Frugal Favorites: Return to the Library…

I’ve written before about how much I absolutely LOVE the library– and today I’m coming at you with another edition of why you should be patronizing and supporting your local library, as well as highlighting some specifically cool things you can check out at the Phoenix Public Library for all my Arizona readers.

My kids go to a co-op school, and one of the ways that parents are invited to help with their education is to volunteer to be class librarian. The teachers give out a list of what is being studied each week or month, and the class librarian borrows books from the public library to supplement the classroom books and resources. This gives teachers back valuable lesson prep time, and it also helps new material and point of views come into the classroom. I was a librarian last year, but shared this job amongst many other volunteers so only had about 5 weeks of the school year where the job fell to me. This year, I once again jumped at the chance to be class librarian, this time for both of my kids’ classes and I’m sharing the role with two other parents for my daughters class and am the only librarian for my son’s kindergarten class.

While this has been a more time consuming job than I originally anticipated, it has made me think a lot about what books and perspectives I am sharing with my kids and whose stories are getting told in classrooms. It has made me delve into the world of non-fiction books for kids as well, something I will admit I have been pretty bad about including in our check out piles up until now. It has reminded me of the wide variety in quality of children’s books and made me think more about what makes a “good” or “useful” kids book- all questions I am still deeply pondering and maybe I’ll have a follow up post about it at the end of the school year. In the meantime, what this role has also done for me is basically turn me into a library ninja. So I wanted to share some more things I’ve learned about library resources…

(If you haven’t read my original post on library resources- CLICK HERE first as I won’t be repeating those!)

*First up- The hold system! The Phoenix public library allows you to put up to six holds out at once (BONUS: this is separate from the holds I have on e-books or audiobooks from the digital collection through Overdrive!) and the hold system has been SO valuable when requesting popular books, books that the phoenix system only has a single copy of (especially if that copy is at a library that is not particularly close to me) etc. It is also key for getting holiday books- those things disappear like crazy almost a month ahead of time. If you want a halloween book and you are just thinking about it on October 6th it is more or less a better luck next year situation and don’t even get me started on Christmas books! What is truly life changing about the holds system for me is that they will deliver the book to whatever library branch you want! I can’t tell you how much time this has saved me and I don’t really know how I didn’t register this incredible resource before. This is also an option for DVDs and CDs, resources I don’t use much, but my kids got very excited about renting DVDs for our Family Movie Nights this past summer.

*Speaking of holidays… from spending so much more time at the library this year, I’ve learned that different branches throw all kinds of holiday events and parties. Many of these include free crafts or free food which is always a win with my kids (and let’s be honest, with me too!)

*The events calendar also let me find out more about free adult classes on everything from crafting to gardening that are offered on a changing basis.

*THE SEED LIBRARY has been a major game changer since starting our garden a few years ago. You can check out three different seeds (it’s actually a packet of 2-3 seeds per variety you pick) once every three weeks. Almost my entire garden this year was planted with seeds I had leftover from previous seasons, seed harvesting, or seeds from the free seed library. I spent $0 on seeds for my fall garden thanks to this awesome program. The locations by me do not have flower seeds, but they do have a good variety for herbs and vegetables. And since it’s free- they even got this unlikely gardener to be persistent about growing herbs, something which has never worked out for me, and I finally got a basil plant to grow!

*The library also has a lot of work resources- job search help, resume and interviewing workshops, mentoring that I have not taken advantage of personally, but have heard taking place during my various visits and am more impressed than I thought I’d be. It also has the work resource of space…

*LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION: Something that I did not fully appreciate about the library until this year is that it is a temperature regulated  (aka lots of precious air conditioning the summer) FREE place for kids to play. A nice break from paying so much money for an indoor play space here in Phoenix. Our main library also has lots of nice spaces to get work done (as in that’s where I’m writing this blog post!) as well as cheap spaces available to meet up with groups in a private space (we used the main branch of the library as a rehearsal space for the staged reading I worked on last spring.)

*BONUS TIP: did you know your kids can get library cards pretty much right away?! For some reason I thought they had to be old enough to sign their names until I learned from my daughter’s preschool teacher that I could put all the books for her class on a separate library card for my daughter and it has made a world of difference for us! We now ALL have library cards which means more opportunities to place holds, check out books on a specific subject, etc.

All these resources have saved our family an incredible amount of money on children books, entertainment, food, and even gas (thanks to not having to drive to different location to get a specific book!) and I am so thankful for the public services the library provides!

What are your favorite library resources? If you haven’t dropped by in a while, I definitely recommend making it part of your next weekend plans.

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