6 Ways to Make the Most of Your Library Visit

In this digital information age, many people may dismiss the advantage of library attendance. Clearly, hopping on the internet for information while in your pajamas sounds much more appealing than wrangling everybody into clean clothes and dealing with wandering children in a public place. But there are still benefits to reap from your local library! Read on to see how you can make the most of your library visits.

1. Visit the Library Regularly

If you are going to make the most of your library visits, then visiting them regularly and often are going to be key. Dig through your weekly schedule and carve out some time—just 30 minutes can be all you need once you go frequently and learn how to make the most of your visit. Visiting the library regularly also makes it much easier to avoid those overdue fees. The time is already allotted to BE at the library… all you have to do now is remember to bring the books.

Also, as you visit the library with your children more often, they will begin to understand the routine—making library trips that much easier.

 2. Separate Library Books From Other Books

If you have little ones that are checking out books, clear some shelf space at home for their library books. First, it makes the books easier to find for your child to read, and second, it makes it easier for you to find them when they are due. Avoid those overdue fees!

 3. Get to Know Your Library

One of the first things anyone does upon entering a library is to find a specific area, for example, the childrens’ picture book section, the storytime schedule, or the science fiction section. Now that you know where your favorite spots are, it’s time to explore some more. Unless your library is extremely small, there are probably sections that you have never visited. Branch out into an adult genre you don’t usually read or explore the oft-neglected juvenile nonfiction section with your grade-schooler.

In addition to learning the physical mapping of the library, learning the catalog system is a critical step. While some libraries may still have paper card catalogs, it’s likely that nearly all will have the catalog online. The online catalog is easily found on the library’s website. You can use the computers in the library to search for books while you are there, or search for books at home, then find them in the appropriate library section later. And while you are clicking around the catalog, check and see if your library offers digital items. Many libraries have partnered with digital book and audio libraries for free “borrowing.”

4. Explore Your Library’s Website

As already mentioned, the library website is where you’ll find the online catalog. However, the library’s website holds a wealth of information—not just book information. Online, you can put items on hold and pick them up reserved for you on your library’s hold shelf. Explore the library’s calendar and learn the times for weekly storytime, find information about summer reading programs, and learn about other programs that your library might offerwhether classes to learn new skills or a visiting art exhibit.

5. Make Friends With the Librarians

Most librarians are very helpful. As you visit the library frequently, make a point to talk to and get to know the librarians. In turn, they’ll get to know you. Then, when you ask for help, they’ll be more able to help in the way that you need.

Really good librarians will also get to know your kids. Some of them will even understand what book your four-year-old is talking about that you are clueless about.

For good or for ill, librarians overhear what you are saying.

Example number one: After overhearing a couple express a desire to read the Walking Dead comics, on a subsequent visit, the librarian explained that he had overhead the conversation and put the Walking Dead omnibusthat had been on order at the timeon hold, and that it was now ready for pick up.

Example number two: After overhearing a 7-year-old boy lament to his perplexed mother that there was one more book in a series, the librarian saved the day by corroborating the boy’s knowledge and then heading into the back-room of the library to find the much desired book.

6. Check-Out From More Than Just Your Library

Expand your book access without ever leaving your local library with inter-library loans. Available online or at the librarian’s counter, these books may take a bit more time before they arrive in your hands, but it’s a great way to get more out of your library. Just be sure you understand the terms for inter-library loans as they may differ from normal library policy.

Did you know that you can access other libraries instead of just your local library? Some cities have multiple libraries, while other cities make reciprocal agreements with other libraries. It may be the case that a library twenty minutes away—rather than around the corner from your house—better meets your needs and is worth the extra drive.

If your local library does not completely meet your needs and there are not reciprocal arrangements with other libraries, don’t despair. Frequently, libraries will allow you to patron the library for a yearly fee.


Libraries are more than just a collection of old, out-dated books. There is so much that our local libraries have to offer if we just take the time to visit them and get to know them.

Does your child need a bit of push to appreciate those library books? Check out 8 Ways to Inspire a Love for Reading.

Photo Credits: Stockholm Public Library by Samantha Marx (CC BY 2.0),  _DSC0054, 2987179771 and Peninsula Center reference desk by Palos Verdes Library District (CC BY 2.0)

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Stefani

Stefani was raised in California; with her husband hailing from South Carolina, they’ve settled in the middle and are now raising three Texans. She loves classical homeschooling, great books, period dramas, modifying recipes, simple living, deep thinking, and cuddling up with her family to watch silly YouTube videos.

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