Column: This Savannah network of friendships can last a lifetime – Savannah Morning News

Since 1987, communities across America have celebrated Library Card Sign-up Month in September. So, I challenge you to give this question some thought: Where can your library card take you? As a lover of libraries, I would like to share my story as a lifelong library card holder.  
As a child, my family relocated several times to different parts of the country. When we began navigating an unfamiliar area, the first place my mom would take me and my siblings was the local public library. No matter where we moved, the public library was there to provide hundreds of books at our fingertips, and it also offered a connection to our new community and a network of friendships — with stories and people — that have lasted a lifetime.
It was at the library where I found the book that turned me into a true reader, and it is still my favorite. “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White is a story that exemplifies tremendous friendship between three unlikely characters.
So, where else did my library card take me? In my first year of undergraduate studies, I was hired by the county library that I had visited off-and-on since first grade. More than 20 years later, I am fortunate to still work in a profession that I love, serving people from all walks of life in our community libraries. 
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My library card has not only led me to find great books, but it has taken me on a career path with a purpose, connecting individuals with information and ideas. And along the way, I have discovered friendships, like Charlotte and Wilbur, that I hold dear to my heart. 
While I will always remain nostalgic about libraries, I am also proud of what libraries have become today and what they represent for the future. Libraries have transformed at an incredible pace over the years to support the growing needs of communities and sustain the constant changes in technology and forms of education.  
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More than simply buildings that house books, libraries are institutions for learning, creating, exploring and connecting. When you walk into a 21st century library, you will still find the excitement in aisles upon aisles of books on various topics, big and small, old and new. However, in addition to this wonderment, you will also find modern spaces where people can use technology, meet with each other to discuss issues, and attend engaging programs for all ages.
And libraries continue to innovate and evolve. Over the last 18 months, libraries have adapted to the challenges of a public health pandemic. Access to e-resources and online research has been expanded and enhanced to support the changes in our environments and the way in which we seek information. Customers can now acquire a digital library account without ever stepping foot inside a library building. Families can interact with virtual and video-based programming. Individuals can even borrow Chromebook devices and mobile Wi-Fi hotspots from their library to use technology at home.
What’s the one thing you need as a passport on these journeys?  Your library card!
Thirty-five years ago, I received a letter from Irma Harlan, director of the CEL Regional Library (precursor of Live Oak Public Libraries), congratulating me on winning a library contest. She ended the letter with “We hope you will continue to use the library as you grow up, and that you will always enjoy reading.” Thank you, Ms. Harlan, I do. I truly do.
Alissa Landram is the senior library manager at Garden City Library for Live Oak Public Libraries.  Visit your local library or connect with us online at liveoakpl.org, @liveoakpl, and [email protected].
Recommended reading
If you are thinking about your early connections with books or want to explore libraries in a new light, check out these recommended reads at your local library or online.  Share your library stories and memories at liveoakpl/stories.
• “Because of Winn Dixie” by Kate DiCamillo
• “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White
• “Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World” by Vicki Myron
• “The Friend” by Sarah Stewart
• “The Great Alone” by Kristin Hannah
• “The Library Book” by Susan Orlean
• “The Library Dragon” by Carmen Agra Deedy
• “Llama Llama Red Pajama” by Anna Dewdney
• “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig
• “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” by Gregory Maguire

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