PROOS: The most valuable school supply: A library card

Getting a quality education is still the most important step toward a rewarding future, and local libraries provide tremendous options for students and residents to access the knowledge they need to succeed.

I encourage all southwest Michigan families to visit the local library to see the wide range of educational resources they provide and pick up the most valuable school supply: a library card.

September is Library Card Sign-up Month, and it’s a good reminder for parents and students that a library card can be a key to a lifetime of learning and high academic achievement.

Today’s libraries are much more than just places to check out books.

Libraries offer a great spot to get work or studying done without distractions, and most libraries offer free or low-cost movies and CD rentals and allow residents to download audio and e-books with their library card. Many libraries also have cool benefits like museum passes, and libraries often offer card holders access to advanced (and expensive) research resources like LexisNexis and the Adobe Creative Suite.

Last year, the governor signed my legislation to open up a world of information and literary materials to thousands of families on both sides of the state border. By having Michigan join the Interstate Library Compact, our residents can now use services offered by over 650 Michigan libraries and by libraries of other states in the compact, like Indiana and Ohio.

The Michigan eLibrary is another great resource for residents. It provides free access to full-text articles and books and other research materials at any time online. It also has an easy-to-use interlibrary loan system. Residents can visit the eLibrary at MEL.org.

Libraries help engage our communities, provide access to the internet and digital information, offer safe havens and activities for kids, and promote reading and creativity.

In this effort, they help improve our state and prepare both current and future generations for success — and it all starts with signing up for a library card.

JOHN PROOS, R-St. Joseph, represents the 21st District, which includes Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties. 

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