Libraries are a wonderful thing, and most people don't take advantage of them like they should. My family takes full advantage of our local library system. One thing that we really like about our library is that it is a member of a larger group of libraries, which allows us to check out materials from other libraries if our library doesn't have it. We simply search for an item and place a hold on it for pick up at our local library. This is great.
The first and obvious resource the library offers is books. You can go and wander the stacks for hours looking for books, but in today's modern age, you can also search on line for the books you want. The catalog is on-line, accessible from library or home, and you can quickly pinpoint what you want with key word, title or author searches. I will confess, I once worked at a library, so I enjoy spending time just wandering around looking at the books and sort of miss the old card catalog. It made it much more of a treasure hunt. Today, things are much quicker, which is convenient, but sometimes just wandering through will lead you to a book you never would have thought to look for in a computer.
We frequently check out books from the library. For the kids, it is a way for them to rotate books. We have some books that after repeated requests to please get that book again, we wound up purchasing, so that others could enjoy the book that we had been monopolizing. For me, it is away to read some of those sappy books that I love for a quick read, without making an investment. It has allowed my husband and I to read or just skim books on subjects of interest. I have used the library to get the books that my book club has been reading as well.
Continuing with the book theme is story time. Both of my kids have enjoyed story time and thankfully, our library has included evening story time for certain age groups, allowing us to participate. For children who aren't enrolled in school or daycare, it is a great starting point for social interaction. For all kids, it is a great way to generate interest in books and to help them "think" about the book, with the questions that the librarian asks, as well as those discussion questions included on the take home sheet. Our library fills the book shelf in the story time room with other related books, allowing us to quickly find some other stories to take home to continue the discussion.
In addition to story time, the library has other great programs for kids. I can remember as a child going to our library to participate in a Monopoly tournament. At our library, we have attended movies, Dad/Son sport events, and more. They offer craft activities, book discussion groups, chess club, playgroup (a great resource for mom's new to the community) and science based activities. They have activities specifically geared for home schoolers, they have activities for after school, and they have activities to get teens to the library. Our library even has a kids counsel to seek input from the kids on the type of programs that they like and would like to see.
We utilize our library a lot for DVDs and CDs. When we see a new release is coming out, we log on and place a reserve on the movie. We don't always know when we will get to see a movie, but it is free. In addition, when we are at the library, we will browse the movies and choose shows to take home and watch. My son has watched Inspector Gadget, Scooby Doo, Anamaniacs and more of the 'classics' that we grew up on, thanks to them being part of the library collection. I have been able to watch, and rewatch, some of my favorites like Anne of Green Gables that you aren't going to find at Redbox, which is focused on new releases. In the area of music, the collective library system has an extensive collection of music. It gives us the opportunity to listen to more music, without having to listen to commercial radio. It is also a great way to preview something before buying. In addition to music, they have books on CD. We have checked out books on CD prior to a car trip. Its a great way to "read" that book you have been meaning to read.
The library is a great resource for students (and adults). In addition to the obvious collection of reference books that they have, they also provide a number of computer terminals, allowing for students who might not otherwise have access to the Internet an opportunity to do their research online. Through their website, they also offer homework help. They even offer a web cam on one of their computers for those that would like to connect with family in the military or just another location using Skype, Yahoo or AOL.
Speaking of resources, the library also offers community rooms, which can be used for meetings. My local women's club met at the library, when we were between locations.
Our local library still has a Bookmobile. The kids think it is such a treat to walk down the road to the Bookmobile and select a couple of books. I liked it a lot when gas was $4 a gallon and I didn't have to drive into town to go to the library. You can even request that your reserved items be sent out on the Bookmobile, so you can ensure that the item that you want is on the Bookmobile, instead of just choosing from their current selection.
Share the library with a child in your life and help build a lifetime love of books.
To learn more tips and tricks, check out Works for Me Wednesday at Rocks in My Dryer.