Why We Love Libraries
May 31, 2012
Spending time with young children gives parents a chance to reconnect with many wonderful things from our past. Among the very best, libraries.
Back when we were kids and students, some of us spent a lot of time in libraries. We were doing research for papers, studying for exams or simply browsing around to find the next great read.
The world has changed so much, however, that we just don't know whether our children will spend of the years of their youth in and out of libraries the way we did. While they are small, though, we still have the chance to expose our kids to the wonders of libraries and, at the same time, enjoy them again ourselves.
As a gentle nudge to get all of us parents and kids over to our local library very soon, let us enumerate some of the things that we love about libraries:
- Quiet. What parent doesn't love quiet? Enough said.
- Free books, audiotapes, videos. For kids, a library is like a candy store where anything is allowed, and everything is free. Amazing!! (We feel the same way.)
- Advice from librarians about books that are age-appropriate, along your child's interest lines and fun to read. This is an invaluable service.
- Story hours, books clubs, exhibits, author talks and more. Libraries are an easy and wonderful way to meet other book lovers and build community.
- Libraries are for everyone. It's great for kids to see that people of all ages and from all walks of life come together in libraries.
- Old and new books. We love bookstores too, but they don't often carry titles that are out-of-print, and those are some of our very favorites. Libraries connect us to the past, and this is especially important for the youngest among us.
- My very own library card. The kids won't be getting a driver's license for quite a while, and bank and credit cards are a long way off as well. Indeed, a library card is the first formal recognition that many kids get of their status as members of a community (other than the Social Security card we have stashed away). In other words, quite a milestone!
- Somewhere to go on a rainy day. Every caregiver needs a back-up plan for rainy afternoons with the kids: easy, the library.
- Answer any question, follow any interest. In the age of search-engines, we may think we don't need libraries anymore. But the next time your child has one of those stumper questions (why is the sky blue? where did people come from?), see if you can't answer it better at the library.
- The magic. There's something entrancing and almost mystical about a library, whatever its size or character. The classic coming-of-age story A Tree Grows in Brooklyn puts it better than I can: "The library was a little old shabby place. Francie thought it was beautiful. The feeling she had about it was as good as the feeling she had about church. She pushed open the door and went in. She liked the combined smell of worn leather bindings, library paste and freshly inked stamping pads...." These kinds of childhood sensory memories always remain with us -- let's give them to our kids while we can.