Has it been a while since you visited your local library? You aren’t alone. Less than half of Americans have visited a library in the past year. Now is the time for you to go back! The library is not what you might remember from when you were younger. Gone are the days of card catalogs and absolute quiet atmospheres. Libraries are so much more now than just free books.
Want someone else to help your child with their homework?
Does Common Core make you want to scream? Many libraries have times set aside to work with children on their homework. Libraries have volunteers to help students with their homework battles. Check with your local library to see if you will need to sign up ahead of time to reserve a spot.
Find out more about your family for free.
Genealogy is the second most popular hobby in the United States. (In case you are wondering, gardening is first.) If you are like most Americans, it’s one of your favorites as well. Do you want to know more about your family’s history but don’t want to pay for a membership? Often libraries have memberships to Ancestry and other genealogy websites if you access them locally at the library.
Librarians may be the most interesting people you’ll ever meet.
Vanished are the days of mousy, shushing librarians. These open-minded, fascinating souls have answers to anything you want to know. If they don’t know the answer, they will find out for you and you will learn together. Also, they laugh. Loud. They have passions that will amaze you. You will want to become best friends with them.
You have access to print and digital products.
Libraries have current print magazine subscriptions for you to thumb through that won’t end up cluttering your house or be cut into millions of pieces when your kids make art.
Want to download magazines, check out tiggly’s, launchpads, or sound media players? The library has these and more. Plus, when you check out an e-book, they expire on their own with no returning to the library or incurring late fees! I have several books downloaded and even if they expire, I can check them out again and my device knows where I left off.
You can also download music, eBooks, audiobooks, movies and tv through Hoopla or you can stream kanopy with no commercials! Your library will set a weekly download limit. It’s a great way to increase your entertainment collection so you don’t want to bang your head against the wall when your kid asks to listen to the same album or watch the same movie repeatedly.
Your child’s interests all in one place.
Check out your library’s calendar of FREE events to find classes for art, music, playtime, STEM, language, movement, Lego, reading to therapy dogs, science experiments, and cooking. Recently, my girls both constructed a model building structure made of food and then built a shake table to test it so they could simulate an earthquake.
Story times aren’t just sitting while someone is reading a book. They are full of movements, songs, and activities to go along with the books. These programs not only teach social skills and muscle tone, but they give you a chance to meet other parents going through similar experiences.
Some libraries carry bundled kits that include a theme for children. They may be comprised of Leappads, books, videos, music, puzzles, and toys about a common theme such as magnets, cooking, or the zoo. They may also contain activity guides to further learning.
Sensory Story Time means peaceful time for all.
Sometimes children’s story times are too much for your child and can be overwhelming when rooms are packed with other people. Sensory story times have a cap on the number of children in the room. They often include bubbles, frequent breaks to shake the sillies out, and activities tailored to tactile needs as well as books. Some libraries even have Sensory Story Times for adults.
Have a multicultural experience.
Young children who come from non-English speaking homes is an expanding demographic. Multicultural programing for families are on the rise at many libraries. Multilingual programs encompass the whole families to cater to non-English speaking families, older children with non-English speaking parents, and well, everyone who wants a diverse experience. The programs can include multilingual songs, books with several languages, puppets, and movement activities. Learning from another culture allows all parties to discover from one another through their unique experiences and come together in a positive way. Families establish increased tolerance and respect for others that is life-long.
Your little ol’ local library isn’t your only option.
You may live in an area with a tiny library but did you know that many libraries allow reciprocal agreements with other library systems and allow you to have a library card in a nearby larger system? Not only will you have access to more books, but oftentimes, you may request the books be sent to your location.
Do something fun for yourself.
For once, sweet parents, do something just for you! Libraries offer classes for adults as well as children. Love art? They have adult coloring, painting, crafts, and even “Pop and Palette” classes. (Sadly wine cannot be indulged in the library or they would have to rename libraries “Heaven”.) Love language, writing, and books? They have memoir and creative writing groups as well as adult story time, language classes, author readings, and book clubs. Love to play? Try a coffee, conversation, and board game event.
What are you waiting for? Now is the right time to rediscover your love of libraries!