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Check it Out: 10 Ways the Library Can Help Your Family

Your local library is a treasure trove of free information and resources for the whole family. September is Library Card Sign-Up Month, so head to your library and check it out!

By
Cheryl Butler

One of the simplest ways you can encourage your child’s academic success is by making regular trips to the library. If you haven’t visited the library recently with your family, September is the perfect month to head on over and see all the new programs, resources, and services it offers in addition to the endless supply of wonderful books that are available for free. September is Library Card Sign-Up month so there's no better time to check it out.

Here are 10 ways your family can take advantage of your local library:

  1. Story hours for young kids.  Many of these include an imaginative story and a creative craft or activity to help children associate books and reading with fun. Attending your local library's story hour is also a great way to meet other parents or grandparents who have children the same age as yours. So don’t be shy - bring the young child in your life to take part in this rewarding and enriching experience.

  2. Rent ebooks for free.  In addition to print books, magazines, CDs and DVDs, computers games, software, and other multimedia materials, libraries are increasingly offering members free access to ebooks and ebook readers. 

  3. Rent classic films for free.  Your family movie night can start off each week at the library. Choose from fun, family-friendly classics like The Nutty Professor and The Sound of Music; or introduce your older children to classic Alfred Hitchcock films.

  4. Teen-focused books and classes. These includ photography, journalism, creative arts, cooking, and more.  Guest speakers often visit to give talks on topics such as applying and paying for college, finding scholarships, building your own “teen cave,” and many others. 

  5. Databases allow free access to helpful resources.  The Academic Search Elite indexes thousands of publications. Full text is available for articles in a variety of subjects such as biology, chemistry, engineering, physics, psychology, theology, and much more.  You can also access many local and national newspapers, the Funk and Wagnall's New Encyclopedia, and depending on your particular library, you can access dozens of online databases covering everything from health to consumer reports to eco-friendly ways of living.

  6. Discover your family tree.  Many libraries have access to research materials for tracing family history. These databases includes original page images from thousands of books and the entire U.S. Federal Census. Census records can be searched by name, place of birth, age, ethnicity, and other variables. Get your kids involved in researching your genealogy and see what surprises you can uncover together.

  7. Get free or discounted museum passes.  Check out your library for discounted museum passes to local museums, aquariums, and the zoo.

  8. Play games.  Many libraries have family game nights, which are a fun time to gather with neighbors and friends. In addition to classic board games, many libraries have Wii games for kids and adults.  See also: Why Should You Play Board Games with Your Kids?

  9. Community service opportunities.  Your local library is a great resource to help tweens and teens get involved in community service projects.  Check with your librarian to see if any volunteer opportunities are available in your neighborhood or even at the library itself.  The library bulletin board often contains notices for events happening in the vicinity that might be of interest to civic-minded young adults.

  10. A quiet getaway for sudying.  Sometimes a student just needs a change of scenery to get focused and complete a homework assignment or project. A quiet hub in your hometown library may be the perfect spot.  Your child will have a peaceful place to study and have immediate access to books, databases, computers, and printers. If your child gets into the habit of using the valuable resources the local library has to offer, it will become a a regular part of his life for years to come.

So grab your library card and check out all the great things your local branch can do for your family!

About the Author

Cheryl Butler

Cheryl L. Butler is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. Call the Mighty Mommy listener line at 401-284-7575 to ask a parenting question. Your call could be featured on the show!

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