Thursday, July 11, 2013

How To Make The Most Of Your Public Library This Summer

"I'm BORED!"

We aren't even to the middle of July yet, but have you already heard these words uttered out of the mouths of your precious babes?

My own children know better than to speak these words to me, because if they do, I will always have an idea of something *super fun* that they can do. Can you hear the sarcasm?

However, I do try to keep the kiddos relatively entertained in the summer months. As I mentioned in my last blog post, this year, I decided to ask them what inexpensive things they would like to do this summer.

One of the things on our Summer Bucket List was to visit the library.

I am always amazed when I talk to people who don't take advantage of their public library. There are people who *gasp* NEVER EVER go to the library! Can we please have a moment of silence for these poor souls?

Some of my girls' favorite childhood memories have been made at the library. We used to go there all the time, but since the whole crazy busyness of moving, we have kind of gotten out of it. We are changing that this summer!

But, what exactly can you do at the library? Isn't it just a place know.....check out books?

No, my dear reader. It is so much more than that. Of course, one of the major perks is being able to check out books, but there is a whole other dimension to the library that you may not even be aware of.

Here is a Top Ten List of things your local library probably offers:

1. Free Air Conditioning

Is your house so hot that it feels like a sauna? Why not spend the afternoon at the library? Take advantage of their nice, cool air! Ahhh.....

2. Books

Duh. We already know that, Amiee. You ARE talking about the library. However, did you know that you can check out books that don't exist at *your* library? Let's say you want a particular book. In fact, you have been dreaming of reading it forever, but your small town library doesn't have it, and you don't want to purchase it yourself. If your library is anything like mine, they will most likely be able to get it for you through their inter-library loan program. All you need to do is ask the librarian to see if it is available, or order it through their online ordering system. They will call you when it comes in. It's as simple as that! I have been able to get many hard to find books this way.

Another thing that I was not aware of is that the library will even deliver books to people who are not able to leave their house for one reason or another. You do need to sign up for this special program, but what an awesome thing to do for people who would otherwise not be able to have access to books.

 3. Movies

We are not a family that goes to the movie theatre very often. It is very expensive to do that on a regular basis, so we usually just wait until the movie comes out on DVD.  You can rent a movie through Redbox for $1 and some change, but you know what price is even better? FREE! At our library, you are able to borrow five movies at a time, for a whole week. They have a lot of good titles, and though they are most likely not going to be new releases, they sure do make for a cheap movie night at home! They also have some really good documentaries, and I have used several of these for my girls for school and for classes I have taught at our homeschool co-op.

 4. Magazines

Maybe you're like me, and you are a bit of a magazine freak. Magazines seem to speak to me. I can hear them whispering....."read me". The problem? There are so many that I would love to read, but I don't want to pay a fortune for that privilege. I do subscribe to a few good ones, but there are so many others out there that I would be interested in reading if I was given the opportunity! Enter.....the library. The library subscribes to many, many different magazines. Their subscription is my gain! I can read and read to my heart's content! I can even check out some to take home, if I can't read all that I want to during my time at the library.

Do you know what else? Our library has a magazine exchange program. People who subscribe to magazines read them, and then they bring them in so other people can take them home and read them. You take leave some. It's a win/win situation. I encourage you, if you have a stack of magazines just lying around your house, take them to the library! Someone like me will thank you.

5. Computers/Printers/Copiers

Most libraries have computers that are available for people to use for free for a set number of time. Since we have internet access at home, I don't often take advantage of this, but during a time when we didn't, it was a lifesaver! You can also take your own laptop or phone into the library and access free Wi-Fi.

For a small fee, you can also print things off the computer. Maybe something like this? I plan on doing this with my girls on some rainy afternoon.

Want to make a copy or two, but don't own your own copier? The library is your answer!

 6. Coupons

I can just hear you now. "Coupons?! At the library? What are you talking about?" Yes, you did read that correctly. Coupons!

While your little cherubs are happily entertaining themselves, you can go through the coupons that are available. People will bring in their unwanted coupons (at our library, they are even all cut and sorted out in categories) so other people can use them. Score!

7. Classes, Crafts, and Activities

Are your little kids starting to drive you bonkers? Take them to story time! A friendly librarian will read them a story, and then do a craft pertaining to that story.

There will usually be a craft table set up at all times in the kid section, where kids can do a designated craft on their own, or even just draw and color.

Our library also offers fun activities for children of all ages. Here are some of the fun things they have planned this summer:

*Summer Reading Program

Your children will be rewarded for reading books. It's sort of like bribery, but hey.....whatever works to get those kids reading!

*Magic show

*Different amphibians and reptiles being brought in

*Rock Club (show-and-tell session about rocks, precious gems, etc.)

*Class on Origami

*Gardening (kids learn new things every week but also practice gardening themselves)

*Designing T-shirts

The list goes on and on. The library is definitely not just for reading books!

There are even classes for adults. Are you an adult who needs to learn how to use the computer? Your library may have just the class you need. Many libraries offer at least beginning computer lessons, among various other programs.

8. Games

Need to kill a bit of time between appointments? Go to the library and play a game! Most libraries usually have at least checkers, among other games. Teach your child how to play. I taught my one daughter how to play checkers at the library while her sister was at a violin lesson. You can also access many educational games on their child-friendly computers.

9. Research Genealogy

Are you interested in finding out more about your family history? Then the library is the place for you! Our library has a heritage room, where many different resources are available for you to begin your research. There is also a helpful librarian skilled in genealogy research who is available to assist you.

10. Volunteer Opportunities

Need something for your bored teenager to do this summer besides sitting around playing video games? Have them volunteer at the library. I talked to one of our local librarians, and she mentioned that they are always looking for good volunteers! Volunteering doesn't just mean re-shelving books and movies, although that is certainly one way they could help out. They also need volunteers to help run all of these incredible programs the library puts on. They could help out during story time or craft hour, or at one of the libraries many other activities.

One thing that I need to mention. Don't be one of those people who just drops their small children off at the library for the afternoon, so the library can watch them. If your child is not old enough to stay home by themselves, they are NOT old enough to be dropped off at the library! Little children need adult supervision, even in the library. This is not the job of the librarian. The library is not a day care center. The librarians are not babysitters.You would be amazed at how many people think that this is okay. It isn't.

If you don't have one already, it is time to get a library card! Make sure to get your kids one too, if they are old enough. There is a certain joy that comes over a child when they realize that they get to have their very own library card. With that magical little card, they are able to take home any number of books and movies that they themselves have picked out.

The next time you need an inexpensive way to spend a scorching summer afternoon, why not go to your public library?

You'll be very glad you did....


  1. My husband gets lots of movies out of our library. We have a blackbox which is similar to redbox. You have to reserve the movie online (either at your home or at the library) and have two hours to pick it up. They have a lot of new releases. And you get them for a week.

    1. Wow! You must live in a bigger city than we do. What a great feature!

  2. I love libraries - this post is such a good reminder. Our library also have a "Friends of the Library" Group who run a stall once a month to sell off old books. This can be such a good opportunity to buy books cheaply.