For the past several weeks, I have been offering a program called Baby Social Hour. It’s an informal 45-minutes or so where children under three and their adult care givers can come to the library and, well, socialize. People send their children to preschool in part to build social skills. The same thing happens at library programs. Libraries create an environment for connection, something that is important at any age (especially after an isolating pandemic) and vital for brand-new humans. 

The structure of the program is simple. We begin with a name game so that we can all get to know each other, and then we read a short book. After that, songs are sung, bounces bounced, and fingerplays are learned and practiced. The real highlight of the program? When the toys come out. It’s lovely to witness friendships being formed and small humans suddenly realizing that they are more than themselves. Baby social hour is just one of the ways that children’s services help build community and enhance the social emotional development of children. We also offer a variety of resources for parents and adults interested in learning more about parenting and child development. 

Most of these resources are housed in the 649.1 section of the Dewey Decimal system. There you’ll find a full range of books from teaching your child responsibility, raising mindful children, to books that refer to themselves as “parenting tool kits.” And while books are helpful and great resources for parenting in general, nothing can really prepare you for the ENORMOUS responsibility of raising another human life. It is also true that while the books, resources, and the services JCLS provide are important, it is my opinion that one of the library’s superpowers is that we offer opportunities to grow and enhance community. This, in turn, offers an avenue of support and companionship to parents and caregivers, many of whom have been yearning for an opportunity to be with other adults, a reason to get out of the house, and a way to not feel so alone. Just to make it perfectly clear, this superpower is not just limited to the children’s department—it extends to all aspects of library services.  

This again underscores for me that all the programs that libraries offer from preschool to elementary, teen to adult, are a chance for the community to come together to learn, have fun, or just simply relax; and for an hour or two, to get a break from the stresses and worries of everyday life. We all need opportunities to expand our world and experience our community. As a person who creates, plans, and presents many of these programs, I feel so fortunate and grateful to share in this community with others.