This week’s resource review is an ode to my favourite institution: The Public Library. Our local library is a weekly destination for my girls and I, and we come home each week with armfuls of books. Here’s my reasons for lovin’ my public library so much, and why I think it’s a useful resource for all parents.
Libraries are for Learning
Want to learn how to speak French, or how to can plum jam, or the basics of Non Violent Communication, or find out which behaviours are developmentally appropriate for a three-year old? Go to the library! Libraries are treasure troves of information, and if you can’t find what you want there is a helpful librarian there to assist you. Spending time at the library with your kids shows them that learning is a lifelong venture that both adults and kids engage in, and exposes them to the worlds of science, technology, literature, ancient history, folklore and art within the pages of books or other media.
Libraries are Free
No matter where our budget is at, I love walking the shelves of our library and thinking, “I’ll take that one, and that one, and this one too!” I don’t have to check the prices or make tough decisions about which wonderful book to leave on the shelf, except when it comes to borrowing only what I can carry home. There have been a few times that I decided that a particular book was too good to return to the library permanently, so I bought a copy to have as a reference on my bookshelves at home, but at least I knew that it was a great book that I wanted to have around. There is nothing worse than buying a book or CD, getting it home and discovering that it’s junk.
Libraries are Social
We often meet neighbourhood friends and acquaintances while visiting our local library, and we meet new friends and neighbours at library programs like family storytime. When the playgrounds are deserted in the wintertime, the library and indoor kindergym take their place as the public hub of the parent and tot social scene.
Libraries are Extensive
When I’m searching for a particular parenting resource, I can almost always find it in my public library’s catalogue. I feel lucky to have such an extensive and well-supported library nearby, with the option to request books from other libraries across the city and have them delivered to my local branch. I know not all parents are so lucky, and that some libraries don’t have such an extensive collection – when I was living in Ireland my local library consisted mostly of romance and mystery paperbacks – but most libraries in big cities have a large collection of books across all genres, including up to date parenting books.
Learning about parenting or anything else often involves a lot of reading. I like to read many different perspectives on the same issues, and there is no way I’d be able to afford to buy every parenting book I’ve ever read. My public library makes it easier for me to learn and grow as a parent by making resources available at no cost. The difficult part, evaluating and making changes to my own behaviour, is still up to me, but at least I can borrow and read as many books on the subject as I want.