SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The American Library Association (ALA) holds its annual Library Card Sign-up Month initiative each September to mark the beginning of the school year and encourage local branches to join the national effort to ensure children throughout the community sign up for their very own card. 

"There is nothing more empowering than signing up for your own library card. Through access to technology, media resources and educational programs, a library card gives students the tools to succeed in the classroom and provides people of all ages opportunities to pursue their dreams and passions," according to the New Jersey Library Association (NJLA). 

Through the month-long initiative, which was launched in 1987, local branches typically encourage patrons of all ages to stop in and get one; cards are free with proof of residency and there is no minimum age requirement, however, parents/guardians must sign for children under the age of 18.  Those who do not feel comfortable visiting the South Plainfield Public Library at this time can also apply online for a temporary card (https://bit.ly/3iShjA8), which is valid for up to three months. 

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According to Director Linda Hansen, both permanent and temporary cards offer patrons access all e-content (books, audio, music, movies, databases) and, at this time, may be used for in-person and/or contactless pick up services

“A library card provides residents with access to thousands of different resources," Hansen said, noting that last year, the South Plainfield Library, through a collaborative effort with South Plainfield Schools, launched a initiative to issue library cards to every second grader in the district. The plan was also for each second grade class to tour the library and get their cards in person, however, due to COVID-19, only Franklin students were able to visit. 

"We would love to see a library card in the hands of every resident in town," she added. 

While in the library, South Plainfield cardholders can access the genealogy database www.Ancestry.com and, from home computers and/or mobile devices, patrons have access to a variety of online services, including but not limited to, Rosetta Stone (language learning software); Peterson’s Testing and Education (practice academic tests for the PSAT, SAT, GMAT, etc.); NovelList (an all ages reader’s advisory); and Universal Class (free 24/7 online non-credit courses for personal enrichment). 

A valid library card also provides South Plainfield patrons to various other free services and resources. Through eLibrary NJ (https://elibrarynj.overdrive.com), patrons can download ebooks and audiobooks and, through Freegal (https://southplainfield.freegalmusic.com/home), cardholders can stream music as well as download free songs and videos weekly. British television shows and movies are available through Acorn TV (https://signup.acorn.tv); Indieflix (https://www.indieflix.com) offers access to indie films; and live concerts can be viewed on Quello(https://qello.com). 

The South Plainfield Library also holds dozens of children’s, tween, teen, and adult programs each month with virtual options currently replacing in-person offerings such as musical performances, story times, cultural events, book clubs, and more. 

"Although it isn't exactly the same as coming into the library, we are trying to make the experience as close to 'normal' as possible," said Hansen, adding, "We are more than just books." 

"New Jersey libraries continue to adapt and expand services to meet the evolving needs of their communities. The outbreak of the coronavirus forced libraries throughout the state to close their buildings, but libraries never stopped supporting their communities," stated NJLA. "Despite being quarantined at home during the outbreak, New Jersey residents with library cards often had access to eBooks, audiobooks, digital magazines, virtual story times, online tutoring resources, and much more."

“Our society is at a critical juncture with regard to the rapidly changing digital landscape and the skills needed to thrive in a physically distant world,” said Patricia Tumulty, executive director of NJLA. “One of the most amazing things about libraries is how they were able to quickly pivot in response to the pandemic to connect to current needs.”

At this time, the South Plainfield Public Library is open for in-person services to those who wish to browse collections, use computers (reservations are recommended), and who may be in need of fax, printing, and coping services. Notary services are also available by appointment only. Patrons seeking recommendations of suitable materials, programs, and resources for various ages and interests and/or help can call (908) 754-7885 to speak with a librarian or email spcurbsidepickup@gmail.com (adult services) or spkidscurbsidepickup@gmail.com (children and teen services). Patrons can also fill out online request forms for kids and for adults.

To receive a free South Plainfield Public Library card, stop by the circulation desk with proof of residency (driver’s license, utility bill, checkbook) during regular hours of operation: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. The library is closed on Sundays until further notice. Visit http://www.southplainfield.lib.nj.us or call (908) 754-7885 for additional information.

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