National Library Card Month

Shopping for Back-to-School Supplies? Don’t Forget a Library Card!
Posted on 09/01/2022
City Councilor Nathan Weller checks out books

September is national Library Card Sign-Up Month. Do you have an account? Whether you have kids heading to school or if you yourself are packing a backpack or briefcase for the fall, a library card is the cheapest and most powerful tool you can add to your array of office or school supplies; a passport to resources, entertainment, and education.

On the corner of Grand Avenue and Olson Street in Pullman, only a block from the cafes and shops on Main, Neill Public Library is an accessible, welcoming gathering place. People of all ages find refuge from the weather, comfortable seating, and judgement-free access to a collection of print and digital media. Daycares and school classes visit regularly throughout the year, and home-schoolers and tutors set up makeshift workspaces at tables both inside the library and outside on the patio. Parents pushing strollers and trailing toddlers connect with a network of families, attend story times, and check out almost limitless piles of board books, picture books, and recipe books full of quick dinner ideas. Teens and tweens head to the library after school to meet up with friends and access public computers. International students use the fax machine and scanner to transmit important legal documents, and seniors get information about Medicare. From the moment the doors of the library open in the morning until they are locked again in the evening, the flow of people continues. No other place but a library can provide such a breadth of services to such a diverse spectrum of people. And it’s all free.

Nathan Weller, life-long resident of Pullman, and current City Councilmember, has fond childhood memories of visiting Neill Public Library with his mother. He stopped by the library recently to share his story – and pick up a few books and movies.

City Councilor Weller and the Neill Public Library centennial timelineCity Councilor Weller browses new DVDs

When you step into a library, you can travel across time and space, meet someone new or learn a valuable skill, all while imagining a forgotten land or yet-to-be-discovered world. The only cost is time, and the only requirement an open mind. The knowledge revolution started with libraries of written and printed material, but these days, a library is made up of more than books: It’s a community hub with compelling speakers, engaging events, the newest technology and a wide array of non-print materials to borrow. With a free membership, you get access to an inside scoop on new events and opportunities, as well as a treasure trove of unique resources, including online movies, documentaries, e-books and more. At the library you can grow and go more than you imagine!

Whether overseas or just the next city over, I always search out the local library and used book stores on the hunt for that book or movie that might give me my next “aha!” moment or lead to some new piece of information. I attribute this to the deep appreciation for books and libraries that my mom cultivated in me. Even before I was born, she read to me, searching the catalog at Neill Public Library for classics like Goodnight Moon and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. As my brother and I grew, Mom became the listener while Keith and I chose the books and read aloud. One of the very first titles I picked out was The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer. I was always into history and sci-fi, and my brother was a Sherlock Holmes fan.

My affinity for libraries has remained a constant throughout my life, but has evolved as I’ve shifted from attending story times and after-school programs to serving my community as an adult and developing a deeper understanding of what the library has to offer. In elementary school, I would search out a quiet corner and settle in to read a newly-discovered treasure that provided a temporary escape from bullies, crowded halls and anxiety. As I got older, I began borrowing books on religion and philosophy to better understand how other people viewed the world. The book Meditations by Marcus Aurelius provided particularly invaluable advice during my most difficult times, and I later donated a copy of it to Neill Public Library. After returning from an internship at NASA, I donated another book - this one on the aerodynamics of flight. I also got involved in volunteering, in my role as a Pullman City Councilmember. On visits to the library these days, I’m most often checking out obscure titles that I’ve come across on the shelves, or borrowing the newest movies on DVD. I’ve also had the opportunity to try some of the free programs, such as a virtual reality demonstration, where I “swam” in prehistoric waters and “hiked” Mt. Everest. Even away from the brick-and-mortar library building, I check out digital audiobooks through the free Libby app to listen to while at the gym or on the road.

Thank you for taking the time to share my story. I encourage you to take the first step on your own library journey, and register for a card today. May your experience provide both as much of a safe space and as many opportunities for adventure as mine has at Neill Public Library.

City Councilor Weller and a library bookCity Councilor Weller holds up a prop library card

The American Library Association affirms and promotes the idea that every person, regardless of age, ability, identity, or socio-economic status, has a right to access library materials. Neill Public Library shares those values: anyone can have a library card. There is no requirement to be a Pullman resident, there is no minimum age, and there is no cost. All that is needed to bring in is a photo ID, proof of current mailing address, wherever that may be, and for those who are under eighteen years old, a parent or legal guardian. As an extra bonus, every person who opens a new account during the month of September will receive a prize and be automatically entered to win one of three grand prizes. We look forward to introducing you and your family to all that the library has to offer, and share Nathan’s hope that it’s the beginning of a rewarding, life-long journey.