I got so many great suggestions for Help Me Help You that I couldn't let them languish in the comments. So, wrapping up this feature, I have suggestions from librarians throughout the interwebs. (And I apologize for this taking so very long... life just got crazy for a little bit!)
Help Me Help You: What ELSE Librarians Want You to Know About the Library
There are age restrictions on programs for a reason. Planning programs is a lot of work. Implementing programs takes knowledge and a lot of energy. Programs get exponentially harder when the kids attending do not have the necessary fine motor skills or attention spans for the activities planned. The age restriction also might be for the simple reason that many fifth graders won't want to come to a program with first graders. If a program is listed for kids in 3rd-5th grade, please respect our rules and don't try to sign up your first-grade child.
You can request that we buy materials. We do our best to anticipate and fulfill the needs of our patrons, but sometimes things fall through the cracks. We overlook a book or a movie or a CD. Let us know! We can't buy everything, but we'll certainly do our best and it never hurts to ask.
Spaces designated for children and teens are just that. If you want to use the computers, tables, or study areas, we'd appreciate it if you'd use them in the adult areas, especially during after-school, weekend, and summer hours. We create special areas for teens and kids so that they will want to hang out and use those areas. While adults are certainly welcome to use the collections, teens and kids need their own space.
Parents/cargeivers, we want you to participate in storytime!! Your kids will get so much more out of storytime if you're doing the songs and rhymes along with us. Get up and dance! And when we're reading books, model good listening behavior. Your kids will emulate you (and you just might enjoy the stories). How can you expect your kids to be engaged in storytime if you're not engaged?
Some topics might not have a book written about them. And, on a related note, some topics might not have any internet info on them. Someone has to write books, articles, and web pages, you know. We try our best to find whatever information you are looking for, but sometimes it just doesn't exist. There are some other things to try, though, if you're looking for a topic that doesn't have any books written about it. Maybe there's a broader book that would contain some information about your specific topic (ex. a book about fish that might have a chapter or an entry on the humuhumunukunukuapua'a). Maybe there's a magazine article in an electronic database or a reliable website. And don't forget the trusty encyclopedia!
We may be able to request a book from another library. If you don't see the book you want, ask us about it. We might be able to get it from another branch or through interlibrary loan. This could take a couple of days or weeks, so planning ahead is your friend!
It is not our job to police your child's internet use. Some libraries may have filters on the children's computers, but if you're really concerned about what your child is accessing on the computer, you need to be there to oversee it. Likewise with what books your child is checking out. My job is to find the books and information I am asked for; it is not to decide what's appropriate reading/viewing material for each child. And what one parent considers acceptable might be objectionable to another child.
And that wraps up my Help Me Help You feature. Thanks, everyone, for your comments! I hope these posts have been helpful (as well as giving librarians a place to vent a little bit and know that we've all experienced similar frustrations!). If you have any more suggestions, feel free to add them in the comments.
Thanks for reading and be sure and check out the other parts:
Part 1: Research and Reference
Part 2: Storytime
Part 3: Library Logistics
Part 4: What Librarians Wish Teachers Knew About the Library