Week 35: Get a library card

 Libraries can open your mind to new ideas. |  U.S. National Library of Medicine

Libraries can open your mind to new ideas. | U.S. National Library of Medicine

There’s hundreds of reasons to get a library card, but here are eight good reasons parents should get one:

1. You can’t buy all the parenting books.

Every time someone declares the end of the parenting genre, someone writes a fantastic new parenting book. August 2018, for example, brought two such books: K.J. Dell’Antonia’s How to Be a Happier Parent and Kim Brooks’ Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear. If you have the resources to support these great thinkers and writers, wonderful! But, as you’re beginning to enter an expensive couple of years, you may want to save money by borrowing parenting books from your library.

Don’t want to walk into the library? No problem. If you have a Kindle, libraries can loan you books electronically. No Kindle? Still no problem. Libby will let you borrow your local library’s extensive digital holdings without having to leave your couch.

2. You’re tired of reading Goodnight Moon.

Maybe you have an ambitious reading goal, like 1,000 books by kindergarten. No matter how many books you’re looking to read, the library can help you find your child’s new favorite book.

3. Children’s non-fiction is a branded-content minefield.

A great book is a homing device
For navigating paradise.

A good book somehow makes you care
About the comfort of a chair.

A bad book owes to many trees
A forest of apologies.

If J. Patrick Lewis is right, the children’s nonfiction section owes apologies all over the globe. For every good book about space, science, animals, volcanoes, or bugs, there’s also a LEGO branded one.

Using the library can help you find nonfiction books worth reading. You can read my tips for finding good children’s non-fiction here.

4. You can order books online.

For at least the next few years, errands are going to be harder. Although your baby’s not bothering anyone nearly as much as you think, you might be looking for ways to eliminate or at least trim your time spent in public spaces with echoing ceilings.

Many libraries will allow you to reserve books online, so that they’re ready and waiting for you to pick them up and check them out. You can be in and out of the library in five minutes. Sometimes, you don’t even need to leave your car, as some libraries feature drive-up windows for reserve check-out.

5. You haven’t spoken to an adult in three days.

Some parents want to dash in and out of the library as quickly as possible. Cooped up parents may want to get out, but fear having to abandon a lunch date or grocery cart to deal with a screaming baby.

Many libraries offer storytimes for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, which offer a low-key way to meet new parents. The stories and activities prevent everyone from comparing weight percentiles and other milestones, which makes it easier to just enjoy each other’s company without feeling like you’re competing.

6. They pay for research.

Once you get more adept at doing good online research, you’ll notice that many of the articles you find through Google Scholar aren’t publicly available (including one we’ll be looking at in Week 40). If you blanch at the thought of spending $35 to access an article before you even know if it will be useful, visit your local library’s website for access to databases like PubMed or Academic Search Premier.

7. You might find babysitters.

Because libraries are for everyone, you’re more likely to find a wide variety of ages represented there. Hit the library after the local high school lets out and you may attract a new babysitter. Many libraries also maintain advertising boards if you want to screen a few candidates.

8. They have toys.

Many libraries feature children’s sections with train tables and other toys you’ll soon be prying a screaming toddler away from.

My local branch has puzzles, Lego building contests, and summer reading programs, but few of these services has yet caught my child’s attention because there is also a TOY LIBRARY with a three-week lending period.