The greatest barriers to family use of the library are worries about children being noisy and concerns over damaging the books.
Many families are unaware of the exciting range of facilities and activities on offer.
Staff have a crucial role to play in encouraging families into the library and ensuring that they receive a warm welcome once inside.
With the advent of self service, it is more important than ever for staff to engage with families and promote the facilities on offer.
Make your library family-friendly!
Make library staff aware
Each library service point should have a Bookstart information folder containing everything staff need to know about Bookstart so that they can answer any question that may arise – or know who to contact to obtain the answer.
Staff should offer a warm welcome to families coming into the library. First impressions are very important. Just by making some friendly comment as soon as an adult enters the library with a baby or toddler, will help them to feel comfortable and more at ease. For example, offer to show them where to park the buggy; or say, ‘If there’s anything you want, just ask’.
- Talk to the baby or toddler, ask his/her name and say: ‘Have you come to pick some books today?’
- On a first visit, offer to show them the Children’s Library and point out the board and picture books and toys
- Ask if the baby/toddler has their own library card
- If possible, give them a flier with library opening times and details of any Rhymetimes and story times
- Explain about library fines and charges, including the damage policy
- Invite them to take part in the Bookstart Book Crawl
- Show them the notice board with information for families and details of any events
- Tell them that libraries aren’t quiet anymore and it’s fine for babies and toddlers to make a noise!
Equipment and use of space
The Bookstart logo will be familiar to parents so take advantage of this brand awareness and make use of the free Bookstart publicity materials to welcome families into the library.
If you have baby changing facilities, place notices about them in a prominent position, so that families are aware of their availability.
Provide a suitable space for mothers to feed their babies. If your library has a breast-feeding friendly award, ensure that you display a notice to this effect.
Have a Bookstart Bear or empathy doll in the library to use as a symbol of Bookstart and to join in with the story and rhymetimes. This helps to get everyone’s attention when you start a session and it can be used to demonstrate the actions in songs and rhymes.
Have a safe buggy parking area.
Provide parenting magazines and guidance books.
Hold regular Health and Safety checks and carry out risk assessments for all your activities and events.
Use notice boards to display details of regular and special events, such as:
- Bedtime Reading Events. ‘Come to a storytime wearing your PJs. Bring your teddy and a blanket’.
- Bookstart Bear’s Birthday Party
- Bookstart Book Crawl certificate presentations
- National Bookstart Week
- Early Years Awards shadowing
- National Family Week
- Put up publicity photos and cuttings from past events (Remember to get written permission from parents).
Find out more
Free posters are available from Book Trust to promote Bookstart and some of the special Bookstart events.