If we're raising readers with voracious literary appetites, we're going to have to make friends with the local library. Whether you live in an area where the libraries rival major bookstores or have more modest collections at your disposal, here are three basic tips for getting the most out of your visits:
- Be a list maker and taker. There are a number of great sites and tools to help you collect and organize things like book lists, but sometimes low-tech is the easiest. I punch holes in the corner of a small stack of index cards and insert a small binder ring to keep them together. Then, when I come across a book for one of us to read, I just jot it down on the list so that the next time I'm at the library (or computer) I have something to guide my selection efforts. (There's also a card for the pesky info I can never seem to remember, like what kind of ink our printer needs.)
- Don't limit your choices to what you see on the shelf. Learning how to place books on hold can unlock a secret stash of popular titles that may take months to trickle into normal circulation. So let's say you make a list as recommended above and take it to your library only to discover that all these exciting prospects are checked out. Don't give up there. Take a number, library style! Since our library offers the ability to place holds online, I love to come home from the bookstore with a juicy list of new books and search for them on our library website. Frequently, I'll find that the book is on order and we can be the first one in line to place a hold. A few weeks later, we have a fresh and shiny book in our hands for free!
- Get a good reminder system in place for renewals. It's no fun being the prodigal son of the library, and it won't do you much good if you're avoiding it because of astronomical fines. Even though our library doesn't charge fines, we can't renew books online once they are overdue, and we can't pick up books on hold either. Write the renewal date in your calendar as soon as you get home, or better yet, set yourself a reminder in an online calendar and you can get a handy message when it's time to renew.
These ideas are by no means super slick library hacks (just google library hacks and you'll see what I mean). But, our goal with Family Reads is to both enrich and simplify your family's life, and adopting these easy habits has made a big difference in our library experience!