Having a birthday party for your child? The library can help with that.
Going camping for the weekend? Visit the library to be prepared.
Long car ride? Library, please!
Want to save money on your electric bill? Give the library a call.
Need to fax, print, email an important document? Librarians are trained to assist.
Tax season got you stressed? Your local library probably has you covered.
Libraries have become somewhat polarizing in the past few years. In my experience, people either use their local libraries religiously or they see no use for them. Having served four years on the board of my local library, I’ve heard many arguments for and against taxpayers’ dollars being spent on books. Let me state from the outset that I am a huge fan of libraries and my goal here today is to let you know that, even if you aren’t an avid reader, your local library wants to serve you.
Libraries all over the country are trying to find ways to serve more of their constituents, and they are thinking outside of the box to do it. Other than books, magazines, and newspapers, your local library most likely has an awesome collection of the newest movies on Blue-Ray and DVD. When my favorite musicians release new music, I don’t download, I request the CD from my library to listen to the album first. When I just can’t find the time to read, I borrow audiobooks to listen to during my commute.
Maybe you want to get out of the house, see something new and exciting. I just learned that a library close to me has snow shoes available to borrow! Fishing poles and tackle are some of the most common summertime choices for patrons. For those rainy days, libraries provide tremendous savings when they offer museum passes to patrons. Art museums, science museums, history museums, kids museums - you name it and a library near you most likely offers admission for free or at a discount.
One of my personal favorite collections to see in libraries are the kitchen items. I’d like to give a special shout-out to the cake pan collections that I have both used and donated to. I’m a cake maker and decorator, but it kills me to spend upwards of twenty dollars to find the newest character cake pan. It's the library to the rescue! I’ve borrowed everything from Elmo to dinosaurs, sunflower to Lego man; I always call to see if they have what I need before I go buy. Many libraries have other kitchen items as well: juicers, veggetis, rice cookers. Try before you buy, or borrow and return if you don’t have the storage space.
Now let’s talk about KIDS! The library knows how expensive it can be to keep them entertained, and librarians and aides are here for you! Many libraries offer games to borrow, and many also host game times during the week for kids to take part in. For the younger kids who love to play with something new every day, many libraries have thematic backpacks to borrow. These backpacks are curated to suit many different tastes, covering topics like astronomy, phonics, telling time, knitting, and construction. In the backpack, you’ll usually find a variety of items, including books, puzzles, DVDs, and hands-on tools they can practice with. One of the coolest items I have seen available to borrow are Birthday Party Backpacks. These backpacks contained cake pans, books, games, and templates for activities like coloring pages. Could planning a birthday party be any easier?
For those long car rides with kids, libraries offer playaway books, shows, and interactive video games that can keep kids occupied for hours. For those of you with teenagers, wifi hotspots can help keep your teens connected and happy as well.
If you find that this article doesn’t address anything you are interested in, I apologize. But I also urge you to think about what your local library could help you with. Because of all the awesome things I’ve seen and learned about in the item collections of libraries, by far the coolest are the people who work in them. Librarians are not the spectacle-having, cardigan-wearing, patron-shushing people they used to be. Librarians today know they need to offer a variety of media and services to stay relevant in a changing informational landscape. Visit your local library to see how they can serve you!
Kristin Crouch has been teaching elementary school students for fourteen years. She is an organizer for Kids Need Mentors, a nationwide program that facilitates over three hundred author-classroom pairings. Kristin is a mom and grandmother whose idea of the perfect day consists of coffee, a good book, and some very competitive games played with her family.