How to Ruin a Trip to the Library in 5 Easy Steps

Yeah, I thought I’d be the *fun* mom and take my kids to the library the first week school was out.  We were gonna slay that summer reading program.  And then we didn’t.  Twenty minutes after arriving at the library we left with five crying kids, a near ER visit, a scolding, zero books and a very exhasperated momma.  This is good, keep reading.

It was a really pretty Tuesday morning.  Not too hot, a light breeze and a decent night’s sleep for the Whitaker 5.  Winning.  We’d had a quick breakfast, everyone was showered and ready to go, so we loaded up the van and ventured to the nearest public library.  To be fair, it’s not my most favorite library, but the kids’ section is decent and we know how to find the books we want.  We were armed with everyone’s “wish list” and felt confident this would be a glorious morning.

The first way to ruin your library visit?  Allow your fourth child to scamper ahead and place her hands right on the sliding glass door.  Then, right behind her encourage child #2 to activate the automatic door, thus pinning child #4’s hands between the two glass panes.  Yeah, no awkward stares from all the other patrons there.  I was already calculating the drive time to the ER.  “Please don’t let them be stuck” I kept saying.  A firm pull and I freed my little chick, but not without a boatload of screaming and more staring.  Sigh.  Surely it can’t get worse, right?

The second way to ruin your library visit?  Walk up to the computer and just as you type in the first search criteria, pray the computer freezes, then locks down.  Oh, and don’t forget to encourage the baby of the family to just start pulling books off the shelves.  It’s so much more FUN that way.  Who needs to look them up, when one of your kids can just pull the whole lot to the middle of the room?

The third way to ruin your library visit?  Go stand in the very short, but ridiculously long wait time of a line to get someone to unfreeze the computer.  While you’re standing there, be sure your kids pull on the ropes that separate the lines of people.  You get bonus points if they knock them over and more people stare.

The fourth way to ruin your library visit?  Stand in that line for ten minutes, then walk back to that *awesome* computer only for it to be working when the library guy clicks the mouse.  You’ll feel SUPER smart.  By the time you figure out how to work it, you’ll spend ten minutes typing in all the books only to realize NONE of them are at this library.  They’re just a short 15 drive away to the other public library.

And, the fifth way to ruin your library visit?  Finally locate two books, head back to the line, wait ten more minutes and then – wait for it – the librarian will tell you that your card has expired.

That, my friends, is how to make memories with the kids.  We finally threw in the towel and got drinks at Sonic to drown our sorrows.  But, not without this gem from my oldest:  “Well, that was a crummy way to start the summer.”

Yup, yup.


  1. Kelley on June 25, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Lol! Love this post, because we have all definitely been there!! As a result, i love putting my books on hold, so that I can just dash in and pick them up! I was appalled when we first moved to P-ville, because they did not offer the online Hold option. Thankfully they updated it! Hope your next trip is more successful! 🙂

  2. Kathleen on June 25, 2012 at 11:25 am

    I kid you not that I was just about to head out to the library with my kids. Now I’m not so sure. I always get a bit nervous about going because of the whole “being quiet” thing. Once they are all over ten I might relax a bit, but even then it might be personality dependent on who is good there. Sorry about your experience, but know that you’ve made us smile because we can relate.

  3. Mike on June 25, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Absolutely belly laughed at your oldest’s comment. And have to share back… those ropes that separate people can be REALLY big problems. We once ruined a funeral when my oldest pulled one down and had the pole that held it up land on her head, leaving nasty head gash that got the funeral home staff running for ice and filling out injury reports. 🙂

    • Kathryn on June 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      Oh Mike. Speechless?

  4. Brandon Kraft on June 25, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Granted, my kiddos are way younger. 34 months and 16 months, but I’ve found the following very helpful for those with this age group.

    1. If there are any particular books you want, card catalog it at home, place a hold and just wait for the e-mail that they’re at your local branch (for APL at least).

    2. Go during “off times”. For us, during the school year, that meant before the older kids got out of school. There are schools (Pre-K through 8) in walking distance of the branch, which means plenty of kiddos come to the branch after class.

    3. Accept defeat. I had grand expectations of picking out great books that seem to make sense, at the right age, etc. I make a point to get one or two books that I think would be good. The rest (of the 10-12 that end up going home) are what the girls pick out. The older one mostly picks out books that the younger one “would like” while the younger one pulls out random books.

    I’ve got them to at least stick to the same section of books per trip, so we rotate which shelf we go to each time so, in theory, we get different books each time and eventually get through the entire children’s section.

    4. Stickers.
    Stickers are big. Our APL branch gives kids stickers at check out. My oldest will typically get in check if I suggest I may tell the librarian not to give her a sticker or not let her get a sticker to put on the younger one.

    5. Waste no time. I used to draw out the trip, but now, it’s bam… bam… bam. In and out within 15 minutes. With time (and training), I’m able to go the “long way” to the checkout down the biography aisle and grab a book for me, most of the time.

    6. Practice. We’ve made it a weekly ritual (it’s Friday! Library Day!”) and they’re much better now than when we started.

    Love you K. To everyone, don’t be too afraid to take your kids to the library. Just throw out any expectations 🙂

    • Kathryn on June 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      Those are great tips, Kraft. I should’ve probably mentioned that Scott took the kids and had zero problems. Sigh.

  5. Christy Songy on June 25, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Sorry to laugh at your pain, but this was hilarious. And so, so familiar. My kids love the library – and often express that love by running, shrieking and chest-bumping one another. Sigh.

  6. Lisa Schmidt on June 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Now that’s definitely what I call a “bug” day. Thanks for keeping it real and sharing it all here with your readers.

  7. Kimberly on June 25, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    Oh geez…y’all are scaring me. We’re going to start homeschooling this fall, so I anticipate more trips to the library. Right now, we rarely go becuse of the ropes, the self-check out where the kids all fight to scan their own books, and the elevator RIGHT BY the checkout lanes. Argh! My husband doesn’t have any problems when he takes the kids…no fair! Please pray for me okay? Thanks!

  8. Dianna Kennedy on June 25, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    Oh, Kimberly just added the icing to this cake …. 😉

    I’m sorry, but I did laugh my fool butt off at this post. Why? Because, fellow mother of five, this sounds like my insane crew.

    And, you can take some pride in the fact that at least when you come through the doors, the library staff isn’t whispering to themselves, “There they are again. The HOMESCHOOLED children. ” Those comments are reserved for my Kaboodle .. and it sounds like Kimberly is going to join me.

  9. Living a Perfect Catholic Life on July 16, 2012 at 8:54 am

    […] them to remember the highlight reel. I want them to see how much fun they had at Art Camp, how our library visit went all wrong and why the last day of school is the best day of the year. Shoot, I want to remember the highlight […]

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