A Back to School Essential … the Library Card


By Jimmie Epling, Director, Darlington County Library System

Summer came to an end for all school children last weekend. In preparation, you got all the school supplies your child needed to get off to a good start for the new school year. Right? Let’s have a quick look at some of what is on that list….

• Pencils – #2, multi colors, and NO mechanical
• Markers – Washable, in party colors and highlighter
• Glue – Stick and bottled
• Pens – Red, blue, and some in Sharpie style
• Scissors
• Notebooks – spiral and non-spiral
Just in case you do not have a child in the DCSD and want to see what is on the lists, check it out at http://www.darlington.k12.wi.us/elem-ms/supplieslist.cfm

You were able to find all the items on the list I am sure. There is one item that is not on every “back to school list” that every student should have going into the new school year, a Library Card from the Darlington County Library System.

Sometimes the recommendation to parents to get a library card for their child gets buried among the pencils, markers, glue, and Kleenex. It was not on this year’s school supplies list. With this in mind, let me suggest you add one more thing to your “back to school” task list, a library card.

Why does your child need a library card? The Darlington County Library can play an important role in the education and development of your child. Children who are encouraged to use a library perform better in school and in life! They become successful because they can read. The ability to read is a vital key to unlocking a future of unlimited possibilities for a child.

The schools do a great job in preparing children, but even the resources of the best schools cannot provide everything. The Library offers children more opportunities to find something that will interest them and tempt them to read than any school library. The wealth of free resources you will find at our four locations, Darlington, Hartsville, Lamar, and Society Hill, can unleash your child’s mind and help him or her to reach their full potential. All your child needs for full access is a library card.

What will you find for your child at the Library?

The Library offers your child access to tens of thousands of books, in both print and electronic form, far beyond what may be found on a classroom shelf or in a school library. There are also thousands of audio-books available on CD or online. We have all the popular tales and stories children and young adults want to read, including manga, and those that appear on our local schools’ required reading lists.

The Library’s staff can help find materials to complete homework assignments, teach you and your child how to select and use a database for a research project, or recommend an interesting read for a book report. The Library is open during the evenings and on weekends to help when the school library is closed. Those with a Darlington County Library card can do research online 24/7 through databases available through DISCUS, Digital Information for South Carolina Users, that can be found by going to the Library website at www.darlington-lib.org. There are literally millions of articles, books, maps, and illustrations available through the magazines, professional journals, newspapers, encyclopedias, and reference materials to be found in DISCUS. When doing research, a DISCUS search is by far better because a Google search will retrieve lots of irrelevant, commercial, questionable, and poor-quality results, such as Wikipedia, which are oft times not accepted by teachers.

We know about 30% of all students do not have home access to the Internet, according to the Department’s National Center for Education Statistics. If you do not have access to a computer or the Internet at home, a library card will give your child that access for free. Each location of the Library is a hot spot for free Internet access and public computers to use for research, report writing, and insight into the world. For the past two years, all four locations have served as Accelerated Reader testing sites in partnership with the Darlington County School District.

The Library is also the place for your child to visit for great programs and to make friends. This past year, a total of nearly 9,600 children attended over 460 free children’s programs we offered. These programs included storytelling, music, arts and crafts, sign language, special speakers, and entertaining performers for children. Our summer reading program, which we sponsor to encourage children to continue reading during their vacation to prevent the dreaded “summer slide” in their reading skills, successfully wrapped up a week ago.

Lastly, keep in mind, the Library is the community’s education support center for students of all ages. It is the one place where parents and caregivers can conveniently visit to find what their children will enjoy reading and experiencing at no cost. All that is needed to borrow something is a library card. Reading is a child’s key to success. What you and your child will find at the Darlington County Library System with their very own library card will spark the imagination, inspire an action, and change their life and the world. That’s not going to happen with a #2 pencil or a glue stick.

Author: Duane Childers

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