A library card is a passport to a world of information.

Of course, you can use it to check out books, music and videos (both at the library itself and online) — but libraries offer far more to users.

For people without computers at home or without Internet access, libraries offer both without charge. And not only is there a vast wealth of reference materials available in the library itself, there are reference librarians who can help patrons find answers both in house and on the Web.

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September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month, an effort by libraries across the country to encourage people to obtain that valuable passport. It’s a simple process that yields enormous benefits.

In celebration of the month, the Johnson County Public Library is aiming its efforts to the get the county’s littlest readers their first library cards. The library has begun a Joe Cool-themed push to get all Johnson County kindergartners signed up for their own library cards this school year. The library sent out more than 1,500 applications to schools to get kindergartners signed up. Last year’s drive — aimed at all K-5 students — brought in 2,604 new library card applications.

“This year we added a new program — the library Star Program, where not only are we trying to get them their cards but encouraging them to use them. If they come to the library three times from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 they get a prize each time they come in,” said Jennifer Baltz, marketing and communications manager for the library.

“We want kids to know that their library card is their most important school supply, and it gives you access to all sorts of library resources like library databases and electronics — all free with the library card.”

The library also is pushing to sign up adults with prize drawings. Library staff will be at several upcoming fall festivals such as the Franklin farmers market and the Bargersville Harvest Moon Festival on Saturday. Friends of the Johnson County Public Library will give away books at the events.

Libraries are a valuable community resource, and Johnson County is blessed to have three vibrant systems. If you don’t have a library card, take a moment to visit your local facility and sign up. Your passport awaits.

At issue

Libraries offer a wealth of information resources both in the buildings and online.

Our point

Signing up for a library card will allow people to access much of this information.