5 Ways to Maximize Your Public Library Experience

Have you explored all that your public library offers? Here’s how to use the many free community and learning resources for kids, tweens, and adults from Nina Simone.

A few summers ago, we spent six weeks away from home. My one requirement? A nearby public library. I’ve learned that libraries, small or large, give us  so much more than books (and we check out plenty of those.) They connect communities with free content and activities for all ages. Here are the top 5 ways to use your public library.

1. Borrow Books from Your Public Library

Use your library by using their lending services. Most people think first (or only) of lending when they think of public library services. But remember, you can borrow more than books, and you do not have to show up to find out if your library has what you want on the shelf.

You can reserve books, audiobooks, CDs, and DVDs through your public library website. When you request a material and it’s not available at your library branch, your public library will transfer the book, CD, or DVDs from its other branches.

Your public library lends materials for all ages. Public libraries lend lift-the-flap books, picture books, and audiobooks for children, as well as all kinds of material for tweens, teenagers, and adults.

Is your kid really into that one Graphic Novel Series? Your local library carries the series, and if it’s popular, your public library holds multiple copies.

Often, your public library will carry more options than your child’s school library and is able to get new books more quickly. To use your public library by borrowing, make sure you and your school-age children learn to search the database and reserve favorite books and stories ahead of time.

2. Use Your Public Library for Streaming

Your public library offers streaming services for music, audiobooks, and movies for all ages. Using your library cardyou have free access to a large amount of content that will stream directly to your device. To use your public library this way,  follow instructions for streaming on its website. There may be a waiting time, but again, the content is free, and you do not risk the overdue fines with streaming services.

3.  Go to Programs at the Library

An important way to use your local library is to check monthly calendars for events and programs. It likely offers weekly storytimes for children, discussion groups, lectures, craft times, playtimes, and reading events such as author visits and “Paws to Read,”  events where children get to read aloud to therapy dogs.

Programs at your library are free and they offer opportunities to meet with others who hold similar interests. Are you new to town? Use your library by attending programs and introducing yourself to others. A baby storytime can help new parents meet and a lecture on science or gardening helps hobbyists find each other.

Some public libraries have auditoriums in which they will host film series, local theater groups, and children’s shows. Use your public library by choosing to attend free community arts events.

4. Join Clubs at Your Library

Explore different clubs you and your family members can join at your local library. Many public libraries host book clubsfor kids, tweens, teens, and adults. Adult book clubs can focus on one type of book that readers enjoy such as Sci-Fi, or historical fiction. Sometimes, these book clubs can change the subject each month. Most public libraries host a Summer Reading Club for children, tweens, and teenagers which provide prizes and activities for kids who read and track their reading each week.

Public libraries put a lot of time and resources into Summer Reading programs. They usually provide extra shows, and activities throughout the summer. Your child’s school may have a summer reading requirement and the programs at your library can make meeting the requirement more exciting.

5. Talk With a Librarian

Every library system hosts a website where you can search and reserve books and often view calendars of events. However, one of the best ways to use your library is to talk to a librarian. Librarians in local public libraries can help you and your family search for materials, begin streaming, learn your way around, and find programs and clubs that meet your interests.

Public libraries work hard to support learning and community activities. The next time you have nothing to read, watch, or go to, use your public library for free content and programs. Chances are your library offers more than you realized!

If you’re spending some time away as we did, you can check for local public libraries here.

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