Still think of libraries as quaint, quiet book nooks? Think again. Today’s public libraries are bustling centers of information, from employment assistance to downloadable e-books. And, with finances tight for many parents, they’re also an amazing hub for free services and resources.
One Michigan standout is the Adrian Public Library, located 30 miles southwest of Ann Arbor. Renovated in 2009, this modern downtown spot sports a teen area, small business space and even a café, run by a local small business. It won the Michigan State Librarian’s Excellence Award in 2010.
Here, director Carol Souchock shares some of the ways your hometown public library could save your family some serious cash.
For younger kids
- The events – oh, the events! Engaging story times are specially tailored for certain age groups and can include crafts, snacks and other surprises. Or stop by for a movie, trivia nights, music, magic and puppet shows, live animal appearances – the list goes on.
- Computer fun. Many terminals now offer screen games with a learning twist. At Adrian, for example, two early-literacy stations have 30-plus games in English and Spanish primo for the younger set.
- Special space. Kid-geared areas for exploration give young students a place to study, read or just hang out.
- Puzzles and games. Explore board games, build a masterpiece out of LEGOs or a tackle a classic jigsaw. Check with your library to see what sorts of fun is in store.
For tweens and teens
- Hang out. Dedicated spots where chat and study is welcome? It’s a growing trend in libraries like Adrian, which boasts a Teen Zone. Special tween and teen geared events also add social spark.
- Grab a graphic novel. Novels are hardly the only paperbacks in store. Libraries are stocking these illustrated tales like never before – including many of the latest.
- Wii gaming events. The popular, get-off-your-butt Nintendo consoles have found their place, too. Check with your library to see what’s on-site and/or available to borrow.
- Free Internet. It’s a simple but serious perk. For school studies, research, gaming; you name it, it’s there. In growing cases, so is the ability to link in your laptop or iPad with WiFi.
- Teen Advisory Board. Want to see a new service, program or resource? Join one of these to make your voice heard.
- Get cultured. Art exhibitions frequently rotate through library galleries. For a little personal perspective, visit your library to access AncestryLibrary Edition – primo for piecing together family history.
- Media goods. Check out a new novel as a book, book on CD, Playaway – even downloadable eBook or eAudiobook (check for availability). Magazines are on-hand, too, if you’ve cut back on home subscriptions.
- School yourself. Use LearningExpress Library online to improve your math and English skills ¬– or study for the ACT, SAT, GED. Or learn how to speak a new language with a book, CD or DVD.
- Job prep. Get ready for a job interview. Check out book or DVD and use online databases like Gale’s Business and Company Resource Center.
- Cash considerations. Browse product reviews in Consumer Reports for big purchases. Tighten your budget or save on energy with library resources. Heck – even learn to fix your car using the Chilton Auto Repair database.
- Movie night. Why spend a dime? Check out the DVD collection available at your library.