Why parents (and their babies, but mostly the parents) need libraries

Parenting / Thursday, April 28th, 2016


I’ve written before about how difficult it can be to entertain the Popple. Like me, she gets restless in our tiny flat. We’ve tried lots of baby classes, but the now-very-mobile Popple can’t sit through most of them anymore. Taking her outside would be the obvious solution to our cabin fever, but we live in Scotland, where the weather is 90% dreich and 10% taps aff*.

And that’s where libraries come in.

Libraries are free, warm havens for parents and their bored children. There’s no pressure to buy anything, so no one blinks an eye if you do nothing but watch your baby run around the children’s area for an hour, pulling books off the shelves and squealing with delight.

(I put the books back, obviously. I spent my high school years working in the children’s room of a library on the evenings and weekends, and I know the pure rage that comes from finding board books in every f***ing corner of the place.)

The Popple loves everything about the library – all the books she can ‘read’ (by turning the pages as fast as she can, usually with the book held upside down), the free pamphlets she can rifle through, the librarians who tell her how cute she is, the other children there who she can stare at awkwardly.

Sometimes we attend Bounce and Rhyme at one of our local libraries, which is a 30-minute session featuring songs and nursery rhymes. These sessions are always packed, showing how much parents NEED something like this – a free, semi-structured event that gives them an excuse to get their babies/toddlers out of the house, even if it’s just for half an hour. If the session leader doesn’t turn up, as often happens at one of the libraries, the parents run the session themselves. We’re just a bunch of tired mums and dads, singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” while sitting on a filthy library carpet and feeling genuinely grateful to be there.

*Definitions for all you non-Scots, courtesy of the Urban Dictionary:

Dreich: A combination of dull, overcast, drizzly, cold, misty and miserable weather. At least 4 of the above adjectives must apply before the weather is truly dreich.

Taps aff: The removing of one’s shirt or other upper body garments, most often in the event of warm weather but also often for purposes of celebration or simple antagonism.

48 Replies to “Why parents (and their babies, but mostly the parents) need libraries”

  1. I completely agree. T and I spent a lot of time at the library Rhyme sessions when he was small and still visit regularly now to get new books. Long live our libraries X #stayclassy

    1. They’re SO important. I think a lot of people don’t think we need libraries as much now that people are reading e-books and spending more time online, but they’re really great for combating isolation,

  2. Yes, love libraries! I have an unfinished (surprise surprise) ode to libraries in my drafts!. They are being sadly culled and their value devalued by inexpensive internet books…but they do offer more than books, if anyone needs more…and yes I know that’s sounds silly! But so much…my bookgroup which I adore is run by the library. We sit in the closed temple of stories drinking wine once a month and it’s more valuable than almost anything else I do ‘extracurricular’ #familyfun

  3. I love my library, it is my safe place. When we first moved to Jersey and I knew no one I practically lived in the place. Nothing bad can happen in a library. Well there was that time Youngest managed to wedge herself behind some book shelves and was stuck for ten minutes but apart from that it is GREAT! #stayclassy

  4. Couldn’t agree more. Libraries are like magical places to me – the smell of them for a start. All of those gems waiting to be opened up and digested. I really hope I have fostered a love of reading in my boys and have taken them to story sessions etc too. The pope will be very glad you did that when she is older I’m sure. 🌸 TY for linking up to #FamilyFun 🎉

    1. My mother always took me and my brother to the library regularly and let us take out as many books as we wanted – I’m sure that’s a big part of why we’re both big readers to this day. Glad to hear you’ve fostered a love of reading in your boys!

  5. Our local library has a weekly storytime for young children that my little one loves. It sometimes surprises me that more libraries aren’t falling victim to budget cuts but I’m very glad that they arent #familyfun

  6. You’ve reminded me that I really need to get down to our local library now that Taylor’s a little older and enjoying books. I really hope that the libraries manage to stay open despite budget cuts – I remember loving them as a child and still love books today x #coolmumclub

  7. Yes, this is a great idea! Dangermouse LOVES books, and singing. Her Mummy loves free stuff and doing something different. Perfect!
    Thanks for the inspo, and for linking up to #coolmumclub Dangermouse sends her virtual love to her first online 2nd percentile buddy the Popple x

    1. It’s hard to entertain wiggly babies! Baby classes were great when the Popple was younger, but now she just won’t sit still. She’s always getting up during activities and walking away to go explore.

  8. I couldn’t agree more. Our library is having a bit of a make over at the moment and sadly they are having to make a few cuts on the children’s services. But before this, it was always a real hub for us parents. From babes to full steam ahead tots… it was always packed. Thanks for linking up to #familyfun 😊

    1. I’m sorry to hear that your library is cutting children’s services – they’re so important to parents who may otherwise feel isolated. (And obviously they’re good for kids too!)

  9. Oh I love the library too – such a haven. And thank you so much for the definitions – really made me chuckle – hope it cheers up soon up there lovely – bet you can’t wait for taps off! #stayclassy

  10. My librarian is the most positive woman I’ve ever met! I have only been to her song sessions once as I have a clash but the toddlers always enjoy it. You are totally right though it would be a shame to lose them. Is yours in fear of closure?

  11. I love reading and signed baby K up to our local library when he was tiny, but since going back to work I haven’t had anytime to take him mainly because our library us closed on a Wednesday which is my day off and the weekends are crazy busy. I think I might have to go online and check opening times to other librarys in our area, you’ve given me a kick up the bum 😊 x #coolmumclub

  12. Yes, yes and yes!! I live in Cumbria with similar weather conditions, and so the library is a regular outing for us. Ours is fab, and also run a rhyme time session once a week, full to bursting with grateful parents!! (And invariably full of wet buggies and coats hanging in the corner too, hey ho!) x #FamilyFun

  13. I love libraries – especially the sessions like Bounce and Rhyme. We have a mobile library that stops at the end of our road which the girls both love visiting although the steps going up to it can be a bit challenging with two small children. Glad that the Popple has fun at the library too 🙂

  14. YES. The library DOES sound like heaven. I wonder if they have a similar Bounce and Ryhme in my area? Have to check! I start to go crazy being couped up in the house.

    I like the definitions at the bottom, proud to say that I knew what taps aff was as my Dads from Glasgow and has said this a few times over the duration of my life. ; )

    Thanks for linking up with #StayClassy!

  15. Where we used to live we had the local library just across the road, it was brilliant. We did bounce and rhyme every Tuesday for about six months when my son was 10 months onwards. It was free, it was chilled, they got the toy box out afterwards. I also got time to browse for books (i never had the time to finish) and enjoy a bit of quiet. I’ve always loved libraries #stayclassy

    1. I know what you mean about the books you never have time to finish – it takes me about a month to get through a book these days, where it used to be more like a week. I’m just too knackered by the end of the day to read more than a few pages.

  16. I love the library. The boys love rythme time. They are at that age now with being independent to chose books and get the out. I love it because it is free and the choice making it cost friendly for people. X #familyfun

  17. Libraries are brilliant safe havens for so many different people in so many different ways. I loved mine when the boys were really young.

    mainy – myrealfairy


  18. We love our local library although we don’t go as often as I’d like. They have a lovely children’s corner where the boys can sit on cushion and pull out a book they fancy and lose themselves in it. I also used to take them to Rhyme Time which our local libraries run weekly and they are a saviour. #fortheloveofBLOG

  19. Completely agree Katie Popple! They are so important to all communities no matter where you are in the UK, it’s terrible that so many are closing when they can be the central hub of some communities. I love the Baby Bounce that is offered for free, and lead by a number of volunteers. We go every week on a Friday to our local library for 30 minutes of sing-song and shaking a rattle. My little girl loves it, and I’m sure it has developed her obsession with singing. It is also a lovely opportunity to support our local library, and have a natter over a latte. Thank you for joining us at #fortheloveofBLOG, hope we see you next week. Claire x

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