“Before my kids started school they begged me to take them to McDonald’s play land every day. That’s all they cared about. Now that they’re in school they seem to love to bring home books from the school library. Where else should I take them?” My single-mom girlfriend, mother of two, Stevenson Ranch resident asked.
“Let me tell you Pupster (our pet name for each other), what my mom turned me onto before mine started school.”
I know it seems that my favorite subject is our local libraries. You either have been to one of the three or not. Every time I drive past the new location for Canyon Country I’m rendered dizzy by the size compared to our old one. They used to boast the largest children’s selection in LA County. Now what will they be able to house?
First let me try to hit you in the pocketbook. Did you know you could pick up discarded children’s paperbacks for a dime? A child’s hardback for fifty cents? The Valencia branch has at least three more bookcases for adults stuffed with both; all around the three-dollar apiece range. Did you know you could “borrow”, as opposed to rent, adult and juvenile movies, cassettes, CD’s and audiotapes for free? The videos you can keep for seven days while all the others are due back in three weeks. Three weeks for nothing! (When I bring home the eight videotape limit, all new releases for free, I fell very proud of my thriftiness.)
What about those long family drives? Either on your commute to school or a family vacation nothing makes the time go by more pleasantly than a few books with audiotape companions for the little ones tucked in the back seat. Then when they fall off to sleep what better time to get your spouse to listen to that tape on parenting you’ve listened to twice already? Of course if you’re a true SCV mom your sport utility vehicle comes equipped with a TV and VCR, so you’re set to go. What about being able to offer the same PBS educational videos without the mind numbing, gotta have it now mom, ads?
Each library has it’s own calendar of events: some have volunteer readers on weekday afternoons, jigsaw puzzle days and host many charity events. (Samantha and I heard our Master Chorale at Valencia library for free a couple of months ago!) There is never a long checkout line (unlike the big video stores at times) and different branches offer different hours so at least one seems always available evenings, Saturdays and Sundays.
If they don’t have the item you want, and it’s available at a distant branch, they will order it for you. You don’t even have to drive some where else to get it! Their Internet site can help you locate an item. My mother ordered a book for me once from her branch to mine and it was very convenient. Especially when they called me a week later to tell me my book was in. Instead of giving up when I couldn’t find Leni Riefenstahl’s 1970’s book on the African Nuba tribe on their shelves, my mom showed me how to order it myself.
Personally I’ve taken advantage of all our local library offerings. If I miss a week, and have to use the convenient drive up drop off boxes, I feel out of the loop. But I try to get Ed a Jackie Chan video and keep up with Samantha’s demands for a new Berenstain Bears book and tape as much as I can.
I met one mom that was battling with home schooling that showed me where the library held stacks of free magazines on just that subject, along with other parenting magazines. I’ve met many parents there. When one of us starts reading a book aloud other children tend to creep over. Like little sleepwalkers they innocently follow the different character voices we try out like a pied piper. The tables, with chairs always facing each other, are very conducive to reading and quiet, head tilted forward, discussions.
When a child, usually mine, speaks too loudly they are never hushed with a sharp word or gesture. Heck, they are so nice that I almost reprimanded a group of children myself when they noisily used the aisles to play hide and go seek. It’s almost like they don’t want to scare anyone away. They want us there and they’ll take us anyway we come. How nice.
I admit I do more of my reading from the library via audiocassette, especially for non-fiction. I prefer to own books. I add to my little library the same as I do to my wine closet. Like the oft-male dominated slogan, “He who dies with the most toys wins” I have to have mine too. So I’ll select a used book for three dollars to bring home and keep. When I lend the same book to a friend and they forget to return it I feel like a goodwill ambassador, except that I’m not out major bucks. Samantha totally scored when we found hardbound books in the Miss Nelson and The Stupid’s series for fifty cents each. My heart jumps and flutters when I see the word DISCARD stamped over dog-eared, but yet plastic protected, covers.
Sometimes these books bear other children’s names that may have been donated to the library years ago. Not unlike the plaque at Old Orchard Park that tragically states a deceased child’s name and what playground items her family kindly donated to the park; these books become reminders of youth. I can’t help but include their inscriptions when I read them aloud to Samantha. “To our favorite nephew Archibald from Auntie Edith and Uncle Frank. Good luck in third grade!”
What could you be missing by not visiting our local libraries? You figure it out.