Now I wanted to mention programming and the library staff!
A staple of many libraries are storytimes. Typically, you’ll find ones for preschoolers and the occasional one for babies and toddlers. However, you might find that there are programs for even your older children. We’ve seen some for school aged kids meeting after school hours and they have provided the boys with both a group experience and exposure to materials I might not have ever sought out.
Back in Maryland, the older boys had ‘reading clubs’ they could join. They would get a paperback book to read and then came in to discuss it with the group. P did this for over a year while R only had the opportunity during the summer programs. Both boys were uncertain how they would like it, but always came away happy to have participated.
One of the children’s librarians at the main county branch in Maryland started up a geography themed program while we were there after I shared about one the boys attended in Ohio. The one in Ohio was an around the world theme with a different country being ‘visited’ for the monthly program. The boys had passports made up for the program with their photo from the first session. Between video, books, presentations by community members, and food, they had a great experience. If my memory is working well, I believe the librarians got the idea after seeing the homeschool geography club in which we participated and used space there for meeting. The same library also held ‘cooking club’ for preschoolers with easy to make items.
Currently, we have been attending a series at the local branch titled “Science in the Library.” The mom who volunteers to do this has her training in geology, but loves to share other areas of science as well with the kids. While chatting at the one this week, I asked her how long she’s been volunteering in this capacity. After a little thought, she realized it has been 10 years since it started. I suspected it had been a while as she had so much ready to share with the kids on the different topics. Last spring we had geology topics (Diamonds, Rubies and Emeralds; Gold, and Oil.) This year is more about animals from natural history (Animals of the Ice Age; Swimming and Flying Creatures.) I’ve got a few other sessions we’ve attended to post about soon.
Beyond planning programs, you might find other services the librarians will provide. It could be as simple as asking for recommendations on a particular topic you are studying. Or maybe you or your student is stumped on something you are researching. They just might have a suggestion to help you find the resources you need. Most of the libraries I have visited will put out information sheets that guide you towards resources or reading suggestions. We’ve always enjoyed the “If you liked Book A, you should try reading…” ones. I also love to see what books the librarians are reading or count among their favorites.
At one library we frequented in Ohio, the children’s library staff would put together travel bags for you based on the interest survey you filled out. The lending period was lengthened for the bundle and each time we did avail ourselves of the service we had a wonderful experience.
While I am sure there may be exceptions out there, I have found that most library staff want to help the patrons. With so many budget cuts out there, I am sure there are some rather lean operations where they barely have the ability to keep up with circulation issues. But, nothing ventured is nothing gained. Just don’t forget to thank your librarians for all they do to help make it a wonderful place for both learning and pleasure.