Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Your Local Library - A Treasure Trove!

Our local library rocks! Besides being in a gorgeous 150-year old Classic Revival building with vaulted ceilings, fine art, and cushy leather chairs next to a working marble fireplace (seriously!), it offers a wealth of services that we have just barely tapped into.

Beyond your typical book lending, most libraries offer inter-library loan. They can reserve books from other nearby libraries for you to borrow. This vastly expands the number of books that you can access through your library. Our library allows you to reserve these books online. I've found this a great resource for parenting books. There's so many useless ones out there. I like to use a try-before-you buy approach by borrowing the book from the library in order to see whether it's a keeper.

The library is also a great resource for kids books. It's become part of our weekend routine to go to the library to get a new pile of books for HB. We've been able to borrow books on timely topics, like the time we got 6 books about colors, or counting, or potty training, etc. The librarians are a great source of suggestions for popular books or books on a specific topic. They also have a handout listing great books for each age group.

Besides books, our library allows us to borrow movies (at $1 per week!), and audio books.

The library is also a great source of entertainment. For kids, our library has a weekly schedule of events, like story time, rhyme time, and music hour. They also have two computers set up in the kids area with educational computer games for children. For adults, they have author's nights, live music, and even cooking demonstrations. Free internet access is also available at the library, which I think is invaluable for those without it at home.

To keep track of the goings on at the library, I subscribe to the montly email newsletter. When it arrives, I read it and enter any items of interest in our calendar.

One awesome service offered by our library are free or discounted admission to the area museums. Using this service, we've gone to the Museum of Science, the Children's Museum, the Museum of Natural History, and the Aquarium. The museum passes are limited, and so there is an online system for reserving them in advance. I keep a recurring task on my task list to reserve museum passes. This way, we are visiting about 1 new museum a month for free or at a substantial savings to the regular weekend rates. HB has gotten to see some really amazing and fun things! Like petrified dinosaur poop at the Museum of Natural History, or live penguins at the Aquarium. She's always asking if we are going to the 'zeum this weekend. I have so many fond memories of visiting museums when I was a kid, I love being able to replicate this for HB!

So, I encourage you to explore one new service at your local library this month. Go to their website and subscribe to their email newsletter if they offer it. It's a great resource that you shouldn't pass up! If you are already an avid user of your library, then consider supporting it in your annual charity giving. It's a worthy cause!

I'm interested to hear from you. Do you use your local library? Does your library offer services like mine, or is ours just above and beyond? What other services does your library offer?


  1. Absolutely. There's a great youth area included in the Ann Arbor library. With square footage dedicated to toddler play and reading time. In the mornings during the week and around 3pm, you'll find it pretty much empty. My daughter loves picking out books and having quiet time there. They always have a new project lesson station for hands on use. The DVD selection is HUGE! So we stopped getting "Dora" from Netflix. Mia(3) can have her own library card, and the checkout station is "scan-it-yourself" at youth height. They sell reusable canvas bags for $2.00 which makes book carrying and at-home safe keeping easier. (we keep the books we are not reading in the bag at all times, ad the bag in the same place.) They even have an outdoor garden area attached to the main picture book area, so we picnicked out there and had an outdoor break in our nearly 3 hour visit. I would like to be able to visit the library twice or even three times a week. I'm always amazed at how easy it is for the kids to stay interested for hours. It's great quiet non-television centered Mom and me time! We love it. There is an exhibition of the Ann Arbor women artists association that can be browsed on two different floors for this month. They just added a great vending area where you can buy coffe snacks and read.

  2. @Jessica - Wow! That sounds awesome! Being able to buy coffee at the library and have a picnic on the grounds sounds like heaven to me! :-)


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