Today’s public libraries have more to offer the community than ever before. With free access to thousands of books, programs, and classes all in a comforting environment, it’s a wonderful place for everyone in the family to spend time. Here are a few ways you can take advantage of your local branch.

Kid-Friendly Activities

Small children, absorbed in a book during story time at their local library.

Image via Flickr by Killfile

Public libraries are a terrific place to find engaging children’s programming. You’ll find activities that are appealing to a variety of age groups from storytime for toddles to various clubs, such as Gamers Unite, for older kids and adults. If you attend the Gamers Unite event that’s hosted by the Rock Road branch, you and the family can play board games, card games, or even video games. 

Presentations like “Run Away with the Circus” at the Meramec Valley location are not uncommon. Several playgroups are organized by age, they’re a terrific way for parents to socialize. Most libraries offer holiday events for the family too. They provide fun, free, seasonal activities that help everyone get into the holiday spirit. 

If you’re homeschooling your children, the library is an ideal destination for an educational outing. Parents can take advantage of the available resources, enroll kids in a STEM-focused workshop, or join a library-based networking group. You can also take advantage of health services such as vision screening and eye exams at the Jamestown Bluffs branch.

Skill-Building Opportunities

White pieces during the middle of a chess match.

Image via Flickr by tillwe 

Are you looking for something fun to do, or do you want to learn a new skill? Your library offers adult classes on a variety of topics such as cooking, knitting, and gardening. Do you want to learn to speak a foreign language? Your local library offers learning resources devoted to this topic.

From computer literacy training to chess clubs, a lot is going on at your library. You can even get fit with the county’s annual walking challenge. Glance through your branch’s adult class calendar and see what tickles your fancy.

Do you have a skill or interest you’d like to teach? The library is a great place to get started. Most locations offer a variety of outreach activities every year. Your idea could be a wonderful way to give back to your community while developing your skills as a teacher.

E-Books and E-Readers

A digital tablet poking out of a row of books on a library shelf.

Image via Flickr by Johan Larsson 

When picturing your local library, you probably imagine row after row of traditional paperback and hardcover books . However, modern branches are far from that old-school civic institution that you’re remembering from high school. Today’s branches have expanded their reading material to include e-books on every subject imaginable, they even have magazines.

If you don’t already own an e-reader, see if your branch will loan you one. Whether you’ve got a long family road trip coming up or you don’t have a ton of space to keep your home library up to date, e-books are a terrific way to satisfy your love of reading without lugging around pounds of paperbacks. Maybe you’ll love your loaned e-reader so much, you’ll invest in one of your own.

Seasonal Reading Programs

A small girl is curled up on a couch reading a book in her local kids library.

Image via Flickr by Mr Moss

Does your family need help staying on track with reading goals? Then take advantage of the seasonal reading programs offered at the Ellisville library. While away long winter days with perks and prizes for each book you read. Summer reading programs are generally more kid-based, with themed activities, games, and group events. These programs are gear toward keeping children engaged with learning while on summer break. They’ll earn points for reading that can be exchanged for prizes at the end of the season.

Digital Entertainment

DVD cases stacked up along a shelf in a local library.

Image via Flickr by spaceodissey

Who said the library was just about books? You can also check out new release DVDs, CDs in all music genres, various audiobooks, and even popular video games from most branches.

Do you have a long commute to and from work? Borrow an audiobook and the time will fly by. Save a few bucks and borrow a DVD form your public library. It’s a terrific way to cut your entertainment budget, and you can make it a family event by making some popcorn. Kick the cable habit and check out whole seasons of TV shows in DVD box sets too.

Musical Instruments

A young girl playing the guitar while sitting on a couch.

Image via Flickr by Douglas Pimentel

Here’s yet another surprising way to take advantage of your local library. Four of Ellisville’s branches loan out musical instruments. It’s a marvelous way to introduce kids to the world of music without having to purchase them an instrument of their own before they’re really ready. Check out a ukulele, a keyboard, an acoustic guitar, bongo drums, a xylophone, or a West Africa djembe all from the library.

Budding musicians can borrow any instrument of their choosing and enjoy playing it over the typical borrowing period of two weeks. After that, simply return it to the library and check out another instrument. Instructional books and DVDs are also available with most of the instruments.

Computers and Printers

Two siblings working at a computer in their local library.

Image via Flickr by San José Public Library 

It’s nice to know that if you have a large printing project that your inkjet can’t handle, you can print it off at your library. Some branches even offer other benefits, like free notary services. It’s available at select St. Louis County Library branches during the month of October. Libraries are also a critical resource for patrons who don’t have the budget to buy a personal computer. Many offer laptops for checkout as well as Wi-Fi hot spots.

Office and Study Space

A teenage girl finding a quiet place to do some homework at her local library.

Image via Flickr by West Tisbury Library Foundation

The library is a perfect place for teens and college students who need a quiet nook to study. It’s also a great spot to meet with tutors, and bonus — you don’t have to pick up the house first. If you work from home, the serenity of a library’s workspace can offer a refreshing change of scenery that’s free of distractions, like the growing pile of laundry or that enticing new show on Netflix. 

We all know the library is a place to check out books, but in Ellisville, Missouri, residents will get so much more out of their library system thanks to all the wonderful programs, materials, and activities they provide for the community. What does your family love about our local library system? Let us know, and we’ll be sure to add it to our list.