Do you know that September happens to be National Library Card Sign Up Month? YES! Now, I know not everyone gets quite as excited as I do about libraries, but I think they get a bad rap. They’re always depicted in movies and on television as these silent halls of dusty books lorded over by ancient librarians glaring and holding their fingers up saying SHHH! Modern libraries are, thankfully, not a thing like that. I mean, sure, they still have books . . . but there is so much more just waiting to be discovered. If you haven’t stepped into a public library in a while, I implore you to read on. You’re going to be blown away by all your public library has to offer.

Set your babies up for success in school.

A huge focus of modern libraries is early literacy for ages 0-5! Public libraries offer a variety of storytimes (aka early learning classes) that have been painstakingly developed by trained librarians to pass on important pre-reading skills to your littles, and more importantly, YOU. These classes teach caregivers many different ways to incorporate those skills into everyday life. Check out the current storytime offerings at St. Johns County libraries.

Celebrate your inner nerd.

Libraries are the best places to find like-minded people who are enthusiastic about the nerdiest things. Star Wars, Star Trek, Pokemon, anime, comic books, graphic novels . . . the list goes on and on! Your public library loves to celebrate pop culture and nerdiness in general with displays, parties, crafts, and more! Some celebratory days the library has recently held events for: Pokemon’s 30th anniversary, Star Wars Reads Day, Batman Day, Shark Week, and May the 4th.

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Find the elusive “mom friend”.

Let’s face it. Finding mom friends is hard. It’s worse than dating. The library is the perfect place to find your play date soulmate! You’re guaranteed to run into other moms at a similar stage of life, with kids the same age as yours by attending events for your child’s age group. Score!

Read to a dog.

Wait, what? Beginning and timid readers benefit greatly from practicing their reading with trained therapy dogs, who are inherently non-judgemental and calm. According to educational therapist Rebecca Barker Bridges, “For children who feel insecure about their capacity to do things like reading, therapy dogs bolster their self-confidence, which reduces their anxiety.”

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Help with homework, anywhere!

We’ve all been there. Your kid brings home a worksheet full of questions that you can’t even begin to answer. Don’t fret, because the library is looking out for you, and you don’t even have to leave your house! With your library card number, you have access to a wealth of educational databases that can help you find the information you need, fast. My favorite is Brainfuse, which includes a ton of educational resources as well as live tutors available to help your children. Wow!

Put together robots.

STEM is alive and well at your library. There are classes on robots, coding, circuits, and SO much more for kids of all ages! Most of these classes, if you can even find them around town, can be cost-prohibitive to many. The library offers them totally free of charge. It’s so important to expose kids to these skills at a young age, since almost every field is, or will be, incorporating computer programming! Your kid will have a definite leg up if they begin learning now.

Discover your long lost ancestors.

No need to pay for that pricey subscription . . . many public libraries subscribe to Ancestry.com for patrons to use. St. Johns County public libraries have Ancestry Library Edition accessible from their database page on-location at any library branch. The St. Augustine Genealogical Society even meets at the public library and can help you in your search.

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Take part in extracurriculars.

Extracurricular activities for one kid are pretty expensive, right? Multiply by several children, and they become pretty cost-prohibitive. But never fear–libraries are here! Whether your child is interested in yoga, dance, art, STEM . . . the library has a class for them. There are a variety of wonderful drop-in and series classes offered for school-age children throughout the year. And just wait for summer! You’ll be blown away by the offerings to keep kids busy and away from the dreaded summer slide.

Pick up the newest release for movie night!

Did you think the library only had books? Not so. You can find the latest releases in movies, music, magazines, and audiobooks too! You don’t even need to go to a library location to access many of these items. Databases like Overdrive, RBdigital, Hoopla, and more can give you instant access to eBooks, eAudiobooks, streaming movies, music, and so much more. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars, personally, by utilizing the library instead of going out and renting or purchasing these items.

Get help with office work or your career.

Did you know you can print, scan, copy, fax, and even get items notarized at your public library? It’s like a public office! You can even use a couple of awesome databases to help change or further your career. Brainfuse JobNow can give you feedback on your resume, prepare you for a job interview, and even set you up with a free job coach. Career Transitions can help you find out which career you might be interested in, give you a load of information on that field, and even help you find available positions!

Whew! This is just a sampling of what your public library has to offer. And, don’t forget to sign up for your library card!

When was the last time you visited your library? 

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Alexandra
Alexandra is a native Floridian, born and raised by the ocean in Daytona Beach. She graduated from Florida State University in 2011 with a Bachelors in English Literature and in 2013 with a Masters in Library Science. During her time in Tallahassee, she also met and fell in love with her husband, Paul. Soon after getting married, they settled down in St. Augustine and began a family as Alexandra pursued her dream job as a librarian with the St. Johns County Public Library System. When she’s not leading storytimes, checking out books, and running the library, you can find her hopping around town with her family. She’s a proud mama to three little boys, born in 2015, 2017, and 2019! Her husband is a phenomenal stay-at-home-dad, and can often be spotted babywearing all over St. Augustine.