We love to beat the heat with a good book —and why not do it for free? Libraries are awesome for a lot of reasons, but this time of year, it’s a particularly great place to bring children for fun, especially as most libraries’ have kid-friendly summer programming. Which means that now is a good time to review library etiquette, for both children and adults.
• Be quiet. This should be obvious, but the library needs to be a quiet place to accommodate the reading and research that happens there. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk at all—just keep it to whispers, or a very low volume. If you’ve ever been to the children’s section, you’ll know that it’s often significantly louder than the rest of the library. It’s normal and developmentally appropriate for children to be loud. Still, reminding your children to use their “indoor voice” is a good idea, as it instills a sense of library decorum that they will hopefully remember and use as they grow older. (Side note: excited children who are loud are often likely running around, too. Remind them to use their “walking feet” to avoid collisions!)
Remember to silence your phones, too. If you need to take a call, go to the lobby or outside. (This might be hard to do if you’re in the children’s section with a young child—if it’s not an emergency, simply call the person back later, or else take the phone call with a very quiet voice.) Leave your music at home, unless you bring headphones and can be completely sure that the music is completely inaudible to others.
• Be patient. This is good advice for spending time in any public place: keep your hands to yourself and leave other people’s belongings alone. Of course, children may reach for the same book, computer, or game at the same time. These are teachable moments on sharing. If your child pitches a fit, calmly remind her that the library can put the book on hold for later, or that she may wait for her turn for a computer station or game. If your child is still screaming, it’s time to gently remove him from the library, with the promise to return once he is ready.
• Be orderly. If you take a book off the shelf, decide it’s not for you, and don’t remember where you got it, what should you do? Place the book on rolling carts that are made for that purpose, or hand it over to a librarian. It’s much easier for a librarian to shelve it in the appropriate spot than look for a misplaced book.
• Be considerate. This covers a lot of bases—like not bringing food or drink inside, wearing appropriate clothing (shirt and shoes!), going into staff areas, being rude to employees or other patrons, engaging in loud or abusive language. But it also means taking care of the books that you check out. Never write or draw in it, or fold or “dog-ear” pages, and teach your child to avoid those things, too. Remember—you’re borrowing the book. You have to give it back so that someone else can check it out. And do remember to return the books on time! You’ll save yourself library fees and help others enjoy the books waiting for them.