“The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.”
– Albert Einstein
When was the last time you went to the library? How long did you stay? Do you know everything that your library has to offer?
There are over 121,000 libraries in the U.S. so your chances are pretty good of living or working close to a library. My family and I visit our local library at least a few times a week. For our interest led learning, we also have a membership to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s Science Resource Center, which is just another library specifically for teachers, that we visit about once every week or two. We also make it a point to visit other libraries whenever the opportunity presents itself. Libraries have come a long way in recent years. They are morphing into a one stop shop for all sorts of things. The best part is that most of these things are absolutely free.
Here are just some of the items that I know public libraries are offering free of charge, books (you remember books right?), magazines, newspapers, DVDs and BlueRays (not just old ones either – with the way libraries are connected now, libraries have better selections than RedBox, NetFlicks, or Amazon Prime), CDs, travel brochures, how-to manuals, tax paperwork and even tax preparation, toys, puzzles, cake pans, video games (with or without the gaming console), kindles, laptops and other electronic stuff I don’t understand, audio books and play-aways, voter registrations and voters guides, hobby supplies, costumes, stuffed animals, puppets, musical instruments, gardening supplies and seeds (we got a bunch of flower seeds last year!), digital books, movies, and music, board games, knitting needles, crafting and scrapbooking supplies, karaoke machines, and artwork (both wall and sculpture). Almost all libraries offer free wifi, computers and laptops, help with resume writing and other job-searching activities. And more and more libraries are helping the public with their personal electronics. (I have had a librarian fix my phone, set up a cloud for my pictures, and teach me how to make my email more streamlined.)
Libraries give out a lot of SWAG too. Our library has given out; eyeglass and electronic cleaning cloths, frisbees, balls, pens with a stylus on the end, zip-drives, chip clips, magnets, bookmarks, electronic charging bars, pencils that change color with heat, ear buds, stickers, worksheets and coloring pages, temporary tattoos, bumper stickers, magnifying glasses, and more.
The programs are the un-sung heroes of the library, they are amazing (and also free!). This week we have two story-times for the kids, a book club for me, a computer class for Fifi, and a “Game Time” program for L.L. The programs that are offered are so varied, I can’t even begin to give them justice, a few of the ones we have taken advantage of are lego programs, kids educational and fun programs, teen coffee house hours, yoga, living history programs, local music and theatre performances, geneology assistance, electronics classes (I just took one on how to use my phone), crafting programs (everything you can think of and more – pillowcases, wreaths, scrapbooks, needle felting, etc.). My DH and Fifi had a blast doing an “Escape room” that one of our local libraries set up. Really the offerings are so varied, you just have to see what yours has to offer.
Your homework is to GO TO YOUR LIBRARY. Wander around, talk to the librarians, ask questions. Get a program guide. Librarians are amazing people who really want to help you get the most out of your library. I can go on and on about how much our family LOVES our librarians! See what your library can offer you. For those of you that are on our spending fast and anyone who would like to save money, a library is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Allow yourself to “shop” around the library. Think of what each person in your family might enjoy and bring home gifts for them. Our kids love to go to the library and pick out items that others in our family might enjoy. There is a library high that is like the high that some people experience when shopping. However there is NO GUILT AFTERWARD!
“Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.” – Anne Herbert
An AMAZINGLY SIMPLE field trip!