Online Library Catalogs Make Weekly Family Library Trips Easier On Everyone

My favorite place in the world is the library. I remember the first time I went to one. It’s was First Grade. We actually walked there, because the library was very close to our elementary school. We took a shortcut through the cemetery. Once we arrived, we met the librarian at the circulation desk and headed to the Children’s Section. The colorful layout and the assortment of books was mesmerizing. We stayed for story time, picked out a book, and signed up for a library card. This was a core memory for me, because public access to libraries is such a cost effective way to have fun. That is why it’s important to me for my kids to feel comfortable in a library. I’ll admit it can be a bit overwhelming for first-timers.

The abundance of books and media makes it hard to decide where to start. Since the DVD section was much smaller than the wall to wall books, the kiddos picked out a few movies each. As a family we picked out a few books they were familiar with or had an interest in. A few trips like this was a little counterproductive. They were trying out new shows and movies but the books got little to no attention. So, I decided to start searching for books by topic. I was already doing this for me. So why not them?

Online Search Yields More Results than  Walkthrough

I get it. The Dewey Decimal System is how books are arranged in the library. This is done alphabetical by fiction and by topic then alphabetical order for non-fiction. Add the bookshelves and the world is your oyster. However, a walkthrough is time consuming. The front and back cover is going to tell me more than the spine. Searching in-person cuts down on the time I spend getting my children comfortable with the library, because they are standing around waiting for me. My youngest will just grab a book and see where it goes. My oldest is less adventures. He’d rather go to a specific section and see what they have. If the book doesn’t effectively express it’s content, he’ll put it back without a second thought. That’s where I come in as a facilitator. I use my childrens current interest to find books on our local libraries online catalogue. I keep the search terms general. This way, I don’t cut myself off from potential options. If you think the online approach limits what I can see about the book. That’s is not the case. The books description and characteristics will give me a good idea of what I may checkout later. Searching for books is not the only thing I can do.

Put Books on Hold and Pick Them Up on the Way Out

At first, I was using the catalogue to find books. I’d write the title and call number in my tiny notebook and search with my kids. This sounds like a good idea in theory, but the book hunt has a down side. Some children’s books call numbers are just a letter. Since kids are encouraged to look for books, they don’t always put them back were they’re supposed to be. So, it can be hit and miss finding it on our own. Again, the library is part of our weekend errands. So, we limit how much time we spend here. To save time, I made a short in-person search list for the kids and put books on hold. After all, it’s first come first serve at the library. I like to make sure we leave with something. It’s important to be flexible.

Be Mindful of the Library Staffs Time

When I started requesting holds. I was able to put them on hold two days from the date I planned to pick them up. I did this for about three months. One day, they weren’t there. I was only able to find four of the six books that I wanted to borrow. Staff is limited. They cover down for each other by rotating to different sections of the library.  Just because they can fill short notice request doesn’t mean we should make a habit of short changing them. Book holds can range from three to seven days. There’s no need to wait till the last minute and expect to have your items ready to go every single time.

Tracking Due Dates and Renewing Items in the Palm of Your hand

Once the hold is filled, my library sends an email notification and the staff call too. Many libraries in the U.S. let you check out books for 3-weeks. Media like movies, games, and educational resources are typically a week. We go weekly, because my children borrow DVDs. As a result, items might be due in one thru three weeks. We try to go to the library weekly. If we don’t have time, I log into my library account and check on due dates. There’s an option to renewal all or renew selected. What if the website is down? No problem, I can review my library receipt and call the circulation desk to renew my books. It isn’t my first choice, but it’s just as effective.

Building Relationships with Community Helpers

Sometimes people forget librarians are community helpers. Their roles within a community is taught at an early age. Libraries are a hub of information and possibilities. Librarians can be guides and facilitators of  our journeys within it. If you have questions, ask them? Children model behavior. Watching their parents speak with let’s say the Children’s Section Librarian will encourage them to ask for help too. Even the Children’s Section can look intimidating. There is someone outside of their family that can help If it sounds like I am contradicting myself. I am not. After the kids pick their movies, they are given an opportunity to search for books. I just make sure we keep a fresh rotation of children’s fiction and nonfiction books at home. It makes it easier to identify books worth buying. A useless book is a paper weight.

Wrapping Things Up

When I give librarians time to fulfill my request, I have a good idea of how much time my family will spend in the library. Since lending is first come first serve, I have a better chance of getting what I wanted. As a result, I can ease my kids into what libraries have to offer. It holds there interest long enough for us to explore a bit, pick out new items, checkout, and move on to our next errand. When we get home, they can look over the bounty and decide what they want to read or watch first. Plus, the libraries resources are free-ninety-nine. Mom saves a lot of money. I can try before I buy…or just borrow it again. Either way, the internet has made it much easier to use the Dewey Decimal System. I am thankful for it. By the way, I am a sucker for seasonal, theme, and new items displays. So, I have more time to look those over and impulse borrow, which I let my kids do too.

How often do you visit your local library?

Do you search on a whim or go in with a plan?

For parents, do you go solo for me-time or make it a family trip?

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