An Affordable Family Night Out

Want to read the latest bestseller ? Listen to a rock or jazz CD or an audiobook? Find a movie or exercise DVD? Discover speedy recipes to feed your hungry family? Unravel the mysteries of home plumbing? Find the hottest new e-book? Do you need to access the Internet? The answers to all those needs, and more, are at your neighborhood library.

Take your family on a cheap date night to the library. Since kids are told not to talk to strangers, it’s a good idea to introduce yourself and your children to the children’s librarian. Also, help your child locate the rest rooms. By doing these two things your child will feel at home in the library. Take an informal tour of your neighborhood library and ask about services and activities. Librarians truly believe that there are no stupid questions, so don’t be afraid to ask about anything.

If you do not have a family computer or do not have access to the Internet, the library is the place you will find that access. Librarians have devoted their lives to public service. They want to help you. If you do not know how to use a computer or how to get online, they can assist you. They also know how to do research on the Internet and can help you find the information you need. Of course, if you bring the kids along, they will be able to help you, too!

It’s very easy to get a library card. Most libraries need only proof of residency, like a utility bill sent to your home. Some libraries even issue library cards to children the day they’re born!

Are you worried about returning materials and overdue fines? All libraries have after-hour return bins and most libraries allow you to renew materials over the phone or online via their website. Some will even pick up and deliver books to your home. Many libraries are now part of area-wide networks allowing you to find and order books online from a number of area libraries.

Libraries have story hours for young children and book discussion groups for teens. They offer private literacy tutoring for adults who have difficulty reading. They show movies and sponsor live musical performances. Many offer free family passes for area museums. You just need to make reservations in advance.

Libraries provide important information for families. If you are job hunting, librarians can help you find employment sources on the Internet. They have print resources that will show you how to write cover letters and resumes. Libraries stock tax forms and instructions. They have local community information and carry local and national newspapers. They also provide current information on everything from child care to gardening to urban sprawl, and they stock “how to books” on every imaginable subject.

Most importantly, libraries have librarians. Librarians can find the right book for your nine year old, your child who loves basketball but hates reading. Librarians know how to navigate the Internet. They know the best digital information sources. Librarians know which magazines will entertain your mother while she is confined to bed after surgery. They know which audiobooks will keep the kids occupied on the six hour car ride to your family reunion. And, if your library does not have a book or the materials you need, or if your library does not provide some of the services discussed in this article, talk to your neighborhood librarians. They will do everything in their power to fill your family’s needs.

So, go ahead and take your kids and spouse or partner on a free night out to the library. Chances are you will find riches untold!

© 2015 The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance