Okay, these aren’t really secrets. Your local children’s librarian would be happy to tell you about the many programs that are offered, but when you get to the library, you’re too busy pulling books out of the toddler’s mouth or reminding an older child not to run or perhaps sneaking over to the adult shelves for a minute.
There’s really so much going on at the various libraries that I can’t cover it all, although I do try to tell you about special events or events that happen regularly. But, beyond the events, there’s other stuff that you might enjoy.
At this time of year, when everyone’s feeling a little house-bound, keep in mind that you can visit different libraries for a change of pace. Generally speaking, Albany & Rensselaer residents can use their cards at any library within the two counties, and Schenectady card holders have many branches to choose from around Schenectady county. Even if you don’t have a valid card to check out from a particular library, it might be worth a visit. Then, if you visit a library and fall in love, sometimes they’ll allow you to obtain a library card even if you’re not a resident if you pay an extra fee. If you’re nervous about approaching someone, just start the conversation with, “I love this library!” Then even if the answer’s no, you’ll at least have a pleasant chat.
Anyway, here are some library offerings that you might not know about:
At the Albany Public Library, your child can use special electronic tag pens to read books or play games. Similar smart pens work with an electronic globe to let your child find out about all sorts of geographical information. You can also check out Story Totes, which include a mix of books, puppets, music, and/or a felt board, or, for the more mature preschooler, Literacy Packs that include a fiction book, a non-fiction book, and a game that work together to build their literary prowess.
The Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library frequently shows Preschool Movies (if this link becomes outdated, just go to the main site, then click on services, then program brochures). From their main page, you can also click on something called Tumblebooks, which allows kids to view books and play games online.
Guilderland Library loans out Playaways: very simple, small digital devices that allow you to listen to one of the library’s audiobooks. Hey, if you’re going on a trip, you can check out one for each child! They also lend out Book Backpacks that include a picture book and puppet.
The Schenectady Public Library has a Library Pass Program that allows residents to received reduced admission fees to many cultural attractions—a great deal as long as you don’t lose it! You can also use your library card to download audio books through the Net Library. Schenectady also has bags that you can check out that include books and toys based on various different themes.
The Troy Public Library has a Museum Pass Program that allows cardholders to get access to nearby cultural attractions. In additon, they have RPI and SUNY students who come on Wednesday evenings to tutor schoolchildren–you should call the librarian to see if they can accommodate you. Finally, they asked me to put in a plug for the Teen Graphic Novel series that begins this Thursday. Right now there’s plenty of room, so even a tween might be able to squeak in.
At the Voorheesville Public Library, you can check out a Storytime in a Bag; these include an agenda and supporting items. If you want to add a little something to your next playgroup, you’re set. They also put books in themed bags, like Dinosaurs or Trucks. So if you (or your children) don’t have the time and energy to browse, you can pop in and pick up several appealing offerings at once.
The William K. Sanford Library in Colonie has storykits that usually include books, a video, flannels, and puppets on specific themes.
Keep in mind, too, that many different libraries have parenting sections adjacent to their children’s areas so that you can browse while your child is browsing. Another popular program that you’ll find at many libraries is PAWS for Reading (or similar programs), which connects school-aged children with therapy dogs for a little non-judgmental reading-out-loud practice.