It’s National Library Week, once again!
A national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA), it is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support each April. This year, Library week is April 10-16th.
In 2016, your local library is no longer just a place to check out books. Data shows that library users are borrowing print books less than ever before. But never fear library lovers, use of the library for other reasons is up! The library is becoming an alternative to the coffee shop—a place to lounge, listen or learn, in addition to checking out books and new media. Try one of these unexpected ways to use your local library!
1. Use quiet study areas for a mindful meditation practice.
We could all use a few peaceful, quiet minutes in our day, to center ourselves and clear our minds for the running around each busy day brings. Why not take to a quiet corner of your local library and dedicate a few focused minutes to a calming meditation? Here is just one suggestion for how to make the most of a two minute meditation session. Get the kids involved, too! Meditation is so healthy for all ages.
2. Create a scavenger hunt for kiddos.
While you explore new uses for your library, why not help your kids get to know what your library has to offer with a fun scavenger hunt? They’ll be thrilled to *quietly* rush around the library as they check items off their lists, and you might just discover something as a family that you never noticed there before—like Tax Forms for Mom and Dad, or themed activity kits to check out for road trips! It’s amazing what the library has to offer a busy family.
3. Learn something on your lunch hour.
Many libraries have brown bag community classes and mini seminars that happen at lunch time, so you can squeeze a little enrichment into your day. This is also a great place to meet like-minded people who have similar interests. If you’re a new parent of a young infant, this might be a nice excuse to get out of the house and interact with other adults (the baby will just snooze away in his carrier, right!?).
4. Enjoy original artwork.
Take in a little culture in an unexpected setting. Many libraries have art galleries displaying the work of local artists, complete with periodic gallery opening parties. A library gallery might make a nice (free!) stop on date night or a sweet space to talk culture with your kiddos on your next library trip.
5. Find a new favorite show or movie.
Go old school to find your next binge-watching obsession. You don’t need Netflix or Amazon Prime to discover new (or old) shows and movies worth watching! Most libraries now have extensive media selections, and you can check out whole seasons worth of DVDs at a time to ensure you can watch episode after episode until you’re good and ready to pry yourself off the couch. Your librarian might even have a recommendation for you – don’t be afraid to ask her personal favorites.
6. Give back.
Local libraries are always looking for volunteers. You may want to donate a bit of your time to shelve books and media, assist patrons with finding what they need, or if you have a special skill or area of expertise, your library may want to host an event where you share your knowledge with a group. A library can be a great place to volunteer, clear your mind, and contribute to your community, even if you have limited time to give.
7. Grow your home library.
Libraries must always be making room for new books and media, so most will periodically put on a book sale, selling used books for amazing prices, usually with the proceeds going to benefit the library itself. This is an excellent place to build your own library! Used books are just as enjoyable as new ones, especially children’s books, and shopping a library book sale can be an adventure—you never quite know what you might find!
8. Score free passes.
Many libraries offer awesome access to local attractions for card holders. For example, ask a librarian if you can visit local sites for a free or discounted rate with your library card. Many libraries have special passes that can be checked out for a few days, allowing you access to museums, zoos, nature centers, or historical sites. It pays to be a library VIP! Best of all, it doesn’t cost a dime!
9. Bond with your Baby.
Almost all local libraries have some kind of free programming for little ones, starting as young as six weeks old. There are sing-along mommy and me groups for the youngest little ones, read-alouds and Pajama Storytime events for toddlers and school-aged kids and all sorts of take-and-make craft events, special visitors and holiday celebrations, depending on how much children’s programming your library features. If you regularly attend these child-centric events, you may just make friends you and your child will keep for life!
10. Join a book discussion (for you or your kiddos).
Perhaps you can’t commit to a monthly book club among peers. You might still be interested in joining a one-off book discussion through your library. Or, show your children the value of taking a deep dive into understanding and analyzing a good book with others, by encouraging them to join a children’s book discussion group. Talking about books is a wonderful way to develop conversational skills, powers of persuasion, and it provides practice articulating thoughts to others. And you’ll all have something to discuss around the dinner table!
11. Competitive reading.
Many kids respond to competition. Most libraries host a summer contest of one kind or another to encourage kids to keep reading when school’s out. They may publish book lists that kids can check off as they finish books during the summer months—or encourage kids to log the number of hours they’ve read and compete against other library users to read the most. And if competition isn’t your child’s thing, that’s okay. The book lists that libraries usually compile by age or grade are also just amazing inspiration for picking the next book on your child’s personal reading list.
Do you have other favorite reasons to use your local library? Or does your library have a particularly awesome program you’d like to highlight? Let us know! And don’t forget to share your library experiences with us on social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) with the hashtag #familyreadingmoment.
Happy Library Week!