Book library has really caught up over last few years in most cities. With growing number of upcoming libraries, one is quite spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting a library for the kids. I, for that matter have gone through 5 library memberships over a span of 5-6 years. While there are books that I do buy for keepsake, typically those that can be read over and over again, most of the reading happens through library books for my kids. I end up buying 2-3 books/month and borrow around 15-25 books/month between both my kids. While I will write about how this has helped my kids in my next article, here are my 2 bits on what you must check before enrolling to one!
SOME BASIC FACT FINDING
- Your time and interests: Are you the one who would rather order at an online library and save time? 20-30 minutes and you are done with your order whereas you need to factor about 2 hours, including travel time, if you were to visit the store library. Having said that, you may still be the type who loves to go out and spent time scanning though the spread before selecting the books. Online library clubbed with home delivery suits you if you are the former. Traditional store library works better if you are the latter.
- Your child’s interests: Does she show interest in books? If NO then look for a library that stacks more of good quality books. This means, books by best seller children’s authors, books with colorful and quality illustrations, books in good condition, not torn, a friendly librarian to help you select the right books etc. One of the main reasons why kids donot take to reading is because they are not offered age appropriate interesting story books.
LOOK BEYOND BOOKS
Once you have scanned through these basic criteria its time to look at what the library has to offer beyond books.
- Book Club: Does the library have a book club where kids can meet? Book clubs are a great way to encourage imagination and sharing of thoughts.
- Recommended book list: Having recommended book list means you will save time, pick age appropriate books and get some guidance if you are a first time mommy.
- Quality of books: Once you have enrolled, it could be quite frustrating to not find the authors or publications that you are looking for. So choose one that stacks a good spread of quality books.
- Book Reading: Many libraries invite authors to conduct book reading sessions for the little learners. I am yet to come across a child who doesnot love these sessions. In most of these sessions it feels as if the story has come to life, the child is more likely to pick the book and continue reading.
- Events and Workshops: If the library conducts workshops, say for Halloween or Christmas, it’s going to be extra fun for you and your child.
- Reading area: If you are planning on a ‘Store’ library, check if it has a reading area with cozy seating where your child can enjoy the books while you scan through them for your next order.
- Ambience: A cramped up library can get quite frustrating and you may feel rushed up to choose your books and exit quickly.
- Go the extra mile: Some libraries make your child feel special by putting a personalized note or gift wrap around festive seasons. Says Shefali Malhotra, the owner of the upcoming online library iloveread.in in Gurgaon/Delhi. ‘When I wrap the books around Christmas and deliver to their home, the kids can’t wait to grab them and see what Santa has sent them.’ The library also believes that there should be no registration charge and parents should only be billed for the rental of the books.
- Late fine: This can actually be a big put-off, I would rather enroll someplace which is more flexible on minor delays.
- Charges and Restrictions: The library ideally should allow me to take as many books as I would like. Some libraries like Mumbai based http://www.teltrilogy.com/ allows you to come and pick books unlimited number of times in the month.
- Other facilities: Does the library also stock toys, CDs, magazines and books that you would like to pick for yourself. Does it conduct Birthday parties or supply birthday party equipment’s etc.
- Ease: Most importantly, incase of an online library check if the delivery is regular and website is good enough for you to use. For ‘Store’ library check if its in your vicinity, is there enough parking, whether it is open on weekend and are the store timings suitable to you.
What other advice do you have? Please share them in the comment box below