Living in a part of the world with a staggering cost of living index has involves keeping eyes wide open for resources that allow for a meaningful quality of life.
To say that the library system has played a role in the life of our family would be an understatement. The opportunities it has provided remain at the top of the list. I couldn't be more grateful.
Books: The most obvious. In my past life as a person who could drop excessive amounts of money on a topic of interest at Borders (RIP), I find much of what I want right at the library. (And, when I don't, there's always the Live-brary, the online catalog that covers all of Suffolk Country). You can even check out magazines, audio books, and e-books. (Added bonus: When you check out books from our library in particular, it states on the receipt approximately how much money you've saved by borrowing).
Programs & The Children's Department: Whether you are 2, 12, 42, or 82, there is something for you. Library branches run a host of events, activities and classes throughout the week. The classes for the littlest ones are "mommy and me" style. The structured, age-appropriate activities amidst socialization guided by grown-ups makes for a remarkable "parallel play" opportunity for toddlers. Lots of great manners and conversation-building skills are developed while learning new things. The Children's Department librarians we have encountered have been creative, caring, engaging people who model a real love for literacy and learning. It is rare for us to go more than a couple of days without having something special coming up at one of our local branches, and sometimes, it can work out to be two or three classes in a single day. These are heaven sent on rainy and/or chilly days, especially when preceded or followed by a trip to the Children's Department, to play with puzzles and toys, read books, or even do a scavenger hunt.
Museum Passes: Want to visit a local museum for free? We've enjoyed seeing the Nassau County Museum of Art, Parrish Art Museum, Cradle of Aviation, Heckscher Museum, Maritime Explorium, and the Long Island Children's Museum. Different libraries offer different museum passes.
Strategies/Caveats: Depending on your branch and how popular the classes and museum passes are, it may be like a "mini Cyber Monday" when registration time opens. Get to know the dates, deadlines and popularity of what your library offers. At our local branches, some things fill up within minutes. I check out the classes I want to register for in advance and then put the registration dates and times on my calendar. When the registration window opens, I am quick to the draw. School breaks are a popular time to reserve museum passes, so plan accordingly.
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