aware of the important role that our public libraries play in serving our schools and students. Amy Miller, English teacher for Hotchkiss High School, has already handed out Delta County Library card applications to her students. "While most schools in the district have in-house libraries, we are somewhat limited in the volume of books that can be made available to students," Miller commented. "Therefore, the public library system becomes an important part of our curricular resources." For research, Miller's classes make extensive use of the online databases for scholarly journal articles and other non-fiction sources. Miller also encourages her students to take advantage of the OverDrive application for free downloads of reading materials in e-book and audiobook formats.

On the other side of the spectrum, BELA lead teacher Susanne McCallister values the role that libraries play in her students' lives for other reasons. "The positive relationship a child builds with a librarian opens the door for a child to venture into the area of literacy. Our public libraries support children with a positive climate, emotional support, sensitivity, productivity and instructional support that holds a high regard for a child's perspective." McCallister utilizes the libraries in her classroom by bringing in Hotchkiss library manager Terry Johns, on a regular basis during the school year to lead storytime for the preschool children.

Delta County Libraries have partnered with the schools for a long time to make sure that school staff are aware of and know how to access all of the amazing resources that can support them in the classroom. In the early weeks of a very long school year, it is the hope of Delta County Libraries that all teachers will incorporate having a library card into the curriculum. One way that the libraries have adapted to make this goal more attainable is the introduction of the e-card this year.

Current library policy requires that library card applications for students under the age of 16 have a parent signature. For various reasons, one being the potential for overdue fees, some parents may not grant their child permission to have a card. With an e-card, library patrons of all ages can utilize onsite technology and all of the electronic resources available on the Delta County Libraries website, without the possibility of lost or late books. This new option has made it more feasible for every student, in every school, to have access to a library card.

Lea Hart, district director for Delta County Libraries, commented on the objective for the upcoming month. "We are committed to supporting Delta County youth and schools with easy access to the resources we have available through the libraries. The very first step in achieving this goal is offering library cards as an essential school supply for all students. Working in partnership with Delta County Schools, we hope to make an impact this September during 'Library Card Sign-up Month' by making library card applications available to all staff and students in Delta County."

Get your library card now and encourage others to do the same by visiting the Delta County Libraries website at or by stopping by your local library.

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