"I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries."
Carl Sagan in "Cosmos"
Life today is very challenging. We're all trying to do more with less.
If you take a moment today to stop and reflect, you know that you're probably working more and spending less. Think about this: The Beaufort County Library System provides our community with resources and services many of us could not afford. Nowhere else in the world can you find:
Beaufort County, like most of the nation, has seen a lot of change in the past few years. In 2007, we were the fastest growing county in South Carolina. Now, we have an unemployment rate of more than 9.5 percent. Our citizens and visitors are looking for resources and information to help them deal with the challenges of economic, educational and personal change.
So what is the role of libraries today? Our county library system is innovative, responsive and makes the most of often limited resources. Our libraries are welcoming places for our people to gather. We serve as a hub for community organizations, networking and support groups, families, friends and neighbors. And, our libraries are exciting places where ideas are exchanged and shared so that we build a new understanding of ourselves and the world.
Collaboration is a big part of what we do at the library system every day. We partner with individuals, organizations, libraries across the state and groups around the globe to bring you programs, materials and access to a world of information.
You can find us throughout the social media world, too. Want to discuss your favorite book or share a remembrance about 9/11? We're on Facebook, Twitter and Blogger so you have a forum to do just that.
We take our programs and information on the road to parks, schools, Rotary and Lions club meetings, outreach events and even local business expos. Our Friends of the Library Groups and Public Library Foundation work together and provide much needed financial support for activities in and out of the library so that our mission to serve and support the community is a mission accomplished. Indeed, we reach out as far as our county and volunteer resources allow us to go to bring those library services to every corner of our community.
Our libraries are more than information, more than technology and more than materials. Don't underestimate how important libraries are to all the residents of our community. They are absolutely essential to our American way of life.
So join the more than 90,000 card holders at the Beaufort County Library System. September is National Library Card Sign-up Month. Just bring proof of residency to get your new card, or if you already have your card and can't find it, come in during September for a free replacement card. Library Card Sign-up Month is a time when libraries across the country remind parents that a library card is the most important school supply of all. Thousands of public and school libraries join together each fall in a national effort to ensure every child signs up for his or her library card.
As we say at the Beaufort County Library system, "We're for learning, for leisure and for life." Most of all, our library system is for everyone.
Sandra Saad is the director of development and marketing for the Beaufort County Library System and serves as the chief development officer for the Public Library Foundation of Beaufort County.