The first step toward a successful trip to your local library is to plan ahead. First, decide when to go. If you are taking children, I suggest choosing a time when your library typically is not busy so that possible noise will not be as much of an issue. You might also want to consider visiting your library when your children are well-rested and not hungry. Most libraries no longer have a “whisper only” policy, but I always feel more comfortable when my children are not being disruptive. Next, make a list of the materials or types of materials you would like to check out. Know what you will be looking for before you head out the door. Once you get inside the building you may be too overwhelmed or too busy keeping up with your children to remember what you were there to get, much less to sit at a computer and peruse the online catalog. Think ahead through the period of time up until you plan to return to the library for books that you may need for play groups, teaching, and pleasure reading. If I am going to be reading books on birds to a children’s group in the next week, I will put that on my list. I then look up the location of these books in my library. This can be done online – BEFORE heading to the library. The classification system your library uses may vary, but most local public libraries use the Dewey Decimel system. This may be accomplished by searching for the general Dewey Decimel number online or by searching your library’s website for the specific call number and availability. Finally, once you have chosen a good time and have made a list, finally, don’t forget to take a reusable bag. Carting your stack of materials around the library and out the door can be difficult, even if you aren’t also toting a baby in a car seat and chasing down a toddler! Many libraries provide plastic grocery bags for your check-outs, but these are difficult because they easily get holes in them from the corners of books. Some libraries provide canvas or mesh bags when you sign up for a library card, when you join the Friends of the Library, or even as prizes at library events. If you have one of these or another bag, pack up your returns and your list and off you go for your successful trip to the library.
The next post in this series will discuss the first thing you should do when you enter your library.