In the era of apps and iPads, public libraries can seem sort of… quaint. What IS that big building on the corner, anyway? You might pass by its doors every day for years without going in.
In the summertime, though, libraries show their true strengths as super-powered resources for families. Here’s why you should make a trip to the library part of your regular weekend routine, if you haven’t already.
1) Space to chill
After days running around outside, playing at the pool or going to camp, the quiet, air-conditioned rooms of the library can feel like an oasis. Plus, most modern libraries have plenty of comfortable chairs where kids can sit back, rest, and get lost in a good book. It’s the perfect place for a break from summer break.
Everyone knows libraries offer a treasure trove of books. What you might not realize is that library collections now typically include movies, audio books, podcasts and other non-paper-based sources of information and entertainment—all available for free with your library card. Today’s libraries are also fully connected internet hubs, with free access to computers and wifi. Kids may be able to borrow tablet computers, play games, or browse the web.
3) Events and classes
From summer reading competitions to guest lectures and computer classes, your library probably offers more group-focused events than you think. Most also do a great job of offering something for everyone, whether it’s weekly story time for toddlers or graphic novel clubs for teens.
4) Tickets and passes
One of the best-kept library secrets is that many of them allow you to check out membership passes to local museums and cultural centers. Before you pay for the cost of admission yourself, check to see if you can borrow a pass for free.
5) Endless stories
Come for the AC, or the internet, or the classes. But stay for the books. For kids, especially, libraries can be a portal to new worlds and a lifetime of reading. Let your child explore the shelves—you might be surprised to see what grabs their interest. And if you’re not sure where to start, ask a librarian. Far from the fussy, shushing stereotypes, they’re some of the friendliest people on the planet.