Growing up, I loved my local library. They had a miniature Stuart Little on a motorcycle that they would move about the building, and I’d run all over to find him. It was also there that I met with my friends, saw my school work showcased, and even-surprise!-checked out books.
These days, a library can be a community’s best-kept secret. People know you can check out books, but don’t know what else they can offer. But look a little closer, and you may be surprised.
If you haven’t discovered your local library yet, here are five reasons why you should, and a few specifics on just what your Collin County library has to offer. Because it’s time to love your library.
(NOTE: Please check with your local library regarding policies and schedules during the pandemic.)
1. They offer more than just free books.
Being able to borrow and return (no clutter!) physical books is the classic library perk. But if you’re currently paying a subscription fee for an audio book service, know that the library offers that, too.
Most libraries have digital collections, and your local library card gives access not just to eBooks and audio books, but also movies, TV shows, music, newspapers, magazines, and kid-specific content.
Different libraries offer different services, but you can check out the Plano Public Library System’s Digital Library, Frisco Public Library Digital Library or the Allen Public Library Digital Library for examples.
2. They offer free services for what you need.
I’ve moved many times in my adult life, and one of the first things I do in my new town is find the library. Not just because I love being surrounded by books, but also because my home office usually hasn’t been set up. The library always comes to the rescue by offering access to WiFi, computers, and printers.
But that’s just the beginning of the services they offer. If you (or your teen) need a quiet space to study, or a free space to host a meeting, your library has a room for you. They’re also there if you have bigger needs:
- For small business owners in Wylie, The Smith Public Library Small Business Center has you covered.
- Looking to accelerate your career while living in McKinney? Check out the McKinney Public Libraries Career Resources.
- Need homework help in Little Elm? The Little Elm Public Library offers access to Brainfuse.
- Have a teenager anxious to hit the road? McKinney Public Library offers free 2021 TX DMV Practice Tests.
3. They keep kids learning and engaged during the pandemic.
Pre-pandemic, I loved taking my kids to the library as an outing. Even at the developmentally different ages of 5 and 1, there were always age-appropriate activities and toys in a calm, air-conditioned space. My daughter’s favorite was an ever-changing Lego display that would keep her spotting something new every visit.
During the pandemic, I could still count on the library to help keep my kids engaged. Whether it’s grab-and-go activity kits, like the ones offered at Little Elm Public Library, or outside activities like Friday Story Time with Craft at Celina’s Library on the Square, local libraries worked hard over the past year to keep our kids safely engaged.
And if you’re still looking for pandemic-friendly activities, Frisco Public Library offers a variety of Story Times for different ages and social distancing preferences. The Plano Library also has their own STEAM channel on YouTube if you have a kid curious about how things work.
4. They provide real-life learning and activities.
Reading is fundamental. But libraries know growing brains are interested in more than just books and stories. If you have kids and teens who are ready to take their love of learning and skills to the next level, your local library can offer real-life learning and interactions to help them do just that.
- Plano libraries have 3D printers for those interested in creating their own designs (only available at Davis, Harrington and Parr Libraries and must have a Plano library card).
- Want to make your kids’ (or grandmother’s) stories come to life? Trail Blazer Press offered through the Frisco Public Library allows you to make your own books.
5. They build a sense of community.
When my oldest was little, toddler time at the library was one of my favorite places to go. It was clean and convenient, with age-appropriate story time and activities. Most importantly, there were other moms.
With all they have to offer, libraries are a wonderful place to build a sense of community. They are designed to support the people and families around them. If this past year has left you feeling disconnected, the library can help.
- Food For Thought Café at the Allen Library is a wonderful place to meet a friend for cookies and coffee.
- McKinney Public Libraries offer an mp3 collection of Oral Histories of Collin County for those interested in learning about the history of their community.
- Frisco has the Ready to Read Railroad education space to engage kids 5 and under in purposeful play.
- For more hands-in-dirt work, the Smith Public Library in Wylie has their Library Garden (currently looking for volunteers!), and hosts seed-swaps for backyard enthusiasts.
And for those who enjoy being a part of the community by helping in it, libraries offer great volunteer opportunities. Many libraries have “Friends of” chapters. These groups, such as the Little Elm Friends of the Library, are volunteer organizations dedicated to sustaining and improving their local libraries. Even if you don’t join, you can still support their various efforts, like book sales, by donating books and buying new (to you) ones for cheap!
Libraries are more than just books. They can be the heart of a community and a mom’s best friend. So, take time today to check out your local library. Research what they have to offer online, and see what’s going on in person. It’s time to love your library.
For more information, you can also check out the Collin County Mom’s Guide to Local Libraries.