Thursday, February 16, 2006

Making the Most of Your Library Day

This entry was originally posted at my other site, Twice Bloomed Wisteria.

I don't know about you, but sometimes the weekly trip to the library can be a truly frustrating, disorganized disaster in which you come home to find you have nothing you need, many things completely inappropriate, and some things that must belong to someone else. I feel the children should be able to wander around and look at books and choose things they want to read, yet I want to monitor which things they actually take home (You caught me. I am a control freak). During this same trip I need to find books, books on tape, or videos that are used in more structured learning (i.e. history, geography, reading, literature). Obviously, this is nearly impossible to accomplish in the allotted library time.

Stressed, no fun for anyone, trips to the library used to be the norm for me and my family until I stepped back and solved some of the logistic problems so I could return the library to a treasured resource status. Make use of these ideas before you head out for the library and maybe your library days can become less stressful, too.
  1. What you see is not always what you get. Find out if your library is part of an association. I own more books than our tiny local library, but the library belongs to an association so they and I have access to the books in 20 + libraries.
  2. If your library has limited resources check to see if any reasonably close libraries have more. We use 2 libraries, our local library and a larger library in Jackson. I pay $50 a year for the guest library card, but the resources are worth far more.
  3. Use the library's online catalog. Order all books you want or know you need in advance. Find out how long it takes for delivery to your local library, ordering deadlines, and delivery days before you begin to depend on the service. The books will be waiting at the check out for you. You can then spend all your library time with your children, helping them make smart choices.
  4. Plan library visits on the day the delivery van runs. This is important for movies and books on tape since they have limited hold times. It also lets you adjust quickly if you can't get ordered books.
  5. Get to know the librarian or in larger libraries the librarian in the section you use (in our case, the juvenile books section). If your children know the librarians they will feel more comfortable asking questions and getting the help they need. They will also get invitations to special events.
  6. Keep a list on your Palm Pilot, in a notebook, or on anything you keep with you. On this list keep the names of authors your children enjoy, books you've already read, books that you plan to read, plans for upcoming lessons. If you have this information ready you can help your children bring home books that will be read, enjoyed and fit into your big plan. You, also, will find it useful if some of the books you reserved did not come in. The lists will help you redirect without stress.
  7. Make sure you and your children agree on "the rules" ahead of time. Clarify safety zones in each library you visit. There is nothing more stressful than losing a child. If you have rules about allowed books, make sure the children know.
Now, with everything in place you may interact with your children, helping them choose books on their level, that are appropriate and are deserving of their time. Remember to make the library experience fun and your children will continue to love to visit and take advantage of all the resources offered by the library.

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