Dear New Parents, the Library Has You Covered

We answered some of the most frequently asked questions that new parents have about the library.

Your local library is ready to support you with storytime activities, free educational resources, and accessible caregiving accommodations. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about library services for new parents.

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Do Libraries Offer Storytime for My Baby?

Most libraries offer storytime to children of all ages, including preschoolers and infants. If you aren’t entirely sure, it’s always a good idea to check your local public library’s website or give them a call to receive confirmation. Otherwise, check your local library’s calendar to determine when they host storytime events. Modern storytime has evolved to incorporate other engaging activities such as yoga, STEAM, and sensory-friendly recreation. Many libraries have storytimes specifically for infants and new parents. Libraries can be a great way to meet other new parents and give your new baby a unique social and cognitive experience.

What If My Baby Is Noisy at the Library?

Libraries are designed to be welcoming public spaces. Children’s rooms are specially designed with children in mind. Libraries have evolved to be versatile spaces where children and parents can feel comfortable. The library staff wants you and your baby to use the space and will be happy to welcome your baby, even on a fussy day.

Do Libraries Host Programs for Infants?

Just in, yes! There was an unmet need for infant programming in libraries, but that has changed with the inception of new programs such as “Catch ’Em in the Cradle.” This program originated in Florida and has spread across the United States.

“Catch ’Em in the Cradle” gives new parents library kits that include free information on how to stimulate an infant’s language development. They also provide a list of books for babies and parenting resources. Give your local public library a call to find out if they offer similar programs for infants and toddlers.

Are There Any Community Opportunities for Parents?

Being a new parent can be an overwhelming and lonely experience. It can be helpful to have a community of other parents going through similar experiences to provide mentorship and support. Thankfully, your local public library may be able to help you find that much-needed community. The calming atmosphere of a library, along with its safe programming, makes it a family-friendly environment for everyone.

Why Should I Bring My Young Child to the Library?

There are many benefits to bringing your child to the library, even when they’re very young. Much evidence proves that libraries can be an essential part of early childhood development. For one thing, libraries engage childhood literacy. Being exposed to literature and encouraging your child to read can help them absorb a lifelong skill. Bringing your child to the library increases their empathy, communication skills, and love of learning.

Do Libraries Provide Safe Spaces for Breastfeeding?

Many modern libraries have safe, quiet, and accessible areas for breastfeeding parents. Suppose they don’t have a designated space for breastfeeding. In that case, library staff should always accommodate mothers who need to use a quiet area for nursing. These spaces should also include accessible information about breastfeeding, breastfeeding for all cultures, and literature that normalizes breastfeeding. If you’d like to learn more about your local library’s breastfeeding accommodations, never hesitate to talk to your librarian or give them a call.

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Does My Library Carry Diverse Children’s Literature?

Libraries are committed to being a safe place for all people. Many have taken the initiative to include children’s literature featuring underrepresented community members. Examples of diverse children’s literature include books featuring people of color, LGBTQIIA+ families, and children living through financial insecurity.

These are only a few of the numerous topics diverse children’s literature covers, and many libraries carry books featuring a diverse range of experiences. To find a book that represents your community, take a moment to browse through Diverse Book Finder, Everyday Diversity, or ask your librarian about their selections of diverse children’s books.

Do Libraries Provide Changing Rooms?

In compliance with the BABIES act of 2016 and requirements determined by the ADA, bathrooms for all genders in public buildings must have accessible charging stations. This legislation means that changing stations must be placed at least 27 inches from the floor and located in a part of the bathroom that is free of obstacles.

How Are Libraries Responding to COVID-19?

The Public Library Association released the results of a COVID-19 survey in May 2020. This surveyed more than 3,800 U.S. libraries ranging in many specialties. The results revealed that most libraries are engaging in community crisis responses. They reported an increase in the use of digital services. Many U.S. libraries respond to food insecurity, provide accessible library services outside of their buildings, and adhere to all safety protocols upon reopening. Libraries are also engaging in cutting-edge research to make their facilities and materials clean and safe for all users.

Are There Educational Resources Available for New Parents?

There will always be educational resources available for new parents at your local library. These can come in the form of parenting books, eBooks, or audiobooks that help people navigate their lives with a new child. Consider acquainting yourself with your local librarian to find out if they can provide any other helpful resources as you transition into parenthood.

How Can I Get Book Recommendations for My Child?

The best way to get book recommendations for your child is by asking your local librarian! Librarians are trained professionals that devote their degrees and expertise to books, research, and customer service. Interacting with other parents at the library will also allow you to ask about their book recommendations.