Posts tagged library
Lessons from the Library

Around here the library is an integral part of our daily lives. We both get most of what we read from ours, and count ourselves lucky to have access to such a great resource in our hometown. As adult readers, libraries are certainly valuable, but as mothers raising little readers, libraries are infinitely more precious. To us, libraries are so much more than rooms full of books.

When we stopped to think about it, we realized the library is teaching our kids so many amazing lessons, just by virtue of using them. The library is truly helping shape them into the sort of respectful, considerate, educated adults we hope they will become. 

1. Returning things on time- Learning about deadlines, calendars, and the importance of returning things on time is a core value most successful adults have. Our little ones get due date slips and learn that the due dates need to be respected to maintain the privilege of using the library. 

2. Consideration of others- How many people are on the wait list for that book you have? Online access makes it easy to see who else might want that book you just finished, and we are able to teach kids that returning that book early is a show of respect and kindness for others.

3. Treating things with care- At the library, being careless with the book in your possession can result in damages and fines. Our kids learn to be responsible with the books loaned out to them, to take care not to bend covers or tear pages, and to be respectful of the library's property they've been entrusted with.

4. Basic responsibility- When a book is checked out to them, we are sure to let them know it is now their responsibility and theirs alone to make sure the book doesn't get lost or damaged, and that it is returned to the library on time. When they walk out of the library with those books in their hands, we've entrusted them with something precious, and they are always eager to practice responsibility with their book treasures. 


5. Respectful transactions- Sure sometimes we use the self checkout (a brief lesson in its self) but most of the time we have our kids go face to face with librarians and practice good solid human interaction when checking out. They learn to wait their turn in line, greet the librarian, produce a library card, and stow books in their totes. It's one of the few places they can fully handle a transaction right now, because it doesn't require money, but great training for later in life when transactions are an everyday part of their lives. Having good, respectful habits through practice early is valuable!

6. Exploring interests- One of the best things about the library is that it is a risk-free way for them to explore their interests. Books are a great way to learn about the world around them, and since there is no cost associated with it, they are free to choose whatever and however many books they want to explore. We have one kid who likes science fiction, another who loves the natural world, and another who is trying a little bit of everything as she begins to read independently. 

7. Engaging with community- Our kids have learned to view our libraries are a hub of our community. We find out about local events there, bump into friends, and generally feel connected to the living breathing humans who share our corner of the world when we visit. Teaching kids that there is value in getting to know the people around you, and supporting your community is priceless.

In addition to all these lessons that are built into the act of using the library, our local branches offer so many programs tailored to each age group, and we bet yours does too! Do you use the library with your kids? Do you have any amazing memories of libraries from your own childhood? We'd love to hear!



Paper or Plastic: E-readers or Paper Books?
Paper or Plastic: E-readers or Paper Books?

It's 2016, which means many of you bookish friends out there probably own an e-reader of some kind. I personally started with a Nook when they first came out back in 2009, and am now on my third e-reader, a Kindle Paperwhite. After talking to several friends about their reading preferences, it seems like there are some clear reasons people prefer a real book to an e-reader, or vise versa, especially in specific situations. 

For people who have kids, paper books are important to have around, mainly because many of my friends (and myself included) want their children to watch them reading a physical book vs. watch them stare at a mysterious screen. Most of us spend enough time staring at our phones and computer screens with our kids around, it's refreshing to pick up a paper book. Also, paper books are often beautiful, intriguing objects for kids, and they notice and take interest in them. Everyone I know is deeply invested in having their kids share a love of reading, and this is one way we can help foster that love.

For when you're traveling, e-readers seem to win, hands down. You can store a variety of books, the e-readers take up almost no space in your carry-on, purse, or suitcase, and you can instantly download new books from the library or from your preferred digital bookstore...I think this is a no-brainer for most people. The instant download perk is also amazing if you just finished a book and need the sequel RIGHT NOW; you can just pop on the library website (or Amazon, etc) and download the sequel in about a minute flat. The instant access to anything you want to read is definitely hard to resist. 

On another note: got a gigantic doorstop of a 900-pager? Many people prefer those on an e-reader for ease (those books are cumbersome!) but also because it isn't as evident how woefully far you have to go. On the flip side, a lot of people enjoy paper books because they CAN see their progress, weigh in their hands the block of pages left to read, and note with satisfaction when their bookmark moves forward.

Speaking of ease, any e-reader with a backlight means you can stay in bed with the lights off and read without getting annoyed at your light source. Anyone else ever have that unpleasant experience of overhead lighting just glaring into your eyes and becoming an annoyance? A backlit e-reader totally eliminates that potential discomfort.

I've also heard from people that formatting and content will determine which medium they choose. E-books definitely don't always give a good experience if the book has odd formatting, pictures, or any other anomaly in it. And anything you read that would require referencing other chapters or pages quickly will merit a paper version. Like a book of poetry, where you may want to flip to a certain poem, or when reading philosophy and you need to back reference the previous pages quickly or flip to a footnote. Basically anything that you need to be able to quickly and nimbly move around to specific spots in the text, an e-book probably isn't going to be the better option.

A last consideration for me personally, is the fact that a stack of paper books; a physical, visual, stack, is better motivation for picking one up than my Kindle is. The Kindle can blend in with the bottom shelf of my nightstand and be half forgotten if I'm not currently working through a book. But a big stack of paper library books on my floor? They act as an inviting physical reminder to pick one up. They are just far more tempting and attention grabbing. For this reason, I do largely read paper books (thanks again, library!) but am super grateful for my Kindle as well; it certainly comes in handy!

What about you? Do you have a strong preference for one over the other, or is it situational? I'd love to hear!

Effeciently Managing Your TBR
Effectively Managing Your TBR

The towering stack of books is staring at your from the corner, filled with titles you can't wait to read, yet you don't know where to start and it's starting to make you want to just watch Netflix until the end of time. Having a to-be-read pile that's threatening to overwhelm you is a common theme in every reader's life. So how can we prioritize, organize, and get back to reading so we actually FINISH that pile?

Be Realistic: Take stock of about how many pages you read per day or per week. Be super honest with yourself about this! Once you have a baseline for how much you can accomplish in a week, you can keep your stack at a reasonable level that you can actually work through. Try to keep your TBR set up in chunks, maybe just books you want to read this month, that way you're setting realistic goals. If you know you read 50 pages per day, and you want to set a goal for a month, you know you can read five 300 page novels in that time frame. So pick up the five that you are most itching to read, and start there. The other four hundred books on your list can wait until next month's cycle. 

Plan With the Library: If you're like me, the library is your best friend, but my spot on the holds shelf can get alarmingly full really quickly. To combat feeling overwhelmed, I keep a list online in my library account of books "for later", and with books I have on hold I make judicious use of the "pause hold" feature until I'm really ready for a book to come in. Remember you can ALWAYS request a book a second time if you return it, you can usually renew a title to buy yourself some more time with it, and you can always, always, always go back for more if you finish too quickly! The library is such a versatile, amazing tool, especially with all the e-books and online account features they have now. I also make it a point to trade off between getting books from the library and reading what I have on my shelves (more on not hoarding books here).

Put it Down: Sometimes I check out a book I think I really want to read, but for one reason or another, I decide I don't want to go through with it. Maybe I read the first 50 pages and decide it's not for me, or the hype kills it, or I'm just not in the mood for it in this season, or what have you. Being realistic about when something needs to drop off your TBR is crucial. Sometimes I stare at my stack, take a good hard look through it, and pluck out a few to be returned to the library or donated. Suddenly my 9 book stack is 5 books and I feel in control again. Plus, that curation gets me excited to read the survivors all over again!

Don't Get Overwhelmed: Managing flow of your books is central to not feeling totally drowned in all the things you want to read. There are millions and millions of books in the world and it's important to remember you can't read them all, and to carefully choose what you spend your time on. That probably means not reading every overhyped release and ignoring books that people seem to LOVE but just aren't for you personally. Life is too short to read bad books! If you don't like it or it doesn't sound like it's for you, just let it go and don't feel guilty for a minute. Reading is a fun hobby, not something you should be feeling pressure from!

Have Some Heft and Fluff: If you have a serious book that requires a lot of attention, and you need to be in the right headspace in order to read it, try having a lighter, fluffier novel you can read for times you can't do that. For me personally, this means my heavier books are read at night after my son is asleep, and I have a fluffy novel I crack open when he's watching a show or playing trains by himself. I firmly believe it's important for him to see me reading, but I can't always enjoy my heavier fiction in his presence, so that fluff book is crucial. Plus this means I can work through my TBR in a balanced way. 

What strategies do you use to manage your TBR and keep from feeling overwhelmed? Let me know! 



Lifestyle Meets Literature: The Inspiring Library
Lifestyle Meets Literature: The Inspiring Library

Winter here in the PNW means rain. So. Much. Rain. And gloomy, rainy, gray cold days where it isn't all that fun to be outside. Unfortunately I have a busy three year old boy who needs space to work off his energy and engage in creative play when the walls of our home feel like they're closing in on the both of us and we just need some time out of the house. Indoor play spaces around here are nice, but get expensive and repetitive pretty quickly for he and I. 

In comes the library to save the day! First off, story time for pre-schoolers with ever-changing themes, fun songs, and bins of toys for the kids every Thursday morning lends some structure to our week and exposes him to playmates, a classroom-like setting, and new stories brought to life. And, of course, rows and rows of new books for him to check out and read with me at home, along with tables set up with puzzles and games that he absolutely adores. 

As for me, my spot on the holds shelf is my happy place. Each time we go, there is  a new treasure waiting for me. I have never requested a book and not had the library deliver it in short order; from hot new releases to little known gems. I tend to not want to buy books unless they're favorites, or classics. In addition to having other financial priorities as a family, I just plainly do not want that much stuff in my house. A stuffed bookcase is a beautiful thing, but I don't have the space for six of them. Because space is at a premium, I have long committed to only keeping the best and most loved books, my favorites, my read and re-read again classics. My bookshelf is an honor society of distinguished members, not an aesthetic free for all.

The library allows me get my hands on all those titles I want to read, but probably just once, and when I DO want to own a book, I usually have a great time going out to hunt for it locally. The library is just endlessly inspiring for me, because I can discover new books and request ones I know I want to read without the pressure of having them on my shelf. I save space and money, and my TBR always stays under control because I manage the flow of books coming to me. I don't have four hundred titles staring at me from a bookshelf I've never touched, which stresses me out! Plus, my son is exposed to a wide variety of titles and we can easily swap them out when he gets bored, or go purchase ones he can't get enough of. He has a stuffed bookshelf in his room, and again, it is dedicated to favorites only, and is re-organized and cleared out as his interests and reading level changes! The library has been such a crucial tool for our life and I can't recommend it enough.

Do you use your local library? What's your favorite feature? Let me know!