Using the Library more Effectively and efficiently

by Mary Ann on July 12, 2011

basket of books picture

My book basket runneth over!!

“Do you need a bag or maybe a box?” There is a big smile on the librarians face. “That’s a lot of books, you opening a school?” “Sorta” I respond. (I have learned to take a basket!)

I use the library extensively. I only want to go every three weeks or so. So I always want to use the library effectively and efficiently in that trip. When I go I spend about an hour. In that time I gather enough materials for at least three weeks of the Traveling Closet and other kid activities that I do. Sometimes if I can carry them, I make room for four weeks.

Just as an illustration of how it works for me let me walk you through the last two visits that I made to our county library. This will help you see how I use the library effectively and find books in library.

When I walk in I head straight for the kiosk by the children’s area. I peruse all the books that they have set out. They usually follow a theme or two and are a wonderful source of inspiration for me.

library kiosk picture

Lots of my inspiration comes right from here

Week A:

I had already decided that I would introduce the children to dragons and then fairies. (Children learn about dragons, Children learn about fairies). There was nothing on the kiosk of interest this day and so my next stop was the information desk. I have to confess that I rarely find books for myself in the library. We have some wonderful librarians who are willing to help me out and so I let them.

librarian picture

Good librarians know their stuff! and are willing to help you

  • First question: “Can you help me locate some good books about dragons for preschool age and children?”

They use their computer to do a search and then help me pull the books from the shelf. This is also very helpful because invariably they will say something like, “you know authors name writes some wonderful books about dragons or there is a book that I really like called title of book. These women spend all day with books and they know their stuff.

  • Second question: “Will you help me find some books for the same age groups on fairies?”

They repeat the search, help me pull some books and then show me an area in the stacks with lots of options. I thank them and tell them I will look myself and if I need more help I will call them.

  • Third question: “Do you know what videos you might have available on dragons and fairies in the library?”

Another search. We find one good one on dragons. There are a couple on fairies at other libraries. Since I don’t need them for a couple of weeks we order them.

Sometimes while the librarian is searching or looking for specific books I just read titles in the kids section. Occasionally I will find a stray book they didn’t think of and it also leads me to new topics. That is what happened on this trip.

dragon books shelf in library

I like looking at the books just looking for an inspiration

I saw a cute book called Wiggle by Doreen Cronin. That got me thinking and I wondered if I could find other books about what our bodies can do. I showed the book to the librarian and sure enough she knew an author who had written a number of books like Wiggle and she also thought of two books by other authors that were really good. I found a couple just by searching the stacks.

I am headed home ready for three weeks of fun!

Week B of using the library effectively:

When I went to the library this week I had nothing in mind for the upcoming weeks. No sparks, no inspiration. So I headed for the kiosk. It had books of fairy tales and fables from all over the world. BINGO. I will read my grandchildren the stories and help them find the country on the map.

I took those that would work best for preschoolers. I got a paper and pencil from the librarian and wrote down the titles, authors and country of origin for all the rest. These will be stored in my Inspirational file under Fairy Tales and Fables for use in a few years when the children are older and I want to repeat the topic.

Week one is DONE!!!

Next I went to the adult stacks. On the stacks are sign saying things like Animals, gardening, and so forth. Hmmmm, what looks interesting today?

library shelves picture

Searching the stacks yields lots of fruit

I looked first in the section under animals. In our library there are children’s picture books, chapter books and adult books in the stacks together. Very convenient!

I saw a book called A Kid’s Best Friend by Maya Ajmera. Dogs would be a perfect summer topic as the children I work with have two of them. Right there I found five books on how to care for your dog, different kinds of dogs, making friends with dogs, and dog facts. Very Cool.
Kids learn about Dogs

Week 2 DONE!!!

As I finished putting the last dog book in my basket it occurred to me that it might be fun to talk about gardening since we have a garden together at the community garden. We go there often to water and we three families (myself and two daughters) planted it together.

I found a book about how pumpkins grow, Ureka! We have planted pumpkins. There was a book  about how apples grow and how they are harvested. I found a wonderful book on gardening projects for kids. What does a garden look like in each season and what is happening under the ground? I found a book to tell us. And finally a book called Fantastic Farm Machines. We can talk about what happens in very BIG gardens and how their gardening tools are really different than ours. My 3 year old grandson is going to LOVE this.

Week 3 DONE!!!

fantastic farm machines book picture

Fantastic Farm Machines

And that is how I do it. I go every 3-4 weeks and I carry as many books home as I can. I decide in what order to introduce the topics. I read the books and that gives me ideas for projects and crafts to supplement the reading. (Then I google!) I think about ways to introduce math, spelling, writing, science and so forth. I write all my ideas down.

Then the week before I begin I decide what to put into the Spark Station each day or every couple of days.

Then I make the Spark Station available in the correct way to create anticipation. Some weeks go better than others. Some topics are more fun than others. Sometimes we learn more than at other times. But we always have fun being together!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kelly October 24, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Love this!


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