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Saturday, May 23

How To Use Your Local Library

I love books. I mean, I really love books. I like the way they feel, the way they look, the way they sound when you drop them (but never on purpose)! I love the knowledge, laughs, and adventures contained within them. And as much as I adore the internet (I "pray" at the altar of Google daily) I love books even more. And that is why I love public libraries so much.

Hopefully you know the basics of using your local library such as how to use the computer to search for a book, how to check books out, how to return books, and so on. But I wanted to share just a few more tips on making the most of your library (books and other resources).

  • The librarians have a job. That job is helping you. Sure, they may spend plenty of time shelving books, and shushing patrons* but don't think that's all they're there for. Doing a research project and don't know where to begin? Ask a librarian. Want some good book recommendations for yourself, your three your old, or your teen who "hates reading?" Ask a librarian.
  • Get a calendar of events. Most libraries have activities available for all age groups (from babies up to adults). These range from story time, summer reading challenges (with prizes!), family movies, lectures (on topics such as writing a will, using a computer, and so on), and even Wii & Tii events. If you don't see a calendar sitting out then refer to my first tip. ;)
  • Check out other media. Most libraries have music on CD, computer programs, magazines, newspapers, and a video/DVD collection. You might be surprised by what you find. Some libraries even make language learning software available for those looking to learn a second language.
  • If your local library doesn't have what you want, DON'T GIVE UP! Ask the librarian how you can request an inter-library loan. And if that doesn't work ask how you can submit a request that the library purchase the book for which you're looking.
  • Every once in a while be sure to just browse. You never know what gems you'll find on the shelves. And I've not been to a library yet that doesn't set up special displays for popular books, new releases, and so on.
  • Be a good patron. Take good care of the books you borrow. Don't set them down open faced (it damages the spine). Keep them stored where small children and pets can't damage them. If you do damage a book, fess up. You may or may not be asked to purchase a replacement but it's the right thing to do. Never, NEVER deface a book in ANY way.
  • Return books on time or renew them so you avoid fees and so others can check them out. Request a receipt or e-mail reminders if you have a tough time remembering what you checked out and when everything is due. If you make a habit of going to the library every week or two weeks it'll be easier to return materials on time.
  • Ask if your library has an "amnesty day." This is the day once (or several times) a year that the library will forgive any fees you may have on your account.
  • If you check out big stacks of books at a time (like I do) bring sturdy bags, boxes, or even laundry baskets with you to the library.
  • If you want to be a "super patron" consider donating books to the library on occasion. This can work to your advantage if you have your own business. My doula donated a book about doulas to the library and was allowed to put her business information on the inside of the front cover. Ask if you can volunteer your time. Ask if the library needs help in some other way (maybe they'd like some bean bags for a teen reading room or some prizes donated that they can give away in a summer reading challenge).
How you use your library isn't as important as making sure that you do use it. It's an amazing resource just waiting to be utilized. It'd be a shame to let it go to waste.

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*I've never actually encountered a librarian that shushed people. Have you?

1 Stubborn Stains:

CrystalHW said...

So true!

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