There’s more to li­braries than books


My baby is old enough to get bored. I know this be­cause he griz­zles when I read him the same story three times in one day. Or maybe that’s me.

So I asked my friend Google if there were any kid-friendly ac­tiv­i­ties in my neigh­bour­hood that would keep him en­ter­tained and give me a lit­tle piece of my san­ity back. It turns out that my lo­cal li­brary was the place to be.

Jack and I rocked up to Wrig­gle and Rhyme on Tues­day morn­ing for a fun hour of wrig­gling and rhyming. We sang, danced, bopped noses, and did spirit fin­gers. We said ‘‘hello’’ to other ba­bies and com­mented on their cute­ness to their mums. We smiled at scream­ing ba­bies and pre­tended it wasn’t hap­pen­ing so those ma­mas didn’t feel em­bar­rassed that their child was hav­ing a tantrum in the mid­dle of a place that’s meant to be qui­eter than a mouse. And the best bit? It was to­tally free.

I had no idea the li­brary put this sort of thing on. There were about 40 other big peo­ple with lit­tle peo­ple there (and this was the sec­ond ses­sion of the day), so ob­vi­ously plenty of oth­ers did. That got me think­ing. What else does my lo­cal li­brary do that I wouldn’t have even thought of? It turns out… quite a lot.

Most li­braries of­fer free ac­cess to com­put­ers and the in­ter­net, which is awe­some for peo­ple who don’t have ac­cess at home. Some of­fer com­puter classes for peo­ple who aren’t very tech­no­log­i­cally savvy. There’s also sup­port out there for any­one look­ing to up­skill, in­clud­ing CV writ­ing and Mi­crosoft Of­fice train­ing, and most li­braries let you use their print­ing and pho­to­copy­ing ser­vices for a small charge.

Aside from ba­sic in­fant ed­u­ca­tion like Wrig­gle and Rhyme, some li­braries of­fer other kid-re­lated ser­vices like af­ter­school clubs, school hol­i­day pro­grammes and home­work cen­tres. Many com­mu­ni­ties also have a toy li­brary which is a great ser­vice for fam­i­lies who can’t af­ford their own or want to cut down on clut­ter.

The house­bound mem­bers of our com­mu­ni­ties aren’t for­got­ten about ei­ther. Some li­braries of­fer mo­bile ser­vices for peo­ple who can’t leave their homes and don’t have any­one who can take them out. A li­brar­ian es­tab­lishes your read­ing pref­er­ences and a good read­ing sched­ule, then de­liv­ers suit­able books and mag­a­zines straight to your door and re­turns the ones you’ve read.

Some li­braries are even tack­ling the age of tech­nol­ogy head-on and hold­ing work­shops where peo­ple can make things like ro­bots, mo­bile apps, dig­i­tal mu­sic and learn about 3D print­ing.

The moral of the story is: the hum­ble li­brary isn’t just about the book any­more. In fact, it could be the heart of your com­mu­nity with­out you even know­ing it. It’s free to join and 99.99 per cent free to use, and ev­ery mem­ber of your fam­ily is catered for. Not sure what your li­brary of­fers? Ask your neigh­bours on Neigh­bourly or just turn up. They’d like that.

There are lots of events for young­sters at your lo­cal li­brary.

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