When was the last time you visited your local library? With so much available online these days, it can be easy to forget about everything that libraries have to offer. In addition to a wide range of books in paper, audio, and digital formats, libraries have resources for all ages, needs, and interests, fun events, and community programs. Don’t forget, this is all free with a library card. You don’t have to spend a bunch of money to keep up with your latest novel series or to entertain your kids on a rainy day. Go to the library.

The Basics

A special reading area in a local library.

Image via Flickr by librariesteam

If you haven’t been to the library in a while, start at the front desk. The librarians will be happy to help you get set up with a card and fill you in on all the programs offered. The nearest local library to Allen, Texas, is the Allen Public Library on North Allen Drive. This library is open throughout the week from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, and from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. The Allen Public Library is closed on the weekends but offers a curbside pickup service Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Only people 5 years and older can get a library card. When you’re ready to get a card, you’ll need to provide proof of residency in Texas. A valid photo ID with a current address must be provided to get a card and those under 18 will need a parent or guardian to sign for them. Once you’ve got your card, you’re ready to take full advantage of everything the Allen Public Library has to offer. 

Activities and Events

Keep an eye on the library’s website to see what activities and events are coming up. Some are weekly, monthly, and annual events while others might be a one-time opportunity. Special craft and story times typically happen around the holidays, so be sure to check in during those times of the year. Some of the regular events you and your family can enjoy include local book clubs, Library After Dark murder mysteries, trivia games, and Story Walks

Story Walks are a fun outdoor family activity that brings together nature and reading. Pages of a book are made into signs that are placed along a short walking trail. As you walk the trail, read the pages of the book, and enjoy an interactive reading experience. This event typically takes a break during colder months but starts up again in the spring. 

Kid Resources

Libraries are great for kids on rainy or cold days. No matter their ages, kids are sure to find books, movies, puzzles, and more that interests them. The book collection ranges from baby board books to teen-reader series novels. Have kids that are more interested in sports, science, or math than reading novels? There’s something for them too. There’s always a book that will engage any child, you just need to know where to steer them. 

Aside from the massive selection of books, libraries also offer other fun and educational resources for children. STEM Kits are available for three different age groups: 3 years and older, 5 years and older, and 7 years and older. Kits can be reserved online, picked up at the front desk, and returned within a week. Younger kids can enjoy kits that include wooden train sets, magnetic building sets, and even a Kinderbot. 

Take and make kits are also available for young kits to enjoy at home. Families must register for kits ahead of time to ensure that there are enough supplies for those interested. New weeks are available each week covering different interests. Kits involve water play, puzzles, and some include craft supplies to create something cool. There are different kits available for teens and younger kids. Grab and go craft kits are also offered each week, but these are just given out on a first-come-first-serve basis, so you don’t need to register. 

Adult Resources

Take and Make Kits are also available for adults. Learn to make beautiful designs by stitching fabric and enjoy other fun projects. These kits are available twice a month and require pre-registration. Adults can also take advantage of various classes that the library offers on topics like home buying, personal finances, and arts and crafts. 

Whether you’re an avid reader or want to build a strong reading habit, the Allen Public Library has plenty of resources to support you. Can’t decide what to read next? Check out their Next Reads resource. You’ll fill out a quick form specifying your interests and the library will send you three to five personalized suggestions to get you started. Inside the library, you’ll find hard and paperback books covering all different genres and topics. 

Browse classic novels from all over the world, New York Times Bestsellers, cookbooks, and much more. Audiobooks, DVDs, and CDs are also available to borrow. Many titles come in large print, and if you’re looking for a particular large print title that’s not at the Allen Public Library, they can call around to other local libraries to find a copy and have it sent over so you can pick it up when it’s ready. 

Online Resources

If you have an eReader, or any device that allows you to read eBooks, the library also has a huge collection of eBooks you can rent. Using the cloudLibrary program is easy and gives you access to hundreds of titles. Audiobooks and magazines also come in electronic formats you can access from your devices as well. The TexShare database is also a valuable online resource that provides access to many types of research information including legal forms, academic journals, and news articles. 

Our center for childcare in Allen, TX, encourages families to take advantage of their local libraries. Head to the Allen Public Library and see what you and your family can get involved in. Grab some books, movies, and more to take home and enjoy. Even if you can’t to the library for a visit, be sure to try out their online resources or curbside services.