Making your child library savvy


library savvy

The library is a wonderful yet sometimes underused resource.  Here’s everything your child needs to know about using the library. (And you might learn something too!).

more than books

When we think library, books automatically spring to mind. Yet your local library is more than just the place to borrow books.
You can also borrow:

Comics, graphic novels, kids’ puzzles, magazines, music CDs, DVDs, audio books and e-books.

What else can you do at the library? You can research information for school projects, read daily newspapers from all over the country, access the internet, play educational computer games and attend fun events.

your friendly librarian

The most important thing to remember about being library-savvy is that you don’t need to know anything: simply go to the library and the librarian will be able to help you with everything, from joining the library to finding the right books for you.

joining the library

If you’re under 18, you will need your parent or guardian with you when you go into the library to fill in the membership form. Ask them to bring proof of their identity, as well as proof of residential address. Once that’s out of the way, you’ll be able to get your library card and make full use of their services, and you won’t need the adult to accompany you when you borrow books.

borrowing stuff

These are the steps you take when you borrow an item from the library:

  1. Make sure you have your library card.
  2. Find the item you want.
  3. Take it to the checkout counter. There may be a person to help you, or you can use a self-checkout machine.
  4. Find out on what date the item is due back at the library and make a note of that date in your diary. You will also receive a printout of the books you’ve borrowed and their return due date.
  5. Take the item home and enjoy it.
  6. Bring it back before the due date. If you’re not finished with it, you may be able to renew it, either in person or online.
  7. If you don’t give back your borrowed items in time, you may be charged a fine. Currently that’s the case in the Wellington and the Hutt libraries, while Auckland and Christchurch libraries do not charge for overdue children’s books. However, it’s best to return the items on time, as there may be other people waiting for them.
  8. Some items, especially video disks, may have a borrowing fee. There is never a fee for children’s books.

reserving a book

Sometimes you might like to go into the library and simply browse the shelves in search of a new author or a new topic that sparks your interest.

At other times, though, you may have a specific book in mind. The library puts its books in groups so that readers can find them more easily. All the children’s titles are together, and they are split up into fiction and non-fiction titles, so it’s easy to find them. The problem is, popular books are usually out, and you need to get onto the waiting list to make sure they find their way to you. This is called reserving a book, and you can do it at the library (ask the librarian to help you) or online.

visiting the library online

It’s amazing what you can do online: browse the library’s catalogue, reserve items, ask the library to purchase a book that it doesn’t have, renew your books when they are near their due-to-be-returned date (due date). For school projects, you will also have automatic access to their digital resources including Encyclopaedia Britannica and Discovering Collection. All you need is your library card and your secret PIN, which you select when you get the card or when you first log into the library’s website. (Choose a PIN you can remember but one that’s not easy for someone else to guess, so avoid using your birthday or birth year.)

What’s great about browsing the library’s catalogue online is that you can do more than just search for the author’s name or for a particular title: you can also search by category or keyword. For example, to find fiction books set in a boarding school, simply type in the keywords “boarding school, juvenile”, to bring up all the lovely Naughtiest Girl and Harry Potter titles.

the library rocks!

  • It’s free.
  • It’s fun.
  • The information is more solid than what you find online.
  • The library offers resources not available on the internet.

Your school most likely also has a library. Try it!

libraries online

  • Auckland:
  • Wellington:
  • Hutt City:
  • Upper Hutt:
  • Christchurch:

the dewey system

New Zealand school libraries and most public libraries use the Dewey Classification system to organise their books. This classification system is useful when you physically go looking for a specific book on the shelves. Every book at the library has a number that tells you where the book lives. It’s a bit like the book’s address.

The first line of the number usually has a letter on it, which tells you what section of the Library it lives in.
For example:

  • JF = Juvenile Fiction
  • JB = Juvenile Biography
  • E = Easy
  • YA = Young Adult non-fiction
  • YAF = Young Adult fiction

The second line tells you its classification in more detail.

Fiction books will display the first three letters of the author’s surname, for example, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter will sit under YAF ROW. The books are arranged alphabetically.

Nonfiction books will have a 3-digit number that corresponds to its subject matter. The library will have signs which tell you what each number means, so there’s no need to memorise it. Just as an example, though, you’ll find science topics will have a number somewhere in the 500s, technology in the 600s, and the arts in the 700s.

the any questions service

  • Any questions? If you’d like help with your homework, you can ask a real librarian to help you – online! Simply go to AnyQuestions on between 1pm and 6pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Outside those hours, you can visit 24 hours a day to find answers to questions commonly asked on AnyQuestions.
  • This is a free service provided by a skilled librarian.

the library can come to you

  • Auckland, Upper Hutt and Christchurch Libraries have Mobile Library buses bringing books and multimedia resources to those who find it difficult to visit to their local library.
  • Wellington City and Hutt City libraries offer home deliveries of borrowed items.

By Teri Douglas

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