I don’t sing the praises of our libraries enough. I’ve learned from other moms that not all libraries systems are the same, and after moving to a county that happens to be more rural (though our neighborhood is not), I’ve seen what it means to not have all the library gems at your fingertips.
Cross county library cards
I feel a bit guilty, but as soon as I found out that I could use my local library card at the next county over, I almost exclusively use it there. I’ve lived my whole life in larger suburban and urban counties where they have the buying power to have many library amenities available. Then I move to our more rural county and all of a sudden I can’t even pay my library fines online, not to mention the smaller book selection, non-fiction kids books mixed in with the adult books (probably to save space), and no ongoing book sale to rummage through!
I’ve been spoiled in my library ways, so the cross county library cards are critical to our frequent use of the library.
Years ago I reviewed Mango Languages and I still have not found a better online self-taught language learning solution. The Pim videos for kids are fun to watch, and they even have a mobile app you can use, all free with a valid library account in a county that has a relationship with them. There’s even a handy-dandy search to see if Mango Languages is at your local library.
We have started to allow some computer games for Aamina now that she’s in Kindergarten. Mostly, we stick to Reading Eggs, Starfall, and Minecraft, but I know there are lots of other beneficial games for kids. The thing is, I’m not ready to open up the Internet for my kids to explore more games, and I don’t want to purchase a ton of games for our home computer. Instead, my kids make a bee line to the computers to play games when we go to the library. At first it used to bug me because in my mind, that’s not why we’re there! After a while I realized we are taking home more books than we end up reading anyway, so there’s no harm done. The love for books has not dwindled.
This is my favorite gem at the library! Just like I’m not ready to open up more of the Internet to my young kids, I don’t want to sink money into a tablet yet, and then have to deal with the fights over whose turn it is, deciding what apps we’ll get, and how to manage the parental controls. Both Hubby and I have a degree in IT, but my goodness, things change so fast, it’s even hard for us to keep up!
Our library carries the Playaway Launchpad tablets, which come pre-loaded with apps centering around a certain theme. Sometimes we’ll pick up the STEAM tablet, aimed at 5-7 year olds, or a creative tablet aimed at 3-5 year olds, or whatever they have at the time that my kids are interested in. What’s awesome with using tablets at the library is the kids know that if they don’t share it nicely, we just won’t pick up a tablet the next time! I have no commitment to keep a tablet in the house.
Museum and theater tickets
Can you believe I can get tickets to the museums and plays through our library? In the Twin Cities metro area, the libraries use the smART Pass program, but I imagine other metro libraries may carry something similar. You can check out tickets for free or at a discount so you can take advantage of the arts. It can be so expensive to expose kids to the arts, but something like this really takes the edge off the cost!
If I really love a book, I usually want to own it and have it on hand, but the library now has so much more than just books. We are always renting audio books, non-fiction books about passing curiosities, reference books that would be dated too quickly for us to buy it at home (i.e. Day Trips in Minnesota is one that comes to mind), and taking advantage of amenities the library offers. I love that our library feels like a community space and resource, and we make a point to get there as much as we can.
What gems do you have at your library that you love?
And don’t forget to check out how other homeschool moms use the library! iHomeschool Network bloggers are sharing their favorite activities and gems at their home libraries!