You might be wondering why I’m writing a post about my local library. Wouldn’t you have to live in or around my town to benefit from it? Well, no. Not necessarily.
I write this to encourage you and your family to visit your local library and explore things there that you might not be aware of. I’m sure there are resources that I’m not taking advantage of at my library even after all the time we’ve spent there!
A public library’s purpose is to make knowledge available to all members of the community- a place where even those less economically advantaged can seek out information and learn. Books are the obvious start (and a great one, at that) to learning, but our society now has so many different ways to acquire knowledge, that every public library should be taking steps to provide new media and technology to its community members.
When we moved into our community almost five years ago, I was delighted that we were just down the street from the local library. We began visiting several times per month, and soon realized that it is one of the best features of our town. Where we live is a smaller desert community, and I like to think that our library is sort of an oasis of awesome! See if you agree!
We have a year-round used bookstore in the library. It’s situated in a designated “wing” of the library, and is always available during library hours. I’m amazed at how the content is constantly being updated. I can find great books (that have either been donated by individuals or discarded by the library) and other materials usually for 75 cents or less. And of course, all the proceeds go to improving the library and funding a variety of programs.
Our library loans backpacks to its patrons! These are mesh backpacks that contain items based on a particular theme. For instance, they offer a “cities” backpack, containing three books and a set of city-themed wooden building blocks. Another favorite we’ve brought home is the transportation backpack. It contains a book, a wooden puzzle and a magnetic play set. There are story themed backpacks too, like the Lilly and Friends (from the books by Kevin Henkes) backpack that has three books and a plush toy. (Others include Where the Wild Things Are and Frog and Toad are Friends, for example). There are about 60 different backpacks available at our library with topics ranging from art to prehistoric creatures!
This is a new offering at our library, and due to high demand, we haven’t been able to get our hands on one yet, but these Launchpad tablets for kids come pre-loaded with various apps. There are 15 available- ranging from art, language arts, science, math and STEAM-themed tablets.
I have searched around, and was shocked to only find Culture Pass in my state! Maybe it’s available elsewhere under a different name, or maybe other states just need to get on board and make this available! 😉 We are able to check out a pass that will give us free admission to local cultural destinations like museums, plays (seasonal availability, obviously), botanical gardens, etc. I have taken my children to a local museum (literally ten minutes down the street from us), my husband and I visited a modern art museum for a free date night, and last year, I took my two older children to a puppet show that was being presented at a professional puppet theater.
Late Fees/Fee Cap/Item Limits
We had a library card at a library in another nearby city. I was excited to have access to more resources, and they let us check out 35 items per card! Cool! Until I forgot to renew things online, and finally remembered a few days later! Yikes! Over $25 later (at 25 cents per item per day), I vowed to never make that mistake again!
Our library, on the other hand, only charges 10 cents per day per item (with the exception of DVDs and other video resources). They also have a $5 “cap” on what you can be charged for a single item. So, for instance, let’s say you forget, and bring a DVD back two weeks after it was due, instead of charging $14 (a dollar per day), they will still only charge $5.
Also, they only allow 15 items per card to be checked out, and I finally thought to ask the reason behind this. I was told it was to reduce the amount of fines one could be charged. It makes a lot of sense if you think about it. I certainly would not want to be the one to check out 50 DVDs, and bring them back even a day late!
This is one feature that always elicits amazement from people visiting for the first time. Our children’s area has an indoor play castle that is two stories high. We live in a hot climate, so it’s important to have indoor facilities where kids can play and run off their energy. (I can see this being beneficial in very cold or rainy places too). They have dress-up clothes and a throne for encouraging imaginative play, and areas to sit and play a game or build with blocks or other toys in the castle as well.
Hand in Hand Area
My kids love to play in this area of the children’s library. Intended for parents and children from birth to five, there are scores of board books as well as parenting books available here. It features a play kitchen complete with toy food and plates, and kids love to sit at the toddler-size table and enjoy books, work on puzzles or play with the kitchen toys
When the weather is nice, we head outside to the enclosed playground. Parents can sit around and chat (or catch up on their reading) while the children climb and slide on the play structure. An outdoor playground isn’t necessary to a good library, of course, but it’s a fun addition!
I love being able to use my library card to gain access to free audio and e-books as well as music and movie downloads. Depending on your library’s agreement with these companies, the items you have access to might be different, but we can download an e-book or listen to an audio book using Hoopla as well as watching full-length movies and television shows, or even downloading an entire music album to listen to for a certain period of time. Once the time is up, they simply disappear from your device. Freegal, on the other hand, allows you to download a certain number of songs per week, but these are “for keeps”. Freegal also now has a streaming movie service. We also have access to Zinio (a digital magazine service) and TumbleBook Library (eBooks for kids). It’s exciting how you don’t even need to leave your house to benefit from your local library these days!
Becky is a wife of nine years and stay at home mom to four young children. She aspires to encourage women in Biblical truth on her blog, Happy Christian Home