More than Books

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I spend a lot of time through this weekly blog promoting reading, writing and picture books for kids, which means that digital libraries like ours, online at, are a common referent of mine. Our mostly nonfiction books for beginning readers books are designed to be used by children, families, schools and various educational projects. They are filled with information and ideas that enrich kids’ thinking and background knowledge about the world. Our goal is simply to help all readers learn to love books and reading. 

An old friend of mine who spent decades directing the local University of Louisville Archives & Special Collections recently reminded me that archives, like history museums, art galleries and even zoos, are fabulous places for families to access and learn from treasured materials. Families and teachers can access or borrow (mostly for free) many resources to enjoy, even at home or in the classroom, just like library books.

Unlike most library books that can be replaced if they are damaged or lost, the offerings of these other institutions are built around their uniquely fascinating and powerful collections of items that, if damaged or lost, cannot be replaced. Yet individuals and educators can make special arrangements to access and study many of those one-of-a-kind powerful learning tools. Each intriguing item can do for learners what books do–provide exciting ideas about which children might want to read and reflect and go deeper.

It also is important to remember that libraries aren’t just about books. Patrons can use and borrow all kinds of cool things from libraries, like framed fine art work, plantable seeds, power tools, a green screen for recording videos with a unique background, DVDs, a therapy dog to pet and enjoy, and even fishing gear.

I encourage you to explore your local libraries, archives, museums and other cultural institutions to discover all the rich resources available for public use. You may be delightfully surprised at what you find.

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