At our library system, we do not have age restrictions for our regular story times and do not require registration for these types of programs. While we communicate that story times are geared for a specific age range, we welcome everyone, thus allowing those parents with children of multiple ages to attend. With no registration required for our story times, this encourages our parents to drop by when it is most convenient for them.
We have also introduced laptops that customers may use within the library. The adults frequently use these computers while in the children’s department. This allows them to get the work they need to do accomplished as well as the chance to spend that time with their child. Thirdly, we have also trained staff on the rights of those who choose to nurse in public. By ensuring staff are trained on how to respect these customers’ choice, we minimize the chance patrons will feel uncomfortable caring for their child in the library.
Becoming a support to parents does not need to be at the expense of your other customers, your time, or your staff. Simple ways in which we approach caregivers can have a tremendous impact. The suggestions above may not be the best choice for your community, but you may have developed another procedure or policy to support those parents you serve.
As a parent to a young child, I know I will continue to gravitate toward activities and places that are the most welcoming for my daughter and me to share together. Our library system is at the top of those destinations on my list. How do you provide an encouraging place for caregivers in your community? What have you most enjoyed about experiencing the library from the patron’s perspective, as a parent, a caregiver, or a grandparent? Please share in the comments below!