15 Reasons to Love the Library!

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Did you know that March is National Reading Month?  I think it's mainly because Read Across America Day is held on March 2nd, which just happens to be the birthday of Dr. Seuss.  Not only that, but our friends across the pond enjoy their own celebration of reading this month with World Book Day(Have a child in school in the UK or Ireland and looking for costume ideas?  See what Gv and I did on her first Halloween, when we held our own little book character parade!) 

So with all these books being devoured and pages being flipped in homes all around the world, I figured it was time to make myself finally publish a post that I've had written for ages (almost since I started this blog last year) ‐ I'm going to give you 15 reasons to love the library!


The library is practically a home away from home for us; we make a family trek there every weekend and several other trips separately during the week.  The connection isn't just limited to visits in person, either.  We're on the library website constantly ‐ so often that its homepage boots up right along with the Internet on our computers!

What's so wonderful about the library? 

You might be surprised to find out that it's so much more than just books!


I worked at a library while I was in college.  I was excited to get the job because I have always loved to read.  Growing up, some of my best friends were Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and Cherry Ames, so I knew working in the place that introduced me to so many amazing adventures would be a perfect fit.

The experience turned out to be so much more than that and opened my eyes to the almost limitless possibilities that a library can offer you.  Here are my best tips for making the most of your neighborhood library:

Tip #1:  Have a set day that you always take care of your library business.  For us, this is every Saturday.  You might not need to go as frequently, so once a month might work better for you.  I always joke that we've got half the library checked out and sitting on our shelves here at home, so it's essential for us to make the trip every week if we want to avoid fines.  We're able to renew books online from home if they aren't requested by someone else, but after two renewals, we have to return them.  Of course, we can always check them in and then back out again onto a different card, which leads me to...

Tip #2:  Get a library card for everyone, even if they aren't interested in checking books out.  Everyone means getting one for Gv just one week after she was born. {grin}  Having more cards means not only being able to check out more goodies, but being able to keep some books out forever (by returning and rechecking them out on a different card) if no one else is requesting them.  Yes, this tip opens you up to a greater chance for fines, but if you follow tip #1, that won't be an issue.  It also helps if you...

Tip #3:  Know your library's staff.  We all know each other by name and the staff knows our reading habits, which means when they come across something we might like, they let us know (both in terms of books and events).  For example, we were checking out lots of books on chickens a while back and our favorite library assistant put us in touch with another patron who raised chickens and ran a website detailing all things fowl for our county.  Knowing the staff so well also means that on those rare occasions when we're a day or two late with our books, we sometimes aren't charged for it.  Since the staff is well aware that we usually always return things on time, they are more apt to help us out.  Additionally, the staff always goes out of their way to help us get requests, which leads to...

Tip #4:  Requesting books to be held for you.  Your local library most likely has some system for requesting books from other branches or asking to hold an item (that is currently checked out) for you when it is returned.  Some libraries (like the one I worked at in college) charge a small fee for this service, but I've found that most do not.  We literally have an entire shelf set aside at our library branch for the Healy Holds since we get so much of our material in this way.  Because our library system is extensive and covers a large geographical area, this means that we have access to books from over 31 different locations!  That translates to us being able to get pretty much anything we're interested in, but sometimes we have some pretty unusual requests (ahem, An Introduction to Analysis: From Number to Integral) that our library system doesn't have, which means we can...

Tip #5:  Request the item as an Interlibrary Loan.  Again, some libraries charge for this, but most don't.  What this means is that if you're interested in an item that your library doesn't have, it can be borrowed from another library somewhere else.  Like from a small college library that's 3,000 miles away (the obscure title above's author taught at the college that sent the book he was probably thrilled to have someone ask for it)!  Another way to get materials that your library doesn't physically have on the shelf is to...

Tip #6:  Check out Ebooks.  If you have some sort of Ereader, then you might already know how great this option is.  But did you know that even if you don't have that fancy little piece of technology, you can still get Ebooks on your computer?  You might have to download a bit of free software to do this, but then you can check out items instantly and from the comfort of your own home!  This is especially helpful if...

Tip #7:  You want to look at a book to see if it's worth buying.  So often, you want more than the measly 4 pages of text and Table of Contents that Amazon makes available to view so that you can tell if that book your favorite blog is recommending is really for you before you plunk down the cash.  Go check out the Ebook from your library and see what you think for yourself, even before your shopping cart times out.  Most often what I do is check out a bazillion books on one subject and then determine which is the best one to purchase.  I did this with a bunch of makeyourown‐pantrystaples books recently and finally decided on Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, which has turned out to be wonderful.  Besides using this trick for books, you can also try it out with...

Tip #8:  A variety of materials available to check out.  You may not even realize the array of materials your library loans out.  There are books, of course, but you can find these in regular and large print, audio book versions and even translations into other languages or Braille!  You'll find all types of children's materials to keep your little bookworm's shelves bulging at the seams, including board books for even the youngest of bibliophiles.  Besides digital Ebooks, you can often use your library card number to open a free account with Zinio (online magazines) or Hoopla (streaming movies and television shows).  The library also carries music CDs, DVDs, magazines, newspapers, and even maps, paintings and photograph collections!  That's right, you can even check out items to decorate your home!  Speaking of home, we all have technical issues every so often and you don't have to panic when they occur because... 

Tip #9:  The library provides technological tools for its patrons to use!  These tools include computers, free Internet access, printers, copiers, and more.  You can even bring in your own device to use with the free wi fi that's usually offered.  We've especially made use of this perk while visiting libraries during our travelseven while abroad!  This feature can be especially helpful when researching your location during a trip, but also...

Tip #10:  The librarians are there to help you get whatever information you need.  That's right, reference librarians are equipped to provide help on any topic imaginable and grant you access to databases full of information.  Did you know that pretty much all librarians must hold a master's degree in library science?  They are trained experts in research and resources and must be able to lead you to information so you can find your own facts, rather than provide you with the answers to your questions.  And although librarians aren't allowed to give answers to homework...

Tip #11:  Many libraries offer free tutoring and homework help for students of all ages.  Imagine that finding volunteer tutors to help your child study for that tricky physics exam that you just can't conjure up the explanations for.  Also, libraries often have free adult reading resources and tutors, to help improve the literacy rate in this country.  And while we're talking about encouraging literacy...

Tip #12:  The library offers many options to help promote reading in children.  Children's activities may include story time, craft days, Lego clubs, puppet shows, reading programs and contests.  These selections not only provide free activities for your child to participate in, but can help to foster a love of reading in even those little ones who won't always sit still for a book at home.  Even adults can benefit from services like these, when they engage in...

Tip #13:  Programs that are hosted by the library for all ages.  These range from lectures to concerts to classes (such as yoga and karate) as well as book clubs and other organized meetings.  You can even find free tax help at libraries during the busy season!  Getting a tax return?  Then you can use put it to use in the library's...

Tip #14:  Book stores.  The books sold here cost mere pennies and are all donated or discarded from the library's collection.  It's where I pretty much got all the books I had as a child (my mom and I would come home from a book sale with brown grocery bags bursting with books bought for a nickel or a dime each they're probably not quite that cheap these days).  The proceeds from such stores go to support the Friends of the Library, which put on so many of the great programs and activities that are offered at your library branch.  And if all that isn't enough...

Tip #15:  Some libraries have really unusual things that you can check out or use.  I've visited a lot of libraries in my day, and some of the things I've seen patrons borrow are puppets, games, seeds, household tools, telescopes and passes to area attractions.  These attractions might include zoos, aquariums, science, art and history museums that can all be quite pricey!  Many libraries offer unique spaces, as well.  My hometown library devoted an entire floor in its downtown branch to resources for genealogy research.  Often libraries will also have meeting rooms that can be used free or for a nominal fee.

As you can see, the library is more than just rows of dusty, musty bookshelves.  I hope that by exploring these 15 library tips, I've given you 15 reasons to love your library!

Did you already know all 15 of these library tips?  What's the most unique thing your library has to offer its patrons?  I'd love to hear - leave a comment or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

Also, if you don't want to miss a single minute of great tips like this and all the fun around here, be sure to sign up for free updates and then look forward to having each post delivered right to your inbox.   

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54 comments:

  1. Wow, thanks for the great tips. I am going to check into whether my library has Braille books or not. They would have come in handy when we were learning about Helen Keller.

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    1. You're welcome, Miranda, and good luck with finding those books! Thanks for stopping by to say hello!

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  2. Love these extra tips!!! I am already a regular guest at our library, and really enjoy the selection they have.

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    1. So glad you're already taking advantage of your library, Dawn, and thanks for stopping by to say hello!

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  3. I typed a lengthy comment and clicked publish but now don't see it.... maybe it'll pop up later??

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  4. Well, that one worked so I'll nutshell what I said before: the hubby and I love the library and my mother-in-law worked there for years. We have a hard time with wanting library cards now though because they started to charge a fee for them even though we live in the city that the library is in. We live maybe 10 minutes away from the library. So, I kind of got mad at them and use places like sweetfreebooks.com to find new things for my eReader. We may look into library cards when my 3 month old starts to read later on... but right now I don't want to justify the cost since I don't go very much.

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  5. I really using the services of the library. My kids are all grown but I use it to check out books in person or online and they have some pretty geaneology programs that are free to use if you use their computers. I love the book sales that they often hold as well. Ours provide computer classes, crafts and all sorts of class that you can take for free.

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  6. Love your list! I'm a big fan of the library. I especially love the fact that they send me reminders for when the books are due and I can go online and renew them. They make life so easy!

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  7. My family absolutely loves our library. We are constantly putting holds on items and having them delivered to our local branch. I honestly don't know what I would do without it.

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  8. We always check out books on Cd when we go on a road trip. We love the library!

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  9. Love, love, love going to the library! We also go weekly and always come out with a stack of books AND DVDS! One of the best things that our library loans us our iPads with kid-friendly apps! It rocks! We get to try out new apps (educational ones even) and if we like it, we download it on our own iPad. We also take advantage of storytimes - especially when they have Milk and Cookies at Panera.

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  10. I don't utilize my library nearly as much as I should. My wife has used it for genealogy and eBooks, but I had no clue that other things are available at some. I'm going to look more into what mine offers, thanks for the tips!

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  11. Great post! I love to read - haven't been to the library in awhile. I definitely need to go...

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  12. Those are great tips! I read all the time, but don't go to a library as much as I should. When I was a little girl, I actually had the goal of creating a library of my own. Neighborhood kids used to borrow books from "my library". With my current book buying habit, I am still well on my way to my own library someday.

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  13. We love our library! As homeschoolers, we've gotten a LOT of use out of our library cards. These are great tips. I'm always surprised to hear from people who never use the library. Of course, not all libraries are created equal either. lol We've moved several times in the past few years and some of our local libraries were great, some not so much. :) We used to go to the Bookmobile in the summers, too, and that was always a fun treat.

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  14. We make our library stop at least once a week. Usually in time for story time. It's awesome as my little one interacts with other kids and watches puppet shows and sings songs. It's almost like a mini circle time at preschool. We are also part of a program where an older child takes on a preschooler and they write a book together and draw pictures. It's about the life of the preschooler. It encourages the kids to interact and be creative. We love the library activities!

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  15. I have always been an avid reader, but I only re-discovered my love of the library a couple years ago when my PC crashed on me and I needed to go use one at the library. I now find myself going there often just to work. And I have passed along that love of reading and the library to both my children. Being surrounded by books fuels my creativity.

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  16. I loved the library when I was little but because of everything being so mobile and accessible online, I haven't been in years. I might give it a try. Thanks for sharing.

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  17. I volunteered in the local library when I was a kid. i have many happy memories of getting lost in the stacks and finding just the right book. I still use the local library and prefer to donate my unused books to help build up their catalog. It's spring break in Texas and yesterday I walked to the library with my grandkids - passing on the love! I'd love to see you stop by Front Porch Friday tomorrow and post this for us.

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  18. Love the tips. I'll be joining our local library with my family soon.

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  19. Our library has ebooks and I love it! I also go to the library for movies - saves a lot of money!

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  20. Great tips. I singed my daughter up for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library at our local library. It's such a great program and my daughter loves getting a new book to read each month.

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  21. Great tips about library ....I already join. Thanks for sharing.

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  22. This is great suggestions. I love the library as well and its such a great place to go!

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  23. I love the library too! We probably have half the library checked out too. We also get kids movies and magazines. We even get brand new movies that have come out.

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  24. I love the library too! We probably have half the library checked out too. We also get kids movies and magazines. We even get brand new movies that have come out.

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  25. We are likely kindred spirits! One of my very best friends growing up was Trixie Beldon and I was thrilled to introduce her to my children! It cost me a pretty at the time, as the books were hard to find and quite expensive at that time. Being a military kid, my mom did frequent purges and must have done so with my Trixie collection!

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  26. I LOVE the library! Always have, always will! Where I lived it was one of the only public buildings that was air conditioned in the summer. I use to ride my bike there and then sit and read all the magazines, and then check out so many books that my bag was incredibly TOO heavy to carry on my bike home. Somehow I managed, though.

    I really want to instill that love with my son!

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  27. I love books! I would actually love to have a local library that looks like the ones pictured in your post. Unfortunately, I live in a small town where the library is pretty sad. I hate to say it, but the librarians haven't been that inviting when I have been there. There is a larger library just about 15 miles away. I've never been there and I may have to check it out. I won't be making weekly trips, but your first tip will help me make the most of the trips I do take there. Thanks for sharing your love of the library with a fellow lover of books!

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  28. Libraries are such an under used resource that is FREE. More people should use the libraries in their town. Happy to here you are using this valuable place. Have a Fabulous Day!

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  29. We check out Kindle books from our county library system all the time - it's such a great service! They're adding more and more books all the time, too. I've also requested books through interlibrary loan before, and that was fantastic.

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  30. Great library tips! Friday is my day to take care of library business!

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  31. Isn't weird how things will pop up over and over. I saw a really cool looking library over the weekend, then someone in my office was talking about how much they love their library and now here you are providing tips, its kismet!

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  32. These are wonderful library tips! I just started checking out ebooks about a month ago and I love that I don't have to leave home to do it. The only bummer is that the ebook selection is somewhat limited, so I can't always find what I am looking for. Thank you for all the suggestions!

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  33. This is a great write-up! The library where I grew up sounds exactly like what you describe. Some libraries have an agreement with a music download site called Freegal where you can download and keep, for free, a set number of songs per week. We've moved a lot and the first two places I visit in the new town are the locally-owned grocery store and the library.

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  34. This post reminds me of taking my five girls to the library each week. At 5 books each plus my own, I had lot of books to keep track of. The girls are grown and gone, but the library is still a big part of my week. It seems you have a great library where you are. Enjoy it!

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  35. I enjoy going to the library with the little one I nanny and my grandkids. They have a nice little kids area with books, toys and a really big aquarium. They also run mommy and me type classes, so I'll watch the others while my daughter goes to the class with one of her boys. Our library has book sales too - love that part especially!

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  36. I love reading and I wish I could make it to our local library more often. It is quite a ways away, but I've very much enjoyed going when I had a chance to. After your post, I want to go even more now!

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  37. i love the library! i consider myself a library advocate, so i agree with you.
    b

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  38. Great tips - I always do #4 - that way I can run over there while my daughter is at swim practice next door and pick up what I want to read in minutes!!

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  39. Thanks for these wonderful tips. We don't go to the Library as often as we should because it is about 30-45 minutes away (1 way). But I also didn't know about #11. I will have to keep that in mind.

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  40. My family loves the library, too! Whenever we go into to check out books, we always buy a couple from the sale shelf to take on trips. Thanks for sharing at the This Is How We Roll Link Party on Organized 31.

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  41. I love the library! I have also started checking out audio books to listen to during my commute and have checked out a few DVDs as well. Thanks for the info!

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  42. This list made me smile! I'm a public librarian (teen services manager) & I love planning fun afterschool programs. People are always surprised to see kids playing the Wii in the library (we have doors that enclose our teen area so they can get loud if they want!). We also check out video games, which our patrons love.

    Someone once said that the reason they like librarians is that we know everything, but we're NICE about it. I love that!

    Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty :)

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  43. What a great list of tips! We love our library too. Thanks for sharing with the Frugal Family linky.

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  44. Great tips! We love our library and take advantage of many of their services. One other thing our library has that I love is passes to local museums and other attractions that let you go for a discounted rate or even free, it's wonderful. Thanks for sharing at What'd You Do This Weekend? I hope you will join us again this Monday!

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  45. Now I really want to make a trip to the library! Great list! So glad you shared with us at Merry Monday. Hope to see you again at the next party.

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  46. Our local library is one thing we greatly miss about living in the States! They don't have public libraries here in Mexico. At least not for kids :-(

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  47. I knew most of that as a library aficionado myself. I didn't know about #15 though. I'll have to look into that. We volunteer at our library and love its book store especially. Thanks for this article!

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  48. What a great list! Just this past week I discovered that our local library does offer and e-book and audio-book option. I have already downloaded the app and am on the waiting list for a few books!

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  49. I love the library! The library has a wealth of resources for parents, children, and the community!

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  50. Thank you for sharing these fabulous ideas! Your post has been featured on Witty Hoots this week - please join in as part of the Frugal Family Linky again soon!

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  51. I am in love with our local library! It has a teen center that stays open every Friday night for kids ages 12-18 to get together in a safe environment to play video games, board games, make crafts, and eat pizza.

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  52. We love the library. It could be better but we still love it anyway.

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