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A Resource for Libraries

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Kids and their parents at the library Parents playing peek-a-boo A parent reading a book with a child Kid playing at the library

Collections

Libraries offer a rich collection of books and materials that span all disciplines and knowledge levels. As trusted community anchors, libraries are natural and safe places for families to go to learn together and access these important resources. In California, public libraries circulated 240.5 million materials in FY 2012, the second highest circulation in 10 years. Circulation of children's materials has increased by 15% in the last 5 years and comprises over 40% of all materials circulated in public libraries.

For families who do not have other links to community information, libraries are places—and in some communities, the only places—where they can borrow books, story time kits, and other materials for home use; learn firsthand how to engage in age-appropriate activities with their children; or locate high-quality child care providers and other local services.

To improve the library experience for families, libraries are rethinking their collections – what they include and how they are organized.

  • kids toys Many libraries have added toys, making the library not only more welcoming for young children, but more supportive of the way young children actually learn – through play. One benefit has been an increase in family time spent together at the library. Here's one parent's perspective about San Jose Public Library's Wee Play program:

    "THIS WAS A VERY PLEASANT SURPRISE. IN THE PAST, I'VE FELT IT WAS BETTER TO LEAVE MY 1½ YEAR-OLD SON AT HOME WHEN BRINGING MY 3½ YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER TO THE LIBRARY BECAUSE I DIDN'T WANT MY SON TO CUT OUR LIBRARY TIME SHORT DUE TO HIS RESTLESSNESS. HAVING THE WEE PLAY AREA WITH TOYS KEEPS HIM ENTERTAINED AND MY DAUGHTER ENJOYS IT AS WELL. NOW I CAN BRING BOTH OF MY KIDS TO ENJOY THE LIBRARY."
    —Parent, San Jose Public Library, 2014

  • books in the library Some libraries have reorganized their collections, breaking with strict cataloguing rules, to increase usage and customer satisfaction. For example, shelving parenting books in the children's section makes them more easily accessible to harried parents with limited time and young children in tow. Another example of reorganizing collections is Folsom Public Library's Pirates, Princesses, and Trains, Oh My! project in which they reorganized their children’s pictures books by theme – actually making them easier to browse, use and maintain – by children, families and library staff alike!