August 5, 2017

Our New Library

So, you know I'm a big fan of libraries, right? Even setting aside my professional interest in them, free books make me happy. People wanting to further the knowledge and literacy levels of a community make me happy. I practically grew up in the library, as my dad was also a librarian. When we moved, having a library was near the top of my list of necessary establishments for a town I was going to live in. (Grocery store was #1, as it turned out, but library was a close second!)

Well, I am rather chagrined to admit that so far I have mixed feelings about our new library. So now you get to hear all about it. :)

Let me start with the good stuff.

For one thing, it is quite a bit bigger than the one we left. More books! Hooray!
Related to that, they have a whole section of LDS (Latter-day Saint, i.e. Mormon) fiction. Welcome to Utah, folks! I had to chuckle when I saw that, but I am glad. Maybe I'll get to read some of these books that I've been too cheap to buy up until now!
They also seem much more open to buying books at patron suggestion.

Summer Reading Program
I have been much happier with their take on the Summer Reading Program here. Instead of a log that you filled in at your leisure, to return for the prize of one book for June and one for July, this one goes by number of pages read for older kids and number of books read for younger. It's on the honor system. For my youngest--oops, that would be the baby these days--I mean for my 5 year old, it is 20 books--picture books, board books, whatever. The next step up is 150 pages and for the highest level it is 300 pages. However, you are not limited to a time frame. So you could read 300 pages a day and go in every single day to claim a prize. Awesome! We have been making it in every 1-2 weeks.

Also the prizes are way more fun. Not that I was unhappy with the kids choosing books before. However, at this library, they have a whole glass-fronted cabinet full of prizes of all different kinds. Yes, there are plenty of books, but there are also little toys, games, coloring books, candy, etc. My kids have been way more motivated to do the reading with the plethora of fun options as prizes.

Besides, I'm not really worried about them not having enough books. I buy books rather frequently--from thrift stores, from Scholastic, for gifts, etc. I seem to have this addiction... In fact, we are about at the critical stage of accumulation where if more books come in, some others will have to go simply to make room. May I remind you we purchased 2 new bookshelves after we moved here? They are both packed full already! (People talk about styling their bookshelves and I think--wait, you have room on your bookshelves for things other than books? How does that work?) Each child has a bookshelf in their rooms as well. So yes...books are great, but so are other prizes.

You can't beat 5 minutes away--though that's more due to the size of the town than the library itself. Also, the staff have all been very friendly and helpful the times we have gone in.

Here are a few things I don't like as much.

5 Items, 90 days
This is my biggest complaint so far. So new patrons can only check out 5 items at a time, for the first 90 days. ! Why?! I mean, this is a small town, as I believe I have mentioned before. People know me in this town that I have never met yet. Apparently, word has gotten around. So it's not like they wouldn't be able to track me down if they had a mind to!

Our average number of items checked out at our last library hovered around 40. You see, I would allow each kid to check out as many books as their age, so that's 9 + 7 + 5=already up to 21. Then I would have my books on top of that. Plus, I would often let them check out audio books that didn't count toward their total. Anyway, what I am saying is, the 5 book rule is severely cramping my style.

I suppose I could get a library card for each child, which would give us 20 books per visit right now. The problem being that I seem to be incapable of keeping track of: a) my children's library cards (so I know the number, so I can renew the books) and b) when their books are due, versus when mine are due. So far we've done okay keeping track of the books themselves. A few too many fines later, though, and we've gone to the family card system. I am the keeper of the family card. So yeah.

So this whole summer, the kids have taken turns being the ones who get to check out 2 books, vs. the poor child who only gets to check out 1 for the week. I have been making do with checking out ebooks, which do not count toward that total, and kindle books on sale for $1-2 through the book deal sites.

Once our 90 days is up and we get a regular person library card, we still can only check out 30 books at a time. Okay, fine. 30 books is do-able, I suppose. (Grumble grumble.)

Kids' Area/Comfort
The kids' area does have a few things going for it. For one, it's roomy. For another, there's a great floor-to-ceiling mural on the walls, of a forest. There's a dropped down area in one corner, which of course my kids all immediately gravitated toward. There's a child-sized bathroom right off the main area. Great!

My problem here is two-fold:
1. Other than the mural to look at, one road map rug, and a handful of cars, there's very little to play with or do in the kids' area. Our last library had a little puppet stage and puppets, a train table, a wooden dollhouse with fixtures and people, magnetic letters and a metal board, a felt wall with felt nursery rhyme characters, and so on. My kids always looked forward to our library trips, as much for the toys as for picking out the books.

2. No comfortable seating!
I'm not kidding! For adults there's one wooden rocking chair and one stiff armchair. That is it! There are maybe 6 kid-sized round tables, each with 4 kid-sized (hard) wooden chairs around them. Then there are 2 big ottoman-like benches between the rows of books, that seem impervious to either sitting (no backs) or lying down (too hard and too short.) So really, no comfortable place to sit down with a book and read for awhile. This is a serious lack. It cuts our visits short every week, because rather than lingering and starting in on that new book, we uncomfortably sit in the available chairs for about 10 minutes then decide to leave.

Family storytime?
Finally, I had kept the flyer listing weekly themes for some time. It advertised the regular preschool storytimes would be for all ages during the summer. Okay, so we chose a week. The theme was "Build with Bubbles." Sounded promising.

It was stories about bathtime. The average age was 2 years old. After apologizing to my 9-year-old for bringing him to this "family storytime" and sending him off to go find some books, I sat with my baby in the back, while the middle 2 listened to the 2 picture books. Not that my oldest would have been super interested in any type of storytime anyway, but we had hoped there would be some actual bubbles involved. Nope, not this time. They did do a craft afterword--painting fireworks with toilet paper tubes that had been cut on the ends. My 7-year-old and 5-year-old participated in that.

Perhaps this was just my bias as a children's librarian coming through, but folks! Don't promise me "Build with Bubbles" then give me bath stories! C'mon now! I did a fun (cheap) program every summer at my library with bubbles out on the patio. It involved a couple of children's wading pools and copious amounts of Dawn dishsoap, with a little glycerin. Anyway. It was disappointing, to say the least.

* * * * *
I mean, this is what we've got, right? Maybe now that I've got all that off my mind I can just focus on the good. Maybe join the library board at some point and give some suggestions.


  1. Their summer reading program sounds awesome! But only five items at a time for 90 days?! I would die! But I bet you could change most of the negative things if you wanted to get involved. You could anonymously drop off a comfy chair, for one. ;) Good luck!

    1. Yes, you are right about that. Maybe even a suggestion to the right person would do the trick. We can hope!