The Life-Changing Power of a Library Card

How one tiny card can make a difference

Most can probably relate to going through a difficult patch in life. That could mean financial struggles, loss of a job, mental health conditions, or anything that leaves you feeling anxious about your future.

Where did you turn? Did you have a trusted friend or family member that could help you? Did you reach out to professionals such as a doctor or a therapist?

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We all respond differently to life stressors, leading us down drastically different paths. If you ever feel that you have no one to help support you through bumps in the road, remember you can always rely on your local library.

Signing up for a library card can help change the trajectory of your life. Keep reading to learn how this tiny card helped one woman overcome job loss and homelessness, while it helped another man ditch the bad crowd he was hanging out with as a teen and choose a productive life path. If your income has taken a hit, you’ll also find out how a library card can unlock a world of benefits that cost you nothing more than your time. Behold the life-changing power of a library card…

It can help you make better life choices

Military veteran Michael Davis Jr. testifies that carrying a library card drastically changed the direction of his life. While hanging out with a group of friends in his neighborhood in Harlem, New York, they were approached by police officers and searched. The officers found a bag of marijuana on one of his friends, and as they proceeded to put handcuffs on each of the young men in the group, they paused when they noticed the library card in Davis’s wallet. To his surprise, they let him go, despite arresting each of his friends.

That day, Davis knew he had to change his life if he wanted to avoid that path. Shortly after that incident, he joined the army, enjoyed a fulfilling career, and now serves in the Maryland National Guard. He credits his library card with helping him choose a better life.

It can help you through rough times

Libraries have long been known as welcoming places for people who are homeless or have no place else to go. They have air conditioning and heating, they are safe, nobody will tell you that you have to purchase something to hang out there, and they generally provide a positive, relaxing environment. But it’s not just about offering a comfortable, accessible location for people in need. Libraries also connect people with social services to help them get back on their feet.

A chronic illness left Detroit resident Disa Bryant out of a job and unable to keep up with her property taxes. Upon foreclosure of her home, she moved in with her sister but spent most of her time at her local library with her daughter. As would be expected, she felt lost and depressed about her situation, but being at the library comforted her and felt “like being with family.” Not only was she welcomed at the library, but she was referred to a housing program that connected her with a temporary shelter than a rental house for her and her daughter. And the benefits didn’t stop there. Bryant was able to advance her education and find a better job using the library’s resources.

It can reduce the stress of your commute

Let’s face it — commuting can be downright stressful. While many people have shifted to remote work, plenty is still making the daily trek to an office or other facility. Of course, there should be some level of gratitude for having a job to commute to, but we shouldn’t downplay the effects of chronic stress on your overall health and happiness. Research has found a strong correlation between commuting and decline in mental and physical health, especially via vehicle or public transportation.

Switching up from the morning news, talk radio, or tunes to an audiobook can make your drive more pleasant and alleviate some of the commuter stress. While it can’t eliminate rush-hour traffic, at least it can make your time on the road more entertaining or educational, depending on your audiobook of choice. Audiobooks are available at your library on CD or via digital download through services like Hoopla.

It can help you live on a tight budget

This benefit is more essential now than ever with so many people out of jobs or taking a cut in hours or pay — One of the most significant ways a library card can change your life is by saving you money. And this goes for more than just books. Even if you aren’t an avid reader of print books, the library offers so much more at no cost.

When you take advantage of your library’s audiobook collection, there is no need to dish out monthly for an Audible subscription. You can also cancel your magazine subscriptions since libraries offer an array of magazines, both digital and print.

You may be able to cut your cable television costs when you borrow your favorite movies or TV shows on DVD or through your library’s digital resources. Perhaps you’ve already cut the cord with cable and use streaming services like Netflix instead? Those cost money too! Your library card is the ultimate key to budget-friendly entertainment.

If you’re a fan of lifelong learning and enjoy online courses, you can utilize your library’s online learning databases free of charge. Some library databases feature resources for job searching and interviewing, so you can move on to bigger and better opportunities.

If times are tough and you need to cut back on your monthly expenses, you can also take advantage of the library’s computers and Wi-Fi to eliminate your internet costs or tide you over until you can afford to replace your laptop or internet service.

One Small Library Card, One Major Impact

For some people, pay cuts combined with inflation have strained their budgets to the max. Working remotely has led some to feel isolated and possibly lonely or depressed. In these times, the library can be one of the best places to go to improve the quality of life for yourself and your family. Now may be the time to discover all the magic a library card has to offer. And the best thing about it? It’s free.