Maybe my love affair began I had my first library card at the age of five, or perhaps even before I could walk, when Mom started bringing me to Baxter Memorial Library for story hour. Growing up, the library was one of my favorite places. I remember sitting on the floor in front of the card catalogues when I was in elementary school, systematically looking up every book filed under magic, dragons, or castles. (Yes, card catalogues. Remember those?) It was close enough for me to walk to, and by the age of 8 or 9 I loved the independent thrill of walking into a place where anything I wanted I could borrow and bring home.
I still love the library, and for even more reasons now. We were lucky enough to buy a house within walking distance of our town's main branch, and now I get to take my turn following in my mother's footsteps by placing Will in the stroller every Tuesday morning and going to "Book Babies". Twenty minutes of songs and stories, a nice walk through town, and an opportunity to watch Will observe other children and the librarian with wide eyes and big smiles. I look forward to the outing every week.
While I'm there, I browse the aisles for picture books to bring home and read to Will. I even return the ones I borrowed last week. Usually. But if I don't, I love knowing that any library fines go towards helping my library continue to offer free programs and lots of books to anyone in the community. (Most libraries also have a "friends" program where you can become a supporting member.)
I've had a ton of fun picking out titles to read to Will, especially since in his pre-verbal stage I am the one who gets to pick what we read. I'm taking full advantage of that, and it's been so much fun. Kids books are awesome! They're funny, happy, short, and have lots of pictures.
For example, check out Dragon Stew by Steve Smallman, a rhyming book about Vikings who decide to search for a dragon to make into stew. It's hilarious. Or Smile if You're Human by Neal Layton, where alien tourists come to earth hoping to see humans. I even found a book called The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish. I'm not sure Will's even listening, but I'm having a blast!
I love owning the classics that will become favorites, but I also love freely exploring five or six new titles a week. With the library, I can read Will a new book every day. It's free, it's environmental, and I don't end up with an extra 365 books a year fighting for space on the shelves.
The library is great for adults, too.
I've subscribed to receive booklists summarizing the latest fiction, fantasy, and most requested books. They've got a whole page dedicated to book lists to help you decide what to read next.
I can request books or pay fines online, and with their interlibrary loan system I can usually get anything I'm looking for. Plus, when I request them I can pick them up at the front desk in under five minutes instead of searching the shelves with a baby in tow. I love checking out books of knitting patterns instead of buying expensive pattern books because I want to knit one thing, or reading a few chapters of popular parenting books before I decide which ones are worth buying to have in the house as a reference.
My library even offers museum passes that you can check out for one day to get into area museums free or for a minimal co-pay.
Libraries are awesome. Are you using yours?
Will does too. Really.