Wednesday, 21 January 2015

What to Pack: Going to the Library

New Year's Resolution: Read more books.

If you think about it, the library is actually the key to many of your New Year's Resolutions beyond the (ever noble) goal to read more books. If you're looking to spend more quality time with your children, the library throws events and story times you can attend. If your goal is to save money, the library is the best place to borrow movies, current magazines, and books-free of charge! If your goal is to eat better, the library offers hundreds of cookbooks and popular diet and fitness books to inspire you. If your goal is to learn a new skill, you can head to the library to a class on a new technology, or to a knitting circle. I could go on, but I'm sure you get the point. It's in the best interest of your whole family to get to know your local library better. It's there to improve your quality of life! (Yes, I admit, as a librarian I am biased, but I speak the truth.)

Now that you're convinced of the many merits of your public library, you may be wondering how to get the most out of your visit. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

Wear comfortable clothes.
While the library is a haven of acceptance and equality, you'd seriously regret wearing a tight pencil skirt and stiletto heals on a family visit. First of all, you'll probably be there a while, reading to your child, browsing the shelves, or sitting in on a story time. Add to that low shelves or sitting on the floor in a semi-circle, and you'll be glad you're wearing a nice pair of jeans and a sweater. Dressing your child in layers is a good idea (no matter the season), because you never know how active a sing-a-long will get and extended time in an air conditioned space may require a sweater.

Be in the know.
Pick up a calendar of events for your local branch to really take advantage of what's on offer. Some programs require registration or have age specifications, so it's best to get informed about which programs and services are catered to you and your family. It's always fun to head over to the library to simply browse the stacks and take a few titles home to enjoy, but there's is so much more to the library than that. 

Prepare in advance.
If your library has multiple branches, you can use the online catalogue (or a friendly librarian) to request things from other branches. This saves you time, and seriously expands your options. You can also place a hold on books or movies you really want, so that you don't have to be disappointed at your next visit when someone beat you to the punch. This comes in handy if your 7 year old is reading a series of books and needs number 13 next, or if you want to read one of the season's hottest books that just never stays on the shelf.

Pack a snack.
Promoting a love of reading requires positive associations to books (and libraries). You don't want to undermine the activity with a hunger induced grump storm. The library is no place for take-out dinners but most branches are now more lax about food rules so you can bring in your coffee (with a lid) and small dry snacks like granola bars.

A trip to the library isn't a big event, but it is very special. Taking the time to visit your community branch monthly (or weekly) connects you with your neighbours, expands your horizons, and, simply put, is a fun thing to do.

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