And every September the role libraries play in the education and development of children is celebrated.
Library Card Sign-Up Month has been observed nationally since 1987 by libraries across the country who team up with the American Library Association to remind parents how crucial the library is to the education of their children.
Studies show young people who are read to in the home and use the library, perform better in school.
"They are comfortable in the environment and most likely will continue to use the library as a source of lifelong learning and opportunity," noted Ann Thompson, children's librarian at the Sikeston Public Library which has approximately 12,000 patrons, 3,500 of which are children. "And children mimic their parents, if a parent shows an interest in books usually so will the child. Books are an opening to the different learning experiences.
"There are parents who bring their children to the library faithfully and we watch them grow to the different sections of the library," Thompson said. "On the other hand there are children who bring their parents to the library when they have classroom visits. They get excited about coming back. One evening a little boy was practically dragging his mother by the hand to the children's department and telling her that his books were on the brown shelves. He had attended a program earlier that day and remembered where the books for his age level were located."
Library Card Sign-Up Month, whose slogan this year is "Get carded @ your library," is designed to encourage individuals to see what's new at the library by signing up for a library card.
"Today's libraries are dynamic, modern community centers for education, information and entertainment," ALA President Mitch Freedman remarked in a recent press release. "And librarians are the ultimate search engine, helping you and your family find what you need for your health, jobs and other needs."
Libraries now feature more than just books, offering its patrons videos, tapes, CDs, magazines and Internet access. Also available is story hour for young patrons and book discussions for adults.
Library cards are generally free to those living in the service area and in most cases borrowing privileges are granted immediately. Locally, the only requirements are that the child be at least age 5 and live in Scott County and in the R-6 School District.
"A library card is a free ticket to discover all the wonderful things a library holds," said Thompson. "Children who don't have a library card are missing out on the wonderful world of reading. Some of the children get so excited over a series of books they have discovered in the library that they can't wait to come back and check out more."