Despite our digital world, libraries are not dead yet and in fact still powerful and could be very useful if you know what they can do for you.
I am one of those moms who still go to the local library at least once a month to replenish the supply of children’s books that we read almost every night to my 4 year old son. I rarely buy new books anymore because I have no reason to. I have the library with thousands of books providing both best selling and award-winning books at my disposal to serve me anytime, anywhere. Besides, it’s virtually impossible to keep up and buy every good and new books for the family that have just been published.
Do you know what the library can really do for you? If you know, you will find it really very useful and helpful in your life!
Here’s how I take advantage of my local library. First of all, my experience is based on the County of Los Angeles Public Libraries, specifically my favorite library, the West Hollywood library and that I can only speak from my personal experience. Some features and benefits may differ from county to county or state to state.
Let me share with you how I take advantage of my local library and how it can help busy mothers like me.
How I use the library to get the best books for my child:
I go to Amazon’s Children’s Books section and find the age-appropriate book for my child and narrow it down to ten best sellers. Okay, sometimes up to twenty. I use that list to know which books to check out at the library. Unless the book is really very new, it may not be available just yet. But it’s OK. Most children’s books are classic and timeless anyway. It’s not about how new the book is, but it’s about the quality and relevance the book have to your child, his/her environment, family and other factors.
There is also the “recommended books” section in the library (available both online and offline) that I go to, to give me ideas which books are available for pick up and what have other people are also recommending.
Another thing I also consider in picking up the right book for my child: I consider books that received Caldecott Medals or Newbery Medals.
What is a Caldecott Medal?The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. On the other hand, the Newbery Medal was named after the eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually also by ALSC to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
For more information visit the Association for Library Service for Children website.
Like I mentioned above, it is true that you may not find the newest books in the library all the time but based on my personal experience it’s not several months or years before a new book becomes available in the library. Sometimes, it just take a few months. In fact, the library allows me to “Suggest a purchase”. It’s a tool that I use to let them know the books I need them to consider buying. This does not guarantee that they will buy every book I suggest. However, it’s a way of letting them know the demand for that book and a consideration for purchase.
Don’t forget that another popular kind of books for kids are pop up books. Although there are apps for pop-up books for children, nothing still beats a real and physical pop-up book to show the kids!
I also borrow books based on Holiday events or special occasions. For example, I borrow New Year’s-related books in January, Valentine-related stories in February, birthday story books on my son’s birthday month, books about school when he was about to attend pre-school, so on and so forth. In other words, I sometimes themed my books.
I like the fact that libraries are practically everywhere (at least in the city where I live). I’m happy to find a local library near my house, my work or just about every city I know.
Moreover, do you know that libraries don’t only provide books but also movies, music CDs, audiobooks, ebooks and downloadable books? For those who really want a digital copy, do you know that some libraries like mine have moved digitally also? For example, I have a library app that allows me to check in and out ebooks and read on my ipad or iphone just like how I would borrow a book physically from the library. I like the fact that an option like this is now available.
Let’s not forget that the Library is part of our community. In fact, I keep abreast of my library events because some libraries provide story-telling hours for kids, hold performances, free classes, books sale events and many more. This is one good way to reach out to my community, and get ideas of things to do for the family and for my kid to meet and play with other kids as well.
Last but not least, one of my favorite features of using the library is the convenient truth that I can login online on my library’s website and reserve or place a hold of all the books I want (okay maybe not all but as long as they are available and probably within the number of books I can borrow) and deliver it to my local library. The book resource is not only dependent on the inventory of my local library but to the county of Los Angeles. Therefore, no more guessing whether the books I’m about to borrow is available or not. I can also plan my library visit in advance so I don’t waste time going to the library not having any books I really want. So this saves me time before going to the library and the need to browse and find the book myself and end up with nothing. I just literally come in, go to the reserved books’ section, pick up the books under my name and check out. Voila! I’m done in less than five minutes.
Oh did I mention that the check out process is always a breeze? I can either check out with a person or do a self-check out like those I see in the self-checkout section in the grocery!
Best of all, the books and service are all free!