Singing the “Library Card Song”

Arthur books opened up

Nineties kids and their parents may remember the “Library Card Song” from “Arthur.” With a posse of his closest friends, Arthur Read, an anthropomorphic aardvark, struts down the street with his library card. His air of confidence is so contagious that a trail of kids join him en route to the local public library. Suddenly, everyone breaks out into song, chanting in unison, “Having fun isn’t hard, when you’ve got a library card!” 

A staple of children’s educational programming, “Arthur” ran for 25 seasons on PBS. “Arthur” is a relatable show about being a kid and emphasizes the importance of childhood literacy. The beloved show originates from Marc Brown’s illustrated book series by the same name, and it came to its conclusion two years ago in February 2022

Now the question is, after all this time, does the “Library Card Song” still hold up? Can an episode from December 28, 1998 be relevant to a modern library, like Princeton Public Library? Take a ride down memory lane. You can listen along here and click on the hyperlinks to see related content at our library.

Ms. Turner: Come on inside. We’ve got everything you need. There’s plenty to do or you can just sit and read. 

So far, so good.

Muffy: This book explains how to make paper planes

Arthur: This contour map can show you mountain range terrains.

Brain: Fly to the moon. Explore the ocean floor

Buster: Find out which one’s the tiller and which one is the oar. 

Fern: Here’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Half Magic.” 

Timmy: “Hop on Pop.” 

Tommy: “Fox in Socks.” 

George: And books on doing card tricks

The aforementioned classics in children’s literature continue to be popular, yet the genre has diversified immensely. With so much to do at the library, the celebration explodes into a flash mob and repeats, “Having fun isn’t hard, when you’ve got a library card!”

Arthur: Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and Ray Bradbury

Francine: You can take ’em home, so you don’t have to read ’em in a hurry. 

Arthur raps well-known authors you can find at the library. The episode premiered in 1998, so it would actually be a few more years until 2003, when the first public library started circulating eBooks. Now, eBooks and digital audiobooks are commonplace. The library can come to you at home. Borrow a digital copy of H.G. Wells’s “The War of the Worlds” or Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” even when the building is closed.

D.W.: There’s storytime and lessons on how to use computers, but there can’t be any classes on how to make me cuter. 

Francine: Puppet shows and movies–the cool things never end. 

Ms. Turner: And don’t forget, the Dewey Decimal System is your friend. 

D.W.: Who’s Dewey? 

Additionally, our library has author talks, music performances, English conversation groups, and writers groups. Anyone, with or without a library card, can attend! And to answer D.W.’s question, Melvil Dewey is the librarian who designed the classification system that organizes the books in our library. With Dewey’s help and our subject neighborhoods, you can find what you’re looking for.

“The Library Card Song” exemplifies how libraries can be exciting and engaging spaces for everyone. Maybe I’m biased, but I think there is plenty worth singing about.

Lyrics courtesy of Genius. Photo courtesy of the library.

Blog post by Tiffany Fang.

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