Libraries do not make good venues for play dates

Libraries do not make good venues for play dates
Today was a rainy day and my toddler and I had been cooped up in the house. So when I made plans to hang out with my friend S and her almost two-year-old son D, I brilliantly thought, “We can go to the library!” It’s indoors, they have a children’s section, and it’s the library. Only good things happen at the library.

And there are a ton of great things to do at the library. They have story time where if you’re lucky you can hear an adult read a book with funny voices and facial expressions. They have toys, so much so that sometimes I wonder if we go there more for the toys than the books. But yes, we also go for the books. Tons and tons of them. And every time I’ve gone with my toddler, he and I have a good time taking advantage of all these free resources. So off to the library we go.

My friend S arrives with D, and right away we try to catch up on what’s new. But this is near impossible what with having to keep an eye on one toddler pulling books from the shelves and the other one climbing on the furniture. Oh, and ssshhhh…. did I mention that you have to talk quietly at the library? Not exactly the most ideal place for two friends wanting to catch up.

And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a children’s area at the library with doors that close, although I sure wish they would put some up. Even fences… or baby gates… Anything to keep toddlers from exploring beyond the colorful tables and short shelves and into the rest of the library to bother the patrons. To keep my toddler contained in the children’s area, I told him to stay on the brown carpet that we were on and not step on the gray one. So of course he squatted on the border and started poking the gray carpet, wondering why the brown one was okay but the gray one was off limits. S on the other hand, had to get up a few times to fetch her toddler making a mad dash out of the children’s area.

To make matters worse, the librarian noticed the stack of books D had piled up on the table. She asked another dad nearby, “Are you checking out these books?” When he said no, she continued to complain, “I don’t know why kids do this. They just pull the books out. And it has to be one kid; all these books are from the same section.” Oops. Meanwhile, S and I guiltily look away and try to make small talk, “Oh so work’s been crazy for you?” while hoping the other dad wouldn’t rat us out.

My toddler knew what he was talking about when, after an hour into our play date, he said, “Want to go home.” Lesson learned: libraries are great for mommy and me. Even for mommy and daddy and me. But not for play dates. Next time we’ll stick to our homes or anywhere else where we don’t have to hide from a librarian or tell our toddlers to please stay on the brown carpet.

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12 thoughts on “Libraries do not make good venues for play dates

  1. You know, I’ve found that some libraries aren’t even good for Mommy and Me! When we lived in the city it was different, the Children’s Room was open, bright, and the librarians expected it to be noisy. We live in North Carolina now and so far it’s very different. There aren’t very many things for children to do, and I always feel out of place when my toddler makes noise. The librarians are so stern lol.

  2. Oh, don’t get me started about librarians. In our town everything in the library is automated so I see no point in having librarians anyway, especially when all they do is grumble and complain about people coming in to borrow books!!

  3. I’ve been taking a “library tour” with my 11-month-old, visiting our local library (for story time) and one other one that’s outside our city every week. We’ve had both positive and negative experiences. I don’t understand why some librarians are angry with the children when they are playing (or in your case, stacking up books). Isn’t that one of the points of a public library? To engage the children in books? It doesn’t mean they have to ALWAYS read the book. They are exposed to it. And also if they didn’t want children playing, why are their train sets, puzzles, lego tables, farm animals, etc.? Infants and toddlers are having fun and don’t they want these little ones to have a positive experience there?

    I’ve been fortunate enough that I’ve only had a couple of bad experiences in my journey. And for some reason, they do a good job of making you feel like you are the worst mom in the world. But those great experiences make you forget the bad ones right away. Thank goodness my local library is one of the good ones!

    • Good point about the use of books. Stacking books is just as good of a skill to learn as sitting down and reading. Almost everything that kids do is a learning experience, even if it’s not exactly the “right” way to use that item.

  4. Oh noes! I guess we are lucky with our library. They have tons of stuff for little kids to do. The last thing we brought Emilia to was Kid Yoga. That was pretty fantastic. Sidrah just likes to run around, which is probably not okay, but me yelling for her to stop is probably not okay either. : )

    Anyway, I really enjoyed reading this story!

      • I was a bit surprised myself! They also have game nights, lego contests, chess tournaments, all kinds of educational things for kids, lots of arts and crafts projects, knitting clubs, book clubs. It’s a pretty good set of libraries we have in Fargo-Moorhead. We take a lot of advantage of it. 🙂

  5. I’m sorry you had a bad experience at the library with your children.
    Here in Charleston SC, the libraries are setup to accommodate children. They have separate rooms as well as children and teen programs all year long. The librarians are children friendly and encourage play.
    The link below is one of my bog posts that show my son playing at the library.
    http://jaydonanddaddy.com/2011/12/30/78/

    • Normally the libraries are pretty accommodating, and they clearly set up the toys and books for them to use. It was just difficult to go with a friend maybe because I felt like one eye had to keep an eye on my toddler while the other one had to keep a conversation going with my friend. When we go just me and LO or as a family, we usually enjoy our stay there! I do have to say that I was disappointed to hear the librarian (actually I think she was a volunteer) complaining about the misplaced books. I suppose she was probably having a tired day.

      Oh and I still wish they had a separate room where you can close the door to the children’s section. That way parents don’t have to chase their kids around, and the kids can make as much noise as they want within that room. That would be an ideal children’s area for me!

  6. Wow. Sounds like that librarian should find a new job. I would have had to give her a piece of my mind! We absolutely love the library and try to go to story time as often as we can but I’ve never thought to have a play date there. I guess I’ll think twice about that now! Also, I totally agree on the baby gate/doors in the children’s area. This would be genuis!!

  7. Well, lo is 4mo so haven’t been yet. And, we might move, so not sure which library is close — hopefullly one in walking distance, we will see. But, if I want to read to my LO, I have to bring my own books, the library doesn’t stock many braille books. But, I can’t wait to start taking my little boy places that he will enjoy going.

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