The Somerville Public Library will compete with the libraries in Arlington, Belmont, and Lexington in a Library Card Sign-Up competition throughout February. These public libraries will perform outreach with local organizations and businesses to encourage residents to sign up for a library card (Somerville will give away prizes for new signees, culminating in the grand prize of an e-book reader.) Participating businesses will offer a discount to customers who show their library card or keycard during their purchase. “Library cards offer residents a gateway to a world of information resources, learning tools, and possibilities,” says Somerville Library Director Maria Carpenter. “Residents can grab a book, movie or e-book; take a computer class; practice English; attend a lecture; take a free creative writing class; meet up with friends in the new Teen Space; research family history; and use online college test and civil service preparation databases, among many other options!” Whichever library has the higher percentage increase in new library card registrations in February 2013 compared to February 2012 will be the victor – and the prize is a platter of baked goods delivered to the winner from the losing cities’ favorite local bakeries. To kick off this campaign, there will be a press conference from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, in the Robbins Library Reading Room, 700 Massachusetts Ave., in Arlington. New library card registrants and current card holders referring a friend can look forward to incentives such as buttons, bracelets, pencils, bookmarks, and the like when they sign up. These new card holders will then be entered in the grand prize drawing of the e-book reader. In addition, these new patrons can also be entered in a drawing hosted by local businesses – and may win movie passes or tickets to a local performance. Patrons who already have library cards can bring in a friend to register for a card and also receive a prize. But February’s competition is just the start of Somerville’s endeavor to register new library card holders. The library plans to tie this into a yearlong outreach effort in different areas of the community to obtain new library users. As part of the Library and Schools dual strategy of providing seamless education services, the library and area schools are partnering on this effort. So be sure to look for our announcements and signs throughout the City about upcoming outreach events and patron incentives! For local businesses who would like to participate in the campaign, please contact Eileen Fontenot, firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-842-2278.