What The Library Has To Offer Your Family - Besides Books

By being aware of what your local library offers, besides books, you and your family can make the most of your next visit.

Of course everyone knows that libraries are the place to go for all your favorite books. But are you aware of the many other resources and services that the library can offer your family?

FOR THE KIDS

Story times are a library staple. They're usually a fun time of listening to entertaining stories and sometimes participating in other activities like songs or crafts. Library programming for kids isn't limited to story times, though. Some libraries have parties based on favorite books, hands-on science demonstrations, holiday-themed activities and many more ways for kids to spend an hour or two being educated and entertained.

When it comes time to do research for a school project, consider the local library as your one-stop shop for everything your children from a single book, to computer access to type up the paper. You might think that heading to the library for schoolwork is unnecessary if you have internet access at home. However, libraries subscribe to special databases for research. These provide much higher quality information than your basic web search. At the library, you can also utilize the library professionals who are skilled at helping you find the information you need. Some libraries have even set up special homework help times.

Summer reading clubs can provide the extra motivation your kids need to keep reading during the summer. It's the perfect combination of education and fun. Check for special events like end-of-program celebrations or author visits in conjunction with the summer reading program to get even more mileage out of the event. And who knows, there might even be a summer reading program for adults.

FOR THE PARENTS

Some libraries plan special programs especially for adults, such as workshops on financial planning or health and wellness. Or if you have an area of expertise that others would love to know about, consider offering to hold a workshop of your own.

Many libraries offer genealogy resources. Whether it has full-fledged archives, a subscription to a special database, or just lots of old newspapers, your local library can get you started on the search for your past.



While they won't do your taxes for you, every year, libraries stock up on reams of tax forms and preparation booklets as a service to the public.

If you enjoy the library and you've been looking for a way to give back to the community, check out your local Friends of the Library group. They do activities that support the needs of the library, like planning fundraisers or facilitating book discussions. You're sure to enjoy yourself, and the group will appreciate the new face.

FOR EVERYONE

Most libraries provide basic office services to their patrons such as photocopying, faxing and printing. Fees for these services vary by library.

Every library subscribes to a selection of newspapers and magazines. These can be fun to browse through while visiting the library, and older issues can be checked out, saving you the need to spend money on a subscription.

Books and CDs on tape are another resource that most libraries offer. They're great for long commutes or to listen to while exercising. For beginning readers, listening to a book while reading along can help build comprehension and understanding.

Videos and DVDs are two more things that not everyone realizes libraries carry. There may be a small rental fee, but it will be cheaper than at the local video store. And they don't just have educational titles; you're more likely to find a Hollywood blockbuster on the shelves than a public television series.

Sure, borrowing books is fun and economical, but don't you sometimes find books that you'd love to own? Library used book sales are a great place to give in to that impulse. The books for sale are a combination of donations they couldn't use and books that are being pulled out of circulation. Some libraries hold a large yearly sale, others try it once a month or so, and still others have an ongoing used bookstore on the library premises. Part of the fun is the hunt, and you never know what you may find to build your own personal library.

Not every library will offer all of the programs and resources listed here. Each one is a little different, depending on community needs and budget restraints. Be on the lookout for flyers when you visit the library, visit the library's website, and check for announcements in your local paper. By being more aware of what libraries offer, you and your family can make the most of your next visit and hopefully plan many more return trips.

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