Insider tips for moms and dads at the liberry

So I've been spending a lot of time in the kids books this fall, and I'd like to share some of what I've learned with the world to better enhance the world's library experience. If this doesn't apply to you, just log it away until you are at the point when you are taking your small children to the library, or taking other people's small children to the library, or maybe just lurking in the library to watch small children, in which case I will totally call the police on you, freakshow.

So. Here they are, insider tips courtesy of your favorite librarian! (Or, you know, just some librarian whose blog you read, or don't.) And these are actually meant for the right-thinking people out there. I've addressed the crazies already many times and will surely do so again, some more, for all the good it'll do me. But that's not for today.


1. Buy a box of cleaning wipes. Consider using them to wipe down the covers of the picture books you bring home before you give them to your kids to read. This goes triple for board books. Not only will your kids' immune system thank you, but you'll be helping to keep the library books looking new and shiny. Unconvinced that this is necessary? Head over to the Eric Carle section and pull out a book or two. Those black streaks all around the edges are not part of the design, friends, and you have NO idea how long they've been there. Also? Two words: Flu. Season. Don't let your family be the victim, here.

2. Teach your children to be darling to the librarians. This will likely get them stickers. Or stamps. Or candy. Or even better things that you can't even fathom yet, because that's just what happens when a librarian loves your kid.

3. Please don't chat with the other parents if you're sitting in a storytime, even if you're whispering. It's like the butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil. You risk spinning the world into anarchy, I promise you.

4. This may seem like a silly one, but in a lot of UT libraries the pictures books about kids who are not white don't get checked out very much (Dora the Explorer notwithstanding), even the books that are really good (not you, Dora). Seriously, I don't know what the story is there but I'm guessing it's not a conscious thing. Do any of you know? And is there anything to be done about that?

5. Get to know your library's website (if your library is the kind that has one of those and not just some random homepage that lists which holidays you'll be closed for in 2006, not that I'm bitter) and see what kinds of free electronic sources are available. Instead of slogging into the library looking for the last remaining book about [sdflkjasdflkj] for your kid's report, you could very possibly be able to get the best, most current information through the electronic journals, encyclopedias, countrygrams, and I know not what. For instance, check out the kid page at the Salt Lake County library system. Or the Preschool Pioneer page by the State Library. Hours of fun right there, y'all. Or maybe you could just sit your kids down in front of safe educational games while you try to poop alone, in the bathroom by yourself. Whatever your needs are.

6. Check out the juvenile nonfiction section. For lo, it is awesome and kind of the best-kept secret in the kids section. A lot of these books would be just fine mixed in with the picture book, they're that gorgeous and cool. Plus, depending on how your library does things, that may be where you'll find a lot of holiday books, fairy tales, poetry, and all kinds of good stuff.

LDS books-289
Fairy Tales, Myths, Legends--398s

Also they have a whole award now for nonfiction kids books. Here are some of the favorites I've read in the last couple of weeks that are potential Sibert Medal nominees. And some will likely be considered for both the Sibert and the Caldecott, they're just that pretty.

If you want some reading ideas for the Christmas break, check out the potential runners up for the 2009 Caldecott, Newbery, Sibert, and Geisel awards. Some of these books are fabulous, others I really think have no business being on any list that is not called "Books You Don't Need to Bother Reading." And one of the Newbery buzz books is called Savvy, which I think is sign enough that it needs to win.

And now enough of me. Has anyone else picked up any tips to share with the group about how to make the best of your library?


Anonymous said... [reply]

"the picture books about kids who are not white don't get checked out very much"

Surely location, location, location is a factor here. I doubt a library in Harlem would be able to make the same statement

Janssen said... [reply]

I just read Savvy last weekend and I'm not surprised by all the buzz - it really does have that "Newbery" feel to it.

Great suggestions and lists.

Nookleerman said... [reply]

I think you should post insider tips #3 as a sign in the storytime area, maybe with some cute butterflies and/or a scene of destruction in the background. Also, if I'm reading this right, you are encouraging parents to leave their children unattended whilst spending several minutes (or more, depending on your bran intake) in the restroom. That doesn't seem like a good idea.

Lindsay said... [reply]

Our library has a program called Reading is Fundamental that is linked with story time and which allows kids who attend regularly to earn free books. Free books, people! Every third time we attend story time (so, every three weeks), we get to bring home a book for our own library. My insider tip? If you library offers such a program, SIGN UP. I mean, come on -- free books!

Also? Those books you listed look fabulous. Am adding them to my [ever-expanding] to-read list.

Natalie said... [reply]

I think the restroom comment was about using services on your home computer, and, thus, having a moment to yourself at home. Nemesis would never encourage parents to leave their children unattended at the library. Someone may cal DCFS.

Natalie said... [reply]

cal = CALL

Nemesis said... [reply]

Natalie is right, Nookleerman, thanks for pointing this out--I meant at HOME, not at the library. Never never never at the library. Whew.

Anon, thanks for reminding me that I accidentally erased the words "in Utah" from that sentence. It was really late when I posted :-)

Jenny said... [reply]

Also fabulous in the children's nonfiction are the kids; cookbooks (like the dr seuss cookbook) an all the human development books. My kids love to see the bones and muscles and in-utero fetuses.

PS- Dora books suck.

FoxyJ said... [reply]

As a parent I've discovered that holds are my new best friend. It is impossible to browse the stacks with small children in tow.Now I just request books that I want and go pick them up off the shelf each time I'm in the library. Easier for everyone. I second and third the wiping books thing. I used to work as a page, and after several hours of shelving my hands would be black with dirt. Not kidding. Don't let your kids lick the books--in a perfect world there would be library employees with time to wash all the covers, but it doesn't happen.

EmAndTrev said... [reply]

Agree with Jenny on the cookbooks for children! Good advice on the wipes for taking care of those pesky flu-season germs!

Natalie said... [reply]

I read with 1st graders once a week at our elementary school. Once, a little boy brought me a book, and as I took it from him, I touched the giant booger someone had left on the back cover. Thankfully, I only gagged instead of actually throwing up, and I was able to de-boog the book and my hand with clorox wipes. Eeeek!

Word verification: colonal.

Marie said... [reply]

We aren't in Utah, and we don't browse with the intention of looking for particular subjects, but my kids really have liked "Lookin' for Bird in the Big City" by Robert Burleigh, which we ended up checking out MULTIPLE times, and "Rum-a-tum-tum" by Angela Shelf Medearis, which we ended up buying, our kids loved it so much. I hope that your library has those--it has nothing to do with the non-white thing in our house, we were just lucky to find some wonderful books that our kids love---maybe someone else's kids will love these too....

daltongirl said... [reply]

I know parents who have to take their kids with them when they go to the bathroom--even at home. That's what I thought Nookleerman was referring to. Depends on the kids, of course. Some kids might be fine left alone in front of a screen for two to twenty minutes while mom takes care of personal matters. Others, not so much. I'm betting you can pick these kids out within seconds of their arrival at the library.

Thanks for the heads up. I love it when Christmas is over and we can all start waiting impatiently for the Newbery/Caldecott award announcements.

Desmama said... [reply]

Speaking of "liberries," I put two children's books on hold and picked them up today--the Charlie and Lola ones you told me about. They look darling and the kids are so excited to read them, as am I.

stupidramblings said... [reply]

Books about kids who aren't white?
Where do I sign my kids up?


I'll have a new and improved Excel budget spreadsheet soon. Is your email still the same?

chosha said... [reply]

I know I'm biassed, but I recommend Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman. It's a very empowering story and the Dave McKean artwork is wonderful.

(The word verification was 'bumbelly', no lie. :))

AmandaStretch said... [reply]

I'm a big fan of patrons learning to use the library's resources, even just searching the online catalog. Saves us all time, and you get exactly what you're looking for. Also, yes, I sing, play the piano, and run a music library but that doesn't mean I can sight-sing the orchestral piece you're asking for, or tell you if it's hard. I don't play the violin. It all looks hard to me.

Z. Marie said... [reply]

I love going to the library to browse and for storytime and such. And the online journals and other resources are great. But to me, being able to check the online catalog to see whether something I want is available is one of the greatest developments of the Internet age. Being able to reserve/request books on the Web is wonderful.

Audra and Levi said... [reply]

We are all about the non-fiction here! Especially since my son seems to love science and I am determined to groom him into being a weatherman... but he also enjoys captain underpants.

Nadia said... [reply]

I live in New Mexico and our library system has lots of audio books that you can download on to your computer and MP3 player. Some stop working after two weeks, but others, you can actually burn CDs of them. For example, all of the books in Lord of the Rings, tons of children's books...those are only a few. Of course, you have to dig through a lot of trashy books to find the good ones, but the good ones are there.

Nells-Bells said... [reply]

love the new background and design!

also, in regards to the books with zero white kids that don't get checked out very much (sorry about the run-on sentence), did you see the office last week? toby buying the unicorn doll off derrell and being disappointed. i think that explains a lot. ;)

historyforchildren.blogspot.com said... [reply]

I will look into the books you recommend. I have read We Are the Ship. It is beautiful. Children would enjoy the word search and coloring page for that book offered here:


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