Books are the calmest and most constant friends; they are the most approachable and wise advisers, and the most patient teachers.
-Charles William Elliot
During the lockdowns, many teenagers have turned to reading to occupy their time. Now, as things are starting to reopen in many parts of the world, many of us are venturing into the library as readers in our own right. But if you haven’t spent a lot of time in the library, entering it can be overwhelming.
Here are 9 things to know before visiting the library.
Find your local library
Before heading to the library, visit your library’s website or social media pages to find out a bit more about the library, including the hours and services they offer. Be sure to review their checkout and interlibrary loan policies and find out what materials you’ll need to bring to get a library card.
Take a bag of books
Even if you only plan a few books, bring a bag with you. Having a bag to store your books keeps your hands free for browsing, and it takes the strain off your arms a bit.
When it comes to choosing your bookcase bag, you need a sturdy bag that can hold a lot of weight without breaking. It should also have plenty of room for your books without having to fold them. Usually a sturdy tote will work well as a library bag.
Take your time browsing
Plan your trip for a time when you don’t have to run to anything else so you have plenty of time to browse the shelves and find what you want to read.
You won’t spend the same amount of time browsing each time you visit the library. Sometimes you will need more or less time depending on the day and if you are looking for specific books.
Talk to the librarian
While some librarians fall into the stereotype of being grumpy and rude, many are actually friendly and enjoy discussing books with customers. Librarians are there to help, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you’re not sure what to read, librarians can usually give you suggestions based on books you’ve enjoyed in the past. It’s one of the ways I’ve found new authors and books that I love.
Don’t forget to return your books on time
Returning your books is one of the most important parts of going to the library because if you don’t, you’ll be slapped with late fees that add up quickly.
One of the best ways to remember this is to save your library receipt and put it somewhere you’ll see it often. This will help you remember which items you have borrowed and when each is due. Some libraries also allow you to sign up to receive emails or text messages that let you know when you have items to return.
Obtain an interlibrary loan
If your local library doesn’t have the book you’re looking for, you can often get it through interlibrary loan. An interlibrary loan is when your library borrows a book from another library for one of its patrons.
Your librarian will ask you to fill out a form with information about the book. (You may also have to pay a small fee.) They will then contact the libraries that have the book to borrow it.
Usually it takes a few weeks for the book to reach your library. In this case, the library will contact you.
Take a friend with you
If the idea of going to the library alone is too daunting for you, bring a friend with you. Work together to find the books each of you like. You could even make it a game of finding books you think the other person should read and then reading them together.
Libraries are not just for books
Books aren’t the only items available at checkout. Many libraries also offer a wide assortment of movies, video games, magazines, and books on CD.
The selection is based on the size of the library and what most patrons like.
Discover the library’s bookstore
A few years ago, I discovered what has become one of my favorite places in the library: the bookstore.
Library bookstores are wonderful because you can find so many books for a fraction of what they would cost if you bought them new. Usually you’ll find a mix of old library books and donated books that they haven’t found a place for. They also have selections of magazines, DVDs and CDs.
The library is one of my favorite places on earth because it’s a place where everyone can learn and grow. This makes it one of the most powerful places in the world.