I love libraries. Maybe it’s the introvert in me that feels drawn to quiet spaces; maybe it’s the two years in high school I spent as a library aide; maybe it’s my love of reading and learning. Whatever it is, I am so glad to have public libraries as part of my community. Whenever there’s a new book I want to read, the first thing I do is check to see if the library has a copy and place a hold. And since becoming a mom, my love of libraries has only increased as I’ve become that much more familiar with everything they have to offer and it’s so much more than the books!
This is really about books, but more about the variety of ways you can use the books, like learning something new! Recently my family visited our local library and picked up books on how to play chess, women in sports, and a Whole 30 cookbook. A couple of months ago, my daughter developed a keen interest in space. What did we do? We went to the library and got books about space so she could learn more. Whatever your interest, the library has a book for you!
They’re awesome. More specifically, they are there to help. Not only can they help you find a specific book or a variety of resources on a specific topic, they also make great recommendations based on interest level, age, and reading ability. So if you find it overwhelming to navigate the library – find a librarian!
3. Play areas
Today’s libraries have a lot more than just books. The children’s play areas are really amazing. You may find trains, blocks, a kitchen, a dollhouse, educational video games, chess, checkers. There is plenty to keep little minds and hands busy. And if you’ve got a really great library, there will be some really comfortable seating available for you to relax while the kids play.
4. Reading programs
Nothing encourages my family to read like the summer reading programs. Maybe it’s the promise of fun prizes at the end of the semester or maybe it’s just the act of committing to a goal, but when we have a number to hit, we’re reading all the time. And the libraries make these so much fun, from the themes to incentives to events around the program – they make reading exciting!
Don’t get me wrong, I love reading to my daughter, but it’s also fun for her to hear someone else make the noises and the actions. Often there’s also a fun activity or theme to go with the book to really make it come alive. And they offer story time almost every day, for lots of age groups so you’re bound to find something that works for you.
6. Enrichment programs
The amount of enrichment programs available for kids is truly outstanding. A short perusal of libraries in the metro area finds music classes, Minecraft groups, girls who code series, after school programs, math tutoring, programs about space and session on learning to juggle. Some programs require registration which makes sense, but some are just drop-in based. Check one (or two or ten) out!
7. Adult learning
One of the best ways I think libraries have re-invented themselves from just a place to get books is what I’ll call adult learning. Workshops on preparing and filing taxes, topics for small business owners, English as a second languages classes, cookbook swaps, book clubs, adult coloring groups, wellness and fitness programs, and more. Again, so many possibilities to learn something new, gain a skill, or just meet other adults.
8. Community space
Not all libraries have this amenity, but so many do. Need to host a meeting for a group – check out your library meeting rooms! There may be a small fee, but they often have great spaces for meetings and events that include A/V resources.
9. College Libraries
This may be a tip for the future or maybe you or someone you know is currently in college. A lot of your required readings may be available for checkout from the campus library. You can usually check them out for months at a time. It’s a great way to save some money! When you add in the study spaces, and technology and research resources, campus libraries should be a vital part of any student’s college life.
The best part – it’s all free (mostly). Need to beat the heat during the summer? Hangout at the library and play a game of chess or checkers. Cold and rainy outside? Head in for some playtime and to browse some books. The possibilities really are endless. I am very thankful to have libraries so accessible (I’ve even visited a library or two on vacation (they make great rainy day activities); I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!