When I was a kid, going to the library was a great event. My brother and I would spend what felt like hours poring over the shelves, reaching for our favourites, and finding new books. We knew which sections had the best books and we knew just how many Asterix comics we were each allowed to take out. I remember checking out the same books over and over again and I remembering discovering new favourites for the first time. I can recall the anticipation of walking to the Fraser Library with my empty backpack, knowing it would be filled with goodies on the way home.
My library love was, perhaps, cut short by an experience with a grumpy librarian. Maybe I caught him on a bad day but when I was about twelve, he wouldn’t let me check out a book from the adult section. Not believing that it was for me and so not allowing me to take it home, I left and never returned. For nearly a decade and a half, my library visits were contained to academics. I spent hours in the university library, researching and studying and writing but never searched its shelves for enjoyment.
That all sounds kind of dramatic and I was clearly a shy, sensitive kid, but it’s been a kind of delight to learn to love the public library again in recent years. Since then, I’ve had library cards to three other library systems, including our current one. But it took having my own kids to make me a regular library user again.
Now I try to make the library a weekly spot for the girls and I to visit. We’re often there before the doors even open and are some of the first people to walk in. We’re very often the noisiest people in the library. Because no matter how many times I remind Pearl and Rose about using their quiet voices, their excitement gets the best of them. To be honest, I’m not sure if the librarians like us or not but we keep going back.
Rose loves the giant teddy bear who sits on the little couch and Pearl will usually pull out some of the puzzles. I wander the stacks and pull out picture books that look like they might be fun for us to read together. Sometimes the girls pick out books within their reach, something they ask about ones we’ve read before.
At this point, our library visits are pretty me-directed but I hope I am fostering their appreciation of it all. Here’s what we picked up at our last visit:
The three books on the far left were chosen by Pearl and Rose. Finding Nemo comes with a CD to listen along with the story. I like finding these for Pearl’s quiet time but she only ever wants either Finding Nemo or Cars. So we pretty much take them out on rotation.
The rest were chosen by me, knowing what Pearl and Rose enjoy and what I like reading to them. I’m a sucker for beautiful illustrations (Jan Brett) and classic stories (Beatrix Potter). We have and enjoy books by Jon Agee as well as another in the Little Blue Truck series. I haven’t yet read much by Chris Van Allsburg but Pearl and I had a great time talking about our house from the perspective of ants. The Colour Thief was one I’d never heard of but the pictures are very fun. I expect it won’t be much longer before Pearl becomes more vocal in her reading choices and I’m looking forward to her becoming more involved in our selections.
The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant is obviously my own read. Currently, I don’t get much chance to browse on my own so I survive using the library holds system. Doing so also means that I have an added incentive to take the girls to the library, even on days when it feels like a lot of work. This past year I’ve started taking advantage of the Inter-Library Loans system to access some of my longstanding TBR titles.
Do you use your public library? How do you make it work for you? For those of you with kids, what do your library trips look like?