The Thrifty Tortoise – Singing the Praises of the Public Library

An idle parent is a thrifty parent.
– The Manifesto of the Idle Parent (Tom Hodgkinson)

I know that this post will securely place me in the ‘geek’ category, but I LOVE the library! For $12 a year, we borrow hundreds of books, CDs, DVDs and take part in free programming. I would rank the library as my top [nearly] free family activity.

Here are the top ten reasons why the library should be part of any free-range parent’s week:

1. THE BOOKS. Sounds obvious, right? But after reading Olivia for the 100th time, I love having new books to read to The Bear. It’s so refreshing to come home and unpack 20 new stories.

2. IT’S PART OF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD. We run into neighbours at our library, we have got to know the librarians, and The Bear goes to storytime with children who are in her playschool. Going to the library makes us feel part of a community.

3. THE LIBRARY IS ALWAYS OPEN. You don’t need to plan to attend the library on a certain day or be there at a precise time. The library can be visited whenever you want. It’s taking you 30 minutes longer to get the kids in their snowsuits and out the door. So what? No rush. The library is still open.

4. IT’S ACCESSIBLE. We can walk to our branch. But if we couldn’t, there is free parking and it is on a bus route. We don’t need to plan a big trip for a library visit; it’s simply part of our weekly routine.

5. IT’S NEVER CROWDED. Despite the fact that the Canadian Library Association claims that 2/3 of Canadians own a library card, I’ve never been overwhelmed with swarms with people. Compare this to the masses taking part in ‘free’ family events or festivals.

6. IT’S WIRED. Hear an author interviewed about their new book? Search for it on the library website and put it on hold. Want to get some ideas about kids Christmas music for the season? Find other users’ lists through a few clicks at home.

7. THEY HAVE FREE KIDS ACTIVITIES. It’s been -30 for a week and everyone has a serious case of cabin fever? Take them to story time. And story time isn’t like I remember it as a kid. The librarians sing songs and use puppets in addition to reading books.

8. AN OPPORTUNITY TO DISCOVER NEW AUTHORS/ILLUSTRATORS/RESOURCES. Every book that I have purchased in the last few years was first borrowed from the library. If The Bear is continually asking to be read a certain story, you can be sure that the author/illustrator goes on the list of books to investigate for Christmas/birthday gifts.

9. NO UNANTICIPATED EXPENSES. Ever go to a ‘free’ family event in the height of summer? It’s hard to say ‘no’ to the ice cream vendor or a request for lemonade. A visit to the library will not tempt you into buying anything.

10. IT’S GOOD PRACTICE. I want to develop a love of books in The Bear and Banana. The library will help us to do this.

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3 Responses to “The Thrifty Tortoise – Singing the Praises of the Public Library”


  1. 1 roma March 2, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Here, Here!

    Charlotte and I belong to a new parent’s group and last week we had a visit to the local library (surprising how many people are not actually members!!). Anyway, they talked about Rhyme Time (infants) and Story Time (toddlers) sessions which are run once a week, similar to what you mentioned and a brilliant introduction to books and the library for the little ones, as well as handy tips that I (as a nerdy bookworm ;-)!) may have already known but surprisingly a lot of others out there don’t…

    But there was a surprise for me as well – the librarian mentioned to us that 9 times out of 10 if you recommend a particular book and request the library add to their collection, they will do it (unless against their policies or inappropriate – fair enough) because if one person suggests it, it’s probable that others will be interested in it as well. A great way, not only to save money, but also to share great resources amongst the broader community. (and she said it is also good for them as it adds to their statistics, they’ll get more funding and then there will be more books available for everyone! Can’t lose!!)

    Not sure if other libraries are the same, but you never know unless you ask 🙂

    • 2 Mama Tortoise March 2, 2010 at 1:50 pm

      Absolutely! The Edmonton Public Library has the same system. We’ve recommended books in the past that weren’t in the collection and they have always brought them in for us. LOVE the library!

  2. 3 Ms Ella January 30, 2010 at 8:40 am

    You should REALLY forward this on to the library! There is there new campaign for 2010!


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