Friday, January 27, 2012

Free Books and So Much More at the Local Library

Learn About Science at the Public Library © Katrena
Where can you play a didgeridoo, make an origami heart, and watch a puppet show? Where can you find resources for learning how to train a dog, finding which state was the first to allow women to vote, communicating more effectively, and learning ways to protect the environment? Perhaps you are looking for award winning recipes, cool music, movies, or a way to use a computer for free? You can find all of the above and more at the public library, of course!

Free Magic Show at the Library © Katrena
Some of my earliest memories are going to the local county library with my mom. I recall anxiously awaiting the arrival of the bookmobile near my home on special occasions, but I also loved to travel into town, park near the gingko tree, and head inside the public library to see what treasures were waiting for me. Actually, any day was special to me if it meant that I could look through shelf after shelf of books!

Learn About Cultures at the Local Library © Katrena
I was so proud to get a library card all my own...actually, I found that old card a few weeks back as I was going through some old paperwork. What memories! Library cards were paper with a metal piece in them. Back in those days, they had a card catalog with each book's information carefully written on a piece of paper about the size of an index card. These cards were housed in large wooden cabinets with long, narrow drawers. The Dewey Decimal system was one way that I learned about numbers as a kid.

Get Creative With Crafts at the Library © Katrena
After selecting the perfect books, Mom and I would walk up to the desk. I remember I had to stand on my toes to see over the desk. The ladies who worked at the library would quickly pull the paper card out of the back of each book and stamp the due date. Later, they would place the library card in a slot and would quickly slide each book's card into another slot until it made a loud noise. If one side was full, they would turn the card around, or they might need a brand new card, especially on books that were checked out over and over. Most of the librarians had worked there for years and were really fast. Some of those ladies still work at the library, how libraries have changed.

Play Music on Instruments at the Library © Katrena
Books and other items are indexed on computerized systems now, and library cards in our area are plastic at this point. Some libraries will take your picture when you get a card so that they can ensure that the card is your own. For some reason, I had always thought you had to live within a particular county in order to get a library card in that area, but I was delighted to discover that many libraries in our area will allow people to get a free library card even if you live outside the county.

See Skits Based on Books at Public Library © Katrena
The girls and I love to visit several libraries. They often offer story times for the younger children on a regular basis. Holidays are often celebrated at the library with skits, crafts, speakers, refreshments, and other group activities. Many libraries have book sales in which you may find some great deals on books and other resources for purchase. Most libraries offer computers that patrons can use for research, using the internet, and more.

Free Family Activities at Public Library © Katrena
Summer reading programs offer kids an incentive for reading and attending programs. I have been particularly impressed with the wide variety of programs the libraries have offered, such as:
  • Magic shows, often with an educational theme
  • Musical programs, with everything from folk singing to drum circles
  • Performances based on books, such as a ballet demonstration by some dancers from The Nutcracker
  • Science programs, such as Mad Science
  • Presentations by authors
  • Living history programs
  • Cultural educational programs
Learn About Recycling and Saving the Environment at the Library © Katrena
The public library offers a wealth of information for free. It is great to have a bag of books and videos handy for days when the kids are out of school for weather or illness. I found that I can check out a wide variety of resources, such as:
  • Books (many libraries have interlibrary loans if that location does not carry the book)
  • Magazines (I only recently discovered that I can check out magazines for adults or kids)
  • Books on CD and tape (yes, I still have a tape player in my car and I particularly enjoy hearing storytelling on tape as I drive from place to place)
  • Musical CDs and tapes (they will probably phase out the tapes at some point, but I love to check out new music for us to enjoy)
  • Movies (I have found a variety of movies for kids and adults, exercise videos, series from sitcoms, history movies, and lots more)
  • Computer games
Fairy Tales From Foreign Lands Puppet Show at Library © Katrena
Those who enjoy researching family history may find great resources at the public library. They may have information that cannot easily be found elsewhere. Many of the people who frequent the geneology section may help others to find great resources that may save time in searching.

Holiday Celebrations Through Books and Storytelling © Katrena
We have also enjoyed a great variety of  displays at public libraries. We have seen beautiful artwork, a collection of nativity scenes from various countries, vintage baby dolls, original craft items, and much more.

Have Fun Together at Local Library © Katrena
Some libraries may offer classes to help people to learn a variety of skills, such as basic computer skills, simple web design, how to use a word processor, and more. I have found library staff members to be very helpful and friendly. They often know the answers to my weird questions such as "I'm thinking of a kids' book with a tree and letters on the tree but can't think of the name of it..."

Young, Old, and Furry Friends Welcome at Library © Katrena
Libraries may offer traveling services to certain populations, and I have found library web sites to be helpful because I can renew my items online and they may offer free access to some web sites that would typically charge a fee. As ebooks are becoming more common and popular, many libraries are offering some of these for free check-out as well.

Books, Movies, Music, and More at the Library © Katrena
Yes, libraries have changed quite a bit over the years, but I still enjoy huddling up with the kids and reading a good book. My kids have grown up surrounded with lots of books and other educational resources provided for free by our public libraries.

To all of those instrumental in providing these wonderful services, I want to say a huge THANKS!

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