Council Passes Jimmy Van Bramer’s Bill Making it Easier for Students to Apply for Library Cards

With broad support from the New York Public Library, Queens Public Library, and Brooklyn Public Library, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who has long been an advocate of public libraries, introduced the Library Card Act in his second month in office. The bill will require the DOE to supply library card applications and information on how to apply for library cards to students entering into kindergarten, sixth grade, and ninth grade. The bill will also require that students are supplied applications when transferring into a new school.

Though many students are already enrolled in library memberships, many still are not. In Queens alone, approximately 45% or 113,021 school aged children do not have cards; while in Brooklyn, about 33% or 196,284 school aged children do not have them. A similar number of children lack library cards in the areas served by the New York Public Library. This bill aims to reduce that number by using the expansive reach of the public school system to make it easier for children to apply for library cards by supplying them with library card applications.

“I am thankful for the support this bill has had from Speaker Quinn, Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson, and all the members that sponsored the bill, as well as the three library systems,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “Libraries are an integral part of our education system. It is undeniable that children who read more and use their libraries do better academically. As an educational resource, it is important to use every opportunity to bring libraries and students together. This bill will do just this.”

“A library card can be the ticket to opening up children’s minds and sparking their imaginations. In so many ways, it can be the next step to a great adventure for a child,” New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn said. “I am thrilled that this bill is ensuring that our next generation of New Yorkers will know what great resources the library has to offer – books, classes, computers, and so much more – all at the fingertips of every child.”

“This bill is critical in helping the New York Public Library achieve its goal of engaging students from the time they are babies all the way until their teenage years,” said New York Public Library President, Paul LeClerc. “Library cards are the free but priceless keys needed to unlock the wide variety of materials and programs we have available for children, which are needed by hard-working families now more than ever. So we fully support Councilman Van Bramer’s efforts, and look forward to working with the city Department of Education to ensure every New York City student has a library card.” 

“Libraries are essential partners in academic success. This legislation will go a long way to ensure that every child has access to the support and resources inside their public library,” said Queens Public Library Chief Executive Officer, Thomas W. Galante. “We are grateful for the leadership of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer for spearheading this effort and to Speaker Quinn and the City Council for supporting it.” 

“Ensuring that every child has a library card is a solid investment in the future of our young people, and in the future of New York City,” said Dionne Mack-Harvin, Executive Director, Brooklyn Public Library. “Library cards provide access to unlimited possibilities. BPL has already made a strong commitment to getting more library cards into the hands of children through our borough-wide registration campaign, and recently, with the launch of a library card incentive program that includes discounts and special rewards for families and youth. More library cards into the hands of children is truly a win for us all.”