National Library Week: Have You Hugged Your Librarian Today?

| April 11, 2009 | 0 Comments


By Cindy La Greca

No, I am not feeling blue at the moment, it’s not a hug for me personally. But this week marks a special time for librarians so I thought I’d let you know about National Library Week. It’s not one of the bigger holidays, that’s true, but this week, April 12-18, get reacquainted with an old friend—your public library.

Be you in the city or suburbs, your local library has something for you. But first, let me ask you if you know what a library does? Most of you can probably answer that it lends you books, which is definitely true. Some of the more astute of you may also talk of free storytimes for children of all ages, or guest speakers, and that’s right, too. But how many of you know that the library also lends out magazines and newspapers and cds, video games, and movies? That’s right, movies. For free. Cancel your Netflix, we’ve got movies galore. Libraries also host Wii and other gaming nights, offer computer classes, craft nights, movie screenings, dance programs, museum passes, sing-alongs, job banks and resume services, school visits and loans, and free WiFi access. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of their services.

There are 79 branches of the Chicago Public Library, plus libraries in nearly all the surrounding suburbs, so chances are, there is one near you that is sponsoring something. Just on the 17th alone, the Harold Washington Library Center is offering a Preschool Story Time and the Millikin University Hollis Prize Recital. Roosevelt Library will be hosting Read & Romp! Story Time & Play Group and Board for the Weekend! Game Day. There will be Craft Adventures at Clearing, a meeting of the Pullman Chess Club at the Pullman branch and Computer Class 3: Internet Search Techniques at Brighton Park branch. The Southside’s Blackstone Branch will be offering an Introduction to the Internet class and Sulzer Regional is hosting Thoughts are Things: Shift your thoughts and change your life! Not to be outdone, the Oriole Park CPL branch will be offering three session of ‘Mother Goose on the Loose’ Baby Time. And that’s just the city ON ONE DAY!

The suburban libraries offer many activities and in most cases, though you may not always be able to check out books with just your Chicago Public Library card, you can still attend their programs for free. Again just on Friday, the Park Ridge Public Library is offering Discovery Days for preschoolers, Just for Boys for 2nd through 5th graders and Junior Librarians Day for young adults. All this week, the PRPL is holding a raffle for a $25 gift certificate to various stores, and they have a free giveaway of pencils and erasers at the Circulation Desk. The brand-new Eisenhower Library in Harwood Heights has two toddler storytimes, for ages 1-3. And the Skokie Library has many National Library Week Events planned, like showing the movie Vicky Cristina Barcelona, hosting their Adventure Club as it travels to the Land of the Midnight Sun for your kindergartners through 3rd graders, having a dance show called “Be the Groove,” accepting votes for the 2008-2009 Voice of Youth Award and handing out ‘green bags,’ loaded with titles about Earth Day (and you can keep the bag FOR FREE!)

Libraries offer something for everyone. All you have to do is stop by, call, or check online for the events planned. If you and your children do not already have a library card, simply stop by your local branch with a picture ID and copy of your lease or utility bills with your current address. It’s really that simple. And remember that having a library card entitles you to check out books not just from that branch, but from all the libraries within that system—putting hundreds of thousands of titles at your fingertips. You can request a title from another library and it will be delivered to your local branch, you can place holds on items, and you can even do research from home with a library card. Use their databases under search tools and have dozens of resources in seconds.

Still not sure what your library offers? Or not sure what book is best to read to your child? Ask your librarian. You can do it in person, via IM, or through email and you will receive suggestions. You can be as vague as you want “I want a book about dogs for my 2 year old” or very specific “when I was 9 I read this book about a horse show, but I don’t remember the title.” Let me let you in on a little-known librarians’ secret: WE LIVE FOR THIS. We’re researchers by nature, so let us help you! Don’t feel like you are ‘bothering us’ while we are at the desk. We exist solely to be ‘bothered’. Your child is not disturbing us when he rushes in to tell us about his vacation, we really DO care! Your 8 year old need not be afraid to ask us where the Magic Tree House books are; we will take her by the hand and show her where we keep them. We can even help you find tax forms, or look up a phone number for you.

So, in honor of National Library Week, please visit your local branch. Most libraries are open till 9 pm on weeknights, all day Saturday and even on Sundays in some cases, so there is no excuse not to go. While you are there, get your library card, sign up for a program or two and take home a few good books. I recommend one from the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom’sTop 10 Most Challenged Books of 2008” list, which was announced just yesterday.

See you at the library!

This is an original article

Cindy La Greca is a part-time children’s librarian and full-time mom.  She writes to you from the Chicago’s northwest side.

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Cindy La Greca is a part-time children’s librarian and full-time mom. She writes to you from the Chicago’s northwest side.

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