Resource: Your Public Library

Your local public library is your best resource for investigating books to decide whether you want your children to read them, and a trip to the library can instantly rejuvenate a tired reading basket.  It is an indispensable resource for responding to teachable seasons when children want to investigate topics (for example, after riding a pony a child may become especially interested in reading about ponies, or you might check out a few books about apples during apple harvest).

According to Kathleen Horning, the market for children’s books developed largely in response to public libraries and schools.  In the 1970s-80s the market began turning toward consumer sales, but librarians’ choices still influence publishers’ decisions about what books to publish.  Your local library’s selection will reflect the priorities and values of your local community as well as the American Library Associations’ philosophy, which depending on where you live may or may not align well with your family’s priorities.  As you utilize the library, your choices will influence the priorities of your local branch.

A few recommendations for maximizing your use of the library:

  • Make use of online web access provided to check due dates and renew titles.  Overdue fines can really add up if you max out your library card regularly.  Most libraries will allow you to check an option on your account to receive an email when a book is due or overdue.
  • Many libraries allow you to request books to be pulled from the shelves for you to pick up.  You can save time by having someone else (who knows the library well and has no small children along) do the searching, although you do pass up the chance to discover related books on the same shelf.  At our local library this process can take anywhere from one day to three weeks, so it’s not the best option for time-sensitive titles.
  • When a book is unavailable at your local branch, you can request it from another library in your county, through a library consortium, or through interlibrary loan (links are for our local library).  These options generally take longer and allow you to keep the book for a shorter period of time, but they still provide an opportunity to examine a book before deciding whether you want your kids to read it.

Your use of the local library is prepaid through your taxes, and may be the single best resource for keeping the cost of your home library within reasonable limits.  Whether you prefer a “discovery trek,” when you browse the shelves for new finds, or if you let your fingers do the walking as you peruse a book list, your public library can provide you with a vast array of books to enjoy.

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Publication Information: . Your Public Library. . .
Categories: Resources

Posted on July 6, 2009


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