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  • Local Services

On Rainy Days, There’s Nothing Like a Good Book

Which is why one of our favourite rainy day activities is to visit the local library! The libraries in our region are in Toormina, Coffs Harbour and Woolgoolga.

I always park just up from the Toormina Library on Minorie Drive, as my toddler goes into a trance-like state upon seeing the children playing at the nearby pre-school.

“Hold the umbrella and stand here next to the fence while I get the library books out of the car,” I order her, and she dutifully obeys, staring wide-eyed at the ‘big kids’ (tantrum saving trip number 1).

We walk down the path and in the doors, where we go straight to the counter and return last week’s books and CDs. Sometimes I make Miss 2 say goodbye to a book or CD if she was particularly attached to it, so she knows it’s no longer at home (tantrum saving tip number 2).

Next I check the shelf to see if any of the reservations I made online have been delivered by the library fairies. I do my book browsing online a few nights earlier in the week, so I don’t have to try and do it at the actual library with a kid in tow. By the time I’ve found my name and grabbed my books, Miss 2 has spotted the children’s area and decided not to stick close anymore.

She enters the children’s wonderland, and I am close behind.

Miss 2 runs over to the library’s three giant, well-loved teddies. She says hello to each of them and hugs them (note – I go early in the day so they won’t have cold and flu germs on them from the day’s visitors). The teddies are set up in interesting and quirky positions, courtesy of the library fairies once again, and they often look like they’re busy reading a new favourite book or building with blocks.

In the middle of the children’s area is a bright, colourful rug which my daughter likes to play with – counting the butterflies, following the colourful steps, etc. Nearby, there is a big table with blocks in the middle that the children can play with. There are fun chairs for the kids to climb on – shaped like elephants and horses/dogs (the vote’s still open on what exactly they are), and beanbags too.

There are plastic trays with board books for babies to pull out and distribute across the room (let’s be honest here), and then there is a great big row of box shelves that older babies can pull themselves up on and hold onto for support. These also have board books, books and music CDs for toddlers and older children.

Down the end of the room, there are DVDs and audio books. If your kid likes to pull DVDs out of cases, avoid this shelf (tantrum saving tip number 3). Also, there is currently a shelf with young-adult books kind of acting like a fence to separate the children’s sections from other sections – embrace this and stick to the boundaries.

On the other side is the magazine rack, which is one of the places most likely to cause problems and the results tantrums – as experienced by me and more than one of my friends with young toddlers. (They often change the layout of the area to keep it interesting, so suss out where the must-avoid spots are as soon as you arrive.)

There are comfy chairs and tables for parents to sit on too, but to be honest I’ve never seen a parent who doesn’t end up sitting on the ground with their kid. It’s such a colourful, inviting area, you can’t help but want to sit down and join in.

On Thursdays, at Toormina Library they do Storytime (more info below). This is a fantastic activity, particularly for older toddlers to pre-school aged kids. The library staff sing songs, read two books, and sometimes even dance with the kids. Afterwards, they do a craft activity related to one of the books, with all materials provided. This whole event is free!

If you are there early, sometimes the library staff will bring out a big box full of Australian animal toys and puppets. These are hidden away again before the full crowd arrives. The staff are incredibly friendly and the kids love them. Storytime is what got us visiting the library in the first place, and also made me realise just how extremely welcome our children are in our local libraries.

The library staff really go to a lot of effort to make the children’s area special and enchanting, and they don’t mind a bit of noise. In fact, during Storytime, they make the most noise of all! Also, the books for adults and the study computers are as far away as possible from the children’s area, so you don’t need to spend the whole time telling your kids to “be quiet!”.

If your kid gets sick of looking at books, playing with blocks, climbing on chairs and beanbags, the last resort option for getting them under control is the library’s local lizard friend. Through the window looking towards the shopping centre, there is often a big lizard sitting on a log. We often try to spot him and say “hello” and “goodbye”. I’m not sure my 2-year-old sees him camouflaged in there, but she has a good enough imagination to play along anyway.

If you need it by now, there are toilets available.

Before we go, we tidy up the room after ourselves, so the next children to come in can have the same magical experience we always do. Then, we go and use the self-service borrowing machine. This usually is prime tantrum time. My kid needs to be involved in this process if you know what I mean.

I generally borrow all the books (hint: you can place them all on the table at the same time, you don’t have to scan them one-by-one like at the grocery store) and ask her to hold the library bag, or the card after I’ve scanned it, or if I’m desperate, she gets a brochure for whatever the library is promoting that week. There are always a few handy.

Our library is one of our favourite places to visit in town. While it’s a good rainy day activity, I have to admit, we definitely go there far more regularly than just when the rain comes to town.

Official Information:

For locations and contact details for the Coffs Harbour, Toormina and Woolgoolga Libraries: http://libraries.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/About-Us/Pages/Location-and-Hours.aspx

Storytime Schedule: http://libraries.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/youngpeople/Pages/Storytime.aspx

Ten Minutes a Day – this is another free activity the library runs for parents and babies under the age of 2. http://libraries.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/youngpeople/Pages/tmad.aspx

It is free to join your local library, just take your driver’s license (to prove you’re a local resident) and fill out the form at the front desk.

You can borrow up to 30 items at a time, for a period of four weeks (for most books)