Library Card Sign-Up Month

American author Lilian Jackson Braun once said, “A library card is the start of a lifelong adventure.” Libraries are places full of endless resources and opportunities for you and your community. And it all starts with a library card! 

What is Library Card Sign-Up Month? 

Every September, the American Library Association as well as libraries all over the country work together to throw Library Card Sign-Up Month. Strategically held at the beginning of the school year, September is used to help encourage all children to get their own library card. This initiative is a gentle reminder to parents, guardians, and caregivers about the lifelong benefits that a library card can offer to their children.  

What are the benefits of a library card? 

Aside from one of the biggest and most obvious benefits – access to countless books- there are many other perks of having a library card. With a library card, you can access movies, music, magazines, and online databases. When you get a library card, you’ll get access to free audiobooks with apps like Libby. Many public libraries have access to technologies such as Rosetta Stone and Living Language to help you learn a new language. Many museum tickets and passes can be purchased at a discount with a library card. There is so much more to having a library card than checking out books. Libraries also offer you a space to get work done, free WiFi, and a plethora of programs for community members. Check out your local library to see what other resources are available to you.  

Did you know that when you sign up for a library card, you also benefit your local library? When it comes to funding, for many public libraries, usage and circulation from the community is factored in. By having your own library card, you can help your local library expand and flourish.  

Are library cards free? 

One of the most commonly asked questions about libraries is if it is free to have a library card. The answer is yes! A library card is completely free for you and your family members. Libraries are funded by taxes and therefore paid for by the public. Because of this, they are free and accessible to all community members.  

Can my library card expire?  

Yes, your library card can expire. It varies from state to state, but usually libraries cards expire every few years. Don’t worry! You won’t miss out on any of the benefits, you can simply stop by your local branch or go online to renew your card. Library cards expire every so often to ensure the library’s information about their members is current and accurate. Renewing your card is as simple as confirming your cell phone number and current address. If you haven’t been to the library in a while, and your card is likely expired, now is a great time to pay a visit and to get your membership up-to-date.  

Who is eligible for a library card?  

The age requirements for a card vary by state and library, but usually children are eligible for their very own library cards when they are just a few days old. For anyone under 18, a parent’s signature is usually required to get a library card. For adults, often two forms of identification and proof of local residency are all you need to get a library card. To learn the specific requirements for a card at your local library, simply visit the location’s website or give them a call.  

What is the history of library cards? 

Initially, library cards were unnecessary because libraries didn’t lend materials and books weren’t being circulated. As libraries grew and became more popular in the 19th century, particularly with the Public Library Movement, membership cards became a necessity. There were a few different systems for monitoring who was borrowing books before libraries adopted one that actually stuck. Initially, cards were not for individual membership, but instead served as logs for when books were borrowed and returned. Eventually an electric card tracking system using a metal plate was created . This matched specific plates and number to borrowers identities, working more like the library cards that we know today. 

You can read a more thorough history of library cards on the ALA website.  


If you are thinking about getting a library card for yourself or a family member, there is no better time than the present! Your library card comes with endless opportunities and resources. Happy Library Card Sign-up Month!