National Libraries Week has been celebrated across the country since 1958. Running from April 23 – 29th of this year, it grants the opportunity to celebrate the contributions of libraries and librarians, as well as promote the multitude of free resources available through libraries. We hope you’ll join us in supporting your local libraries – both this week, and beyond!
In tandem with this event, guest blogger Debbie Woodliffe shares how libraries are beneficial to a child’s development.
According to the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, there were an estimated 2.5 billion registered library users worldwide in 2003. They estimate that there are currently around 1 billion users today, which is a significant drop in usage. It’s clear from this that library usage has fallen out of favour, which is a shame as there are so many accessible services on offer.
Furthermore, literacy is a concern for all, so it should be cultivated and encouraged in young people, but what can we do? Libraries are an essential tool in tackling this, and there are other benefits a library can provide, too – especially for young people.
So, what benefits does a library offer to children?
The most obvious one is the most beneficial. The free access to books of any age, topic, size and length is an invaluable tool in learning and development.
The endless amount of information spanning history, geography and science, as well as the creative and imaginative fictional offerings, allows a child to find out information about anything and everything they want. You could argue that the internet has the same stuff, but a library has it all without distracting adverts, noises or clickbait, and books are generally considered more trustworthy sources due to their vetting and reviewing processes.
Plus, librarians work hard to place the books in sections to help children easily find what they need. Some even sort the books into reading levels or book bands (as they call them in the UK), or by themes such as adventure, friendship or fun!
2. Improved atmospheres for learning
As mentioned above, libraries are spaces typically free from distractions like loud noises, flashing lights, ads and more. They are quiet spaces that enhance focus and promote positive habits.
3. Encourages responsibility
As the book-lending service is at the heart of library life, it’s an excellent opportunity to teach children to be responsible and considerate. They will learn to look after things that aren’t theirs, be conscious of deadlines, and learn about consequences.
Essentially, the process of borrowing, reading and returning a book teaches them respect and time management.
Libraries are often one of the few places a child can feel safe from bullying or unwanted attention. They are accepting spaces which ask nothing of the user – they are just safe and relaxing – a sanctuary.
With confidence in the knowledge they can be themselves, a library can help a child become more self-assured and independent, leading to improved self-confidence as they grow up.
5. Technological access
Not all of us have the same access and funds for the internet, computers, and printing. After all, the whole world is in saving mode due to the rising costs of everything, isn’t it?
Luckily, libraries often have computers for cardholders to do anything from presentations to research or essays. Also, their printing, laminating, and binding facilities may be a more cost-effective choice because instead of having to pay for a printer and ink or laminator out of your own pocket, you can usually pay a fraction of the cost per page or service.
6. A variety of experiences
From reading groups to craft mornings, storytelling sessions and more, libraries offer variety to a child – and all of them are educational. Storytelling sessions, in particular, could be beneficial for the post-pandemic world where face-to-face communication and reading may have suffered.
How to encourage your child to read and use the library more:
- Take them to the library and let them have a look around. Many may have never been before, and the new experience could ignite their interest.
- Attend a library event with them. This will help show all the things on offer.
- Take part in a reading challenge. Most local libraries have summer reading programs, but if your library doesn’t have one, why not make one up? Consider reading series or book-to-film adaptations.
- If you notice your children are interested in a book in the store, why not suggest you borrow it from the library instead?
Anything you can do to get them to visit the library for the first time and use a service is going to be exciting and new and show them the benefits. So, have a go – what’s the worst that could happen?
Tell us your favorite part of going to the library in the comments below.