The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library is teaming up with eight other library systems Cuyahoga County to help ensure every child under 18 in Cuyahoga County owns a library card.
The initiative, called A Card for Every Kid will take place September 1-30 to coincide with National Library Card Sign Up Month. It is a cooperative effort among the library systems to raise awareness of the importance of library card ownership for children and teens. The initiative also seeks to gain a better understanding of the roadblocks that keep some children and teens from owning a library card.
“Libraries are great equalizers. They offer any child access to books and other learning resources no matter what city they live in, no matter their socio-economic status,” says Heights Libraries Director Nancy Levin. “Every public library in our county shares the goal of ensuring that every child can check out materials at their neighborhood library.”
During September, every library in the county will actively encourage children and teens to sign up for a free library card, and offer one-time fine forgiveness to children and teens who have been blocked or barred from using their library cards because they owe fines.
Additionally, each library system will invite parents to take a brief survey to gain a better understanding of parental attitudes toward library card ownership for their children.
“A surprising number of kids in our communities don’t have their own library cards, and we want to better understand why,” says Levin. “For instance, out of the approximately 12,000 residents under the age of 18 in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights community in 2014, roughly 6,700 had a library card. Is it because the parent didn’t know their child could have their own card? Is it because the child doesn’t want one? Are there other factors? Knowing this information will help us be more effective in our outreach to our families.”
The A Card for Every Kid initiative was developed in response to the Obama administration’s national ConnectED Library Challenge. Launched in spring 2015, ConnectED calls upon library directors to work with their mayors, school leaders, and school librarians, to ensure every student has access to the learning resources and books of America’s libraries.
The library systems participating in the A Card for Every Kid initiative include Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library, Cleveland Public Library, Cuyahoga County Public Library, East Cleveland Public Library, Euclid Public Library, Lakewood Public Library, Rocky River Public Library, Shaker Heights Public Library, and Westlake Public Library.
For more information about the A Card for Every Kid initiative, visit http://heightslibrary.org/signup_month/.