The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Editorials

September 10, 2013

One little card

Library most important membership card you can hold

“Library card is most important item for return to school.”

Truer words have not been spoken.

This headline from Monday’s front page sums up the role that libraries can — and should — play in everyone’s lives, especially students.

The library, although a single, solitary building, actually holds the world within its walls in the guise of books, magazines, newspapers, film, music and the World Wide Web. We can think of few things you cannot find at the library.

But so many folks, particularly the children of today’s video-driven world, think the library is a staid, boring, funny-smelling place to be avoided.

Ah, but if they would just engage their imaginations!

That smell is the smell of knowledge crammed into millions of pages of books just waiting for someone to discover what is inside.

Boring can turn into high adventure at the library. One person might look at a technical book to discover how to build a rocket to the moon, while the next one picks it up and imagines a story about how she can be the first person to live there.

As for staid, there are some pretty funny books at the library — and maybe older ones from the 1900s just sound funny to the children of the digital age.

For that digital set, the library’s computers are free to use for research, homework or simple entertainment.

As e-readers become ever-more popular, many may think that the library is obsolete, but not to our way of thinking. There is just “something” about picking up a book — a real thing made out of paper — that can teach us so many things, take us so many places, stir our imaginations and our thinking.

Many are the books that have helped shape our history. A list of them at www.read.gov includes myriad books on myriad topics. The Bible. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” “Charlotte’s Web.” “The Feminine Mystique.” “Little Women.” “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” “Tarzan of the Apes”!

Yes, it’s an eclectic list, but if you think about them and how life in America is today, you can see the influences.

There is a mountain of information available at read.gov, just as there is at your local library.

Visit today and get a card if you don’t have one. It could be the most important thing you do.

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