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TABmom

Favorite library features?

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I was chatting with our children's librarian today and she asked me what I would like to see in the new library that is in the planning stages. I wasn't sure and thought it would make an interesting topic of discussion! What do you love about your library?

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Things I have loved about our libraries:
In the children's area - appropriate seating for adults and children (side by side wing chairs in both sizes were so much fun!), comfortable kid cubbies, a puzzle/play area, backpacks & bags to take home filled with books/accessories all relating to one topic.

In the adult area - comfortable seating, conference rooms, study areas.

For all - a maker space.  Materials could be used as much as we wanted in that spot and they were usually things that people might not invest in: a 3D printer, a sewing machine, a spinning wheel, books of ideas for each item..it was extremely nice and a way to try it all out before investing in a machine that you might not use much.

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At our new town library, I am able to "borrow" books for two weeks through an online app and have them sent to my Kindle. 

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Our town recently built a new library. I hate it.

The children's section is the first section upon entering the library. Which would be fine, except the design funnels all noise straight to the adult section. I've heard people whispering in the children's section and then wandered to the adult section. The acoustics carry the sound perfectly.

Also, they have no individual spaces for working. There are a couple giant tables (and I mean giant). There are some individual chair things with desks that are all right next to each other. So I can't go find a corner and be alone. I absolutely, positively detest that. And I am stuck with it forever, as I'll never see a new library here.  Or tutors can't really meet privately with students.

Further, the green color they chose is hideous.

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Plenty of seating for all sizes.  

Kids videos and audio books in the kids section instead of all audio books together, all videos together etc. 

Kids computer stuff separated by age level.  So that 10 yr olds don’t only have access to computers with Daniel Tiger. 

Childcare.  I know that’s bizarre and I don’t mean “drop kid off and go shopping” type of daycare.  I mean that, dang it, it’s nearly impossible to get to the library without my kids and since I can’t leave them alone in the kids area, it’s dang near impossible for me to browse the shelves for myself. If I have a specific book in mind ahead of time, I can reserve it but if I don’t, then I basically can’t find one because by the time the kids are finished they are ready to go and browsing for me isn’t an option.  A couple of designated child care hours would be amazing.  

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Ours has outlets in all of the tables and all of the seating. And USB ports in the outlets. And they even have chargers for phones (they have the library's sensor tags tied around them so people don't steal them.)

We have a bunch of puppets (you can even check them out to bring them home) and a little curtain stage thing so kids can do puppet shows.

They used to have toys. That was nice for the toddler age kids, but they just had so many that it ended up always being a mess until they eventually took away all of the toys 😞 Something like a lego area would be awesome! Our library does regularly hold lego events, but we're never able to make it out to them.

They have a little reading cubby place where 1-4 kids can go inside and hide out and read.

They have ipad/smart computer stations. I don't like those, and would prefer if they had a time limit or if they weren't in such a prominent place in the library.

We have a section for parenting books including curricula and extra practice type workbooks (spectrum books, what your X grader needs to know, summer bridge books, etc.)

Oh - just remembered - we DO have a bunch of tied down puzzles and toys spread throughout the children's area. The puppet area is also a baby/toddler area with one of these such toys (it has a busy board on one of the walls and one of those giant puzzle block things that has mazes, beads on a wire, etc)  Some of the tied down puzzle things are on the ends of the long bookshelves. It gives me the opportunity to go look for books within the children's area while DD plays on the end of the shelf. She's playing with the toy rather than pulling all of the books off the shelf, plus she's close enough that I can keep an eye on her.

All of the board books are in forward facing pull-out shelves, organized by first letter of the book's title. I absolutely love this! DD loves to pick her own books and now she's able to put the books away in the right places too (I have her match the N on the book cover to the spot that have all of the other N books, for instance)

We also have a fish tank. Love the fish tank. The kids love it too. The library regularly hosts ducks (they tend to lay their eggs in the courtyard, so we get to watch ducks hatch and grow up from outside the window) and butterflies (each spring they grow a few caterpillars-releasing once they become butterflies)

A nearby library has done so much to cater to the homeschool community - they have purchased so much popular curricula and I believe they have a study room especially for homeschoolers to use.

Our library has been doing boxes too - they've had "book club" boxes/bags for a while now (a few copies of the same book +discussion questions, I believe) but have also started doing discovery boxes (A few books on a certain topic in one box, or books +materials to do the activity in the book - like a field guide about birds, a CD of bird calls, plus a pair of binoculars and a sketchpad in a box that you can check out.)

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Having a sheltered courtyard/patio to eat when it is raining and kids are no longer babies/toddlers.   

Underground parking is wonderful both when the weather is very hot and when it’s raining heavily.

Study rooms. The K-5th group uses them for tutoring, Lego club, chess club, book club, knitting club, leaving the community room free for events with bigger crowds.

Stroller parking area in children’s section. One library has that and people like it. They can park the stroller and walk the aisles with their young kids instead of pushing the strollers through the aisles.

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- self-service holds and check-out

- a children's area separated with proper doors and walls, and a good bathroom for children in said children's area

- study rooms available to reserve

- a room with seating and tables that is specifically marked as a quiet room

- a hold system that allows me visit the library once a week and not risk having any books put back (another library near me has a 3-day hold period and wildly different timeframes on getting books, so even if I wait until my first book ready is about to be put back, another book arrives the next day and I feel like I'm constantly needing to go to the library to pick up books)

- no fines on children's items (it's very rare for us to be late in returning a book, but I appreciate the realization that even what seems like small fines to most of us can become overly burdensome and a hurdle to using the library for some, especially for those who could particularly benefit from free access to lots of books and other items)

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Besides a lot of the things others have mentioned, I like a library with good events/special activities.  

One of the best my oldest attended was a class for 12-16 year olds on doing research at the library.  It met once a week for 4 weeks.  The person leading it taught them about all the different resources that were available, where to find them, and how to use them.  It was geared mainly to homeschool students, but would be a benefit to any kids that age.

Some others we like are a monthly LEGO club for 8-12 year olds, weekly preschool story time, and Harry Potter day (I think it was for Harry’s birthday).

 

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One thing about one of mine (small towns each with a library) is the over-emphasis on electronics/video games, to the detriment of emphasis on reading. 😣

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Surprisingly - Books. My library now seems to spend the majority of their money on things other than books so that they rarely have new books anymore.

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1 hour ago, KidsHappen said:

Surprisingly - Books. My library now seems to spend the majority of their money on things other than books so that they rarely have new books anymore.

This, too!  It seems like with 4 libraries to choose from, we wouldn’t run out of things to read, but with some libraries’ emphasis on tech gadgets (& others’ on lots of programming, which is great, but not to the detriment of the collection!), it’s  not unusual for my girls to feel like the libraries have little to offer them.

 

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Big, comfy chairs!

Online reserving and self checkout

A nearby library has a periodical room with large windows, a gas fireplace, and an inviolable No Talking rule. Lovely!!

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My DD10 is not too old to love the rotation of toys in the children's room. For a while they'll have a play barn out; then a dollhouse; then a pet hospital; then a doll nursery; then a store. You get the drift. Kids don't get tired of the play area and I'm sure it's easier to keep picked up than having ALL the toys out all the time. 

Books, books, and more books. We drive 20+ minutes to another library so my DD can find something new to read. 

Fun classes! We also drive a fair distance to go to a library with special programs for homeschoolers at 1 PM on a weekday. Lovely!

Quiet spaces! Quiet is no longer required in the children's rooms by us, and that's okay...but there MUST be quiet spaces somewhere in the library. Please. 

The ability to check out books for 3 weeks and then renew them. 🙂 

The ability to request interlibrary loans online.

The ability to reserve not only books but DVD's.

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Private rooms for tutoring or group study. I know there’s debate about this, but one of our local branches that has many tables is often so full of private tutors that (1) you cannot find an open place as a regular patron and (2) there is so much conversation it’s impossible to concentrate on reading or writing. The enclosed rooms are wonderful. 

Also, a different branch reno included replacing traditional height tables with smaller round counter height tables with barstool height chairs. They look cool but they are totally impractical. You have to set your purse/book bag way down on the floor and the curved edge of the table makes it hard to work with both a laptop and book/notepad at the same time (not enough table width).

One branch has a nice outdoor area for reading, it’s a fully contained courtyard. Another feature is a book discussion room - it’s set up with cozy chairs, living room style, for maybe 10-12 people at a time. Again, contained, with glass walls to allow for discussion without being too noisy for other patrons. 

Plentiful and easily accessible power outlets are a must.  

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My library in my old hometown had a display area that patrons could reserve to show-off a collection. The displays changed regularly and the staff did not have to do the displays so I am sure it was a win! 

Comfy chairs are a must! Work stations, private study rooms of various sizes, more bathrooms, and check-out stations. 

 

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Our library is looking to the future too.  I'd like to see more books - physical or e-books - I'm at the point where everything I borrow is ILL or NYPL ebook.  I would like to have magazines such as the Economist available rather than fluff and I'd like to have the WSJ and NYT . 

For the children's room -- more books, less computer games. Add strategy board games available for checkout...a lot more valuable than more DVDs. 

Plan in a display space...art work, historical. 

Plan in parking and loading/unloading of people and checked out material.  Really like libraries where one can drop off from the vehicle rather than walk in.  Love it that seniors can access because the sidewalk isn't difficult for their assistive devices, love it that its safe to load/unload the group home van, love it when there are benches to wait for the bus or the ride.

Bathrooms...appreciate it when the children's bathrooms are just children and their caregiver. 

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3 minutes ago, Doodlebug said:

The drive thru window for picking up holds/returning books!

 

Oh, this!
 

One of our former libraries had a set up where there was a one way passthrough between the parking lot and the library.  On the driver's side  going on the passthrough was a book drop.  It was incredibly handy during rain or having only a few minutes to drop things off!
I would love a drive thru window, but I wish more libraries had even something like the above.  Most outside book drops I have seen are on the passenger's side because they're on two-way roads.

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Lower fines, or alternative ways to pay them off. 

-says the woman with $124 in fines, currently. 

 

Edited to add: and a drive by drop off slot to return books. When returning books means dragging all three kids into the library, I tend to put it off 😞 They have an outdoor slot at my library, but it is ONLY open when the library is closed. So if it is during my normal "running errands" time I can't just drive up and drop off my books. I have to park, turn the car off, get all three kids out, walk into the library trying to hold the 2 yr old's hand or take the time to put her in the carrier while wrestling a ginormous basket of books, plus wrangle the unreasonably heavy door, then convince the kids that no, we can't stay right now to browse and pick out new books (which is a 45 minute process, minimum because they all three want me to help them choose stuff specific to them, plus dealing with whatever books the 2 year old grabs off the shelf) we are just dropping them off, 2 yr old then crying so I get dirty looks from the librarian, etc. So yeah, being able to quickly drop off my books without all that would help me avoid those fines. 

Edited by Ktgrok

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