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10 NEW Ways to Use your Library Card
The most important tool you have in your teaching toolbox is free. With it you can tap in to a massive amount of educational material appropriate for every age, grade level, and even adults. It will take a child from touch and feel board books through grad school and beyond.
You probably have one in your wallet right now, but you might take for granted how truly powerful it is – it’s your library card.
NEVER underestimate the power of your library card.
Now, let’s talk about ways you can use it. Yes, you probably already take the kids there to browse picture books or take out their favorite chapter books, but your library has so much more to offer! Books are just the beginning!
10 NEW Ways to Use Your Library Card
If you’re well-versed in library culture, you might already know a few of these. But read on anyway, you might find a few new tricks for your classroom or homeschool.
1. Build a Rotating Library
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your homeschool library or if you’re drowning in your own classroom library, you’ve probably gotten the advice to rotate your books. It’s a decent idea – stash some books in storage while you browse the rest.
I have two problems with that: 1) I can never remember what books I have in storage (and if I do remember, I don’t have time to go dig them out) and 2) I’m tired of buying dozens of books that my kids read once and never touch again.
The answer is simple: use your library card to rotate library books instead.
Instead of ordering books to buy, order them on your library’s website. Bring your handy rolling cart with you and load up at the reserves shelf.
2. Have a Game Night (or Day)
I’ve been hearing so much about Family Game Night lately! Board games and role playing and card games… It sounds like so much fun, but buying a variety of games can get expensive very quickly.
Does your library offer games to check out? If so, you’ve got your free family game night from now to forever. Just pay for pizza.
Or take the games into your classroom. How excited would your students be to play a new game for centers or be rewarded with a Fun Friday Game Day? They’ll never even realize they’re learning.
3. Check Out the Toys
I mean check them out – as in check them out of your library, take them home, play, and return them when the novelty has worn off. How long does that take? 2 weeks? 2 days? A couple hours?
Along with games, many libraries offer toys to check out. Everything from little doll houses to puppets to electronic educational toys for older kids. Another great idea for centers or an active, fun reward for working hard!
4. Get Tickets
Ask your friendly librarian what your branch has to offer. Many offer tickets to local science, art, children’s museums, orchestra, symphony – or even the zoo!
Depending on your library’s policy you might be able to access free admission regularly or you might have to wait for your turn for tickets. Either way, what a great excuse to get out and do some hands-on learning!
Teachers, ask if you can pass on your tickets to another patron when they come up. What a great reward to offer a special kiddo who has been working so hard!
5. Learn a New Language
Before you buy an expensive language program, check your library. Many libraries have popular programs like Muzzy for littles and Rosetta Stone for older kids and adults. You may even be able to access the streaming versions for free.
You can also find a huge variety of beginning language materials for children. Everything from picture dictionaries to song kits, familiar books in a variety of languages and more.
6. Take a Tour
Set up a behind-the-scenes tour of your library. You’ll get to see how the library works and where those books go after you put them down that tiny slot.
This is a fun and free field trip that would be great for a class or homeschool group. Follow up your tour with private class or read aloud for your group.
7. Visit the Math Section
Yes, I said it. The math section.
You know the stereotype – there are people who love reading but just don’t get math. Your library will help you bridge the gap with math literature. Lower elementary kiddos will love the fun picture books that gently introduce and explain math topics from skip counting to division. Get older kids excited with math puzzles and game books that add a bit of fun to their math exercises.
8. Stream Movies and Shows
Libraries are keeping up with the digital age by offering movies, shows, and music through online streaming platforms like Hoopla. You now have access to thousands (perhaps tens of thousands depending on your library) of media options with your library card.
This goes beyond replacing your personal Netflix account. Tap into a huge variety of streaming media and educational programming – all for free.
9. Listen to Any Album
In addition to movies, ebooks, and audio, more and more libraries are offering streaming music services for (you guessed it) free. So you might consider ditching your Spotify right along with your Netflix. You might even find albums featuring full, live performances from your favorite artists – which beats the radio versions any day.
Need an educational reason to check out your library’s music selection? Stream your own little library of 60 bpm study music to boost attention and increase focus.
10. Chill Out with Free Wi-fi
I will never understand why people insist and working or learning at the local Starbucks or McDonalds when they can stream at the quiet, temperature-controlled library for free.
Whether you’re taking an online course, researching a project, or just trying to get some work done in peace, head over to your local library and you’ll find free wi-fi and no one breathing down your neck to buy another $7 latte.
This was only ten ways to use your library card, but I could go on and on. Audio books, ebooks, learning to read materials, classes, library challenges, and more.
To find out what your library has to offer, go in and ask a librarian. You’ll find out way more in-person that you can on any website. Librarians are known for their friendliness. They love people who love the library.
And who doesn’t love the library?
Have another new way to use your library card? Tell me in the comments.
Ashley Fox is a former teacher, current homeschooler, and library enthusiast. When she’s not hanging at the library with her three kids, you can find her blogging about education and organization at The Homeschool Resource Room.