3 Ways Expecting and New Parents Can Make the Most of Their Library
Put the library into your parenting routine — you and your baby will thank the librarians!
The list of places you go with a newborn is short. Right now mine includes home, the pediatrician’s office, and my parents’ house. That’s it. Occasionally we’ll venture outside for a walk, but enclosed public spaces during flu season are just too risky for a little developing immune system. So even though there will surely be storytimes and play circles in our baby’s future, right now our local library doesn’t make the cut. And that’s okay.
As a librarian in the habit of placing holds and browsing digital collections, I was in a pretty perfect position to make good use of library resources throughout my pregnancy and I plan to continue to do so during these first few secluded months. But I know that not everyone, especially expecting parents with so much on their plates, has the time to look into what may or may not be on offer from their library. So here are just a few ideas for getting started. All of these are cost-saving and most don’t even require you to leave your house!
Tips for before the baby arrives:
- Find your preferred parenting books. As soon as you announce you’re pregnant or planning to bring a baby into your home, you’ll start to hear advice and stories based on other parents’ experiences. You may also get some book recommendations from friends, family, or your doctor. Either way, borrowing books (in print or ebook formats) until you find what works for your family can save you money and unnecessary clutter. Ask for the latest edition of a classic, something super specific, or new and popular titles to see if your library has them in their collection. If you’re looking for inspiration from baby naming books, which are handy for only a limited time, libraries are definitely a good way to go. On a personal note, I found myself drawn to candid reflections on parenthood from authors such as Angela Garbes (Like a Mother) and graphic novelist Lucy Knisley (Kid Gloves) Their books among others shed some much-needed light on the path I had ahead and made me feel more connected to a wider universe of parents.
- Get to know your future children’s librarian. If you’re expecting your first child, you may not previously have had good reason to identify the children’s librarian at your local branch. But now is the time! Talking to someone like me before you have a baby in tow serves multiple purposes. Most importantly, you’ll know who to go to if and when you need us for questions, upcoming library events, or community resources. Get on the newsletter mailing list if your library has one! Also, if you’re looking to build a home library of your own, you can ask for guidance. Find out the best board books to read with infants or bedtime stories that have appeal for both baby and parent. Part of our job is making it easy for parents and caregivers to fold early literacy practices into their everyday routines, so we’re more than happy to help you get started on the right foot.
After the baby arrives:
3. Late night listening and viewing on library apps. New parents are frequently warned about the late nights and early mornings required for attending to newborn needs. I’m just over a month in and know now it’s no joke. Sometimes it’s a struggle to keep my eyes open and focus on the task at hand, so I find it helpful to listen to something engaging as a way to pass the time. Enter free library apps like Libby and Hoopla that let you borrow ebooks and e-audiobooks from anywhere using your library card. Plus, you never have to worry about late fees because they automatically go back after the lending period. If you prefer to stream the night away, more libraries now have video options with a growing collection on Hoopla and more extensive offerings on movie-specific streaming platforms such as Kanopy. As an added bonus, these will also come in handy for kid-friendly viewing options in the future.
I know that when we picture parents in libraries we tend to think of those a little further along in their journey participating in storytimes, toddler dance parties, homework help, and the like. But taking these “baby steps” to incorporate the library into your routine as a family can make it that much easier to establish a relationship between your child and the library that may very well serve them for the rest of their lives.