I love libraries – but we have had mixed experiences. Not due to the libraries, but due to our children. Many children in their early years are quite rough with books. Not just chewing on them – which is expected, but also grabbing at tabs, ripping pages. I have spent nights with the sellotape before returning shamefaced to the library (maybe librarians hate this and my clumsy mends are worse than the child-inflicted damage?). We had a boardbook only rule for a while.
At a certain point, especially as your child starts to enjoy books and have strong views about what they are read, the fact that library books have to be returned can become a problem. We had to be very clear from the outset that library books are borrowed and have to go back, and which ones those were. We have had a number of tears shed (and screams uttered) when a book has been returned and is then needed a week later.
Going to the library with a child can be fun, but if I want(ed – pre Covid) to browse to dig out good books, I’d team up with someone (usually my mother) who could crawl behind, restoring books to the shelves/box as the toddler investigated. I don’t want to prevent her explorations, but I want to find books that we will enjoy together while leaving the library roughly intact for the next person. Librarians – any other ideas/suggestions for us?
Other options for borrowing books are Little Free Libraries – there’s a map on the website. If you don’t live near one, and want to start one, the website has lots of advice. (And if you’re worried about virus transmission, you can just quarantine the books in a bag for a day or so before reading them – many libraries do that.)
You can always do it informally too – swop books amongst friends and neighbours – and get some good conversations and recommendations out of it as well – socially distanced of course!