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New Orleans Public Libraries Have So Much More To Offer Than Just Books! (Resources Inside)

Like many families, we have read many books to our children over the years. When our kids began growing out of most of them, I found myself donating a huge box of baby books that had been collected all over the house. It dawned on me that, moving forward, borrowing books would be the best way to expose my kids to more authors, topics, and stories. It also allows for the experience of discovering books in their local library while helping to keep the book clutter more controlled at home.

Now, we are regular visitors to the Nix Library, our closest New Orleans Public Library, located on Carrollton Avenue in the Riverbend area. With the pleasant weather of spring, we look forward to visiting Latter Library branch by streetcar as a part of a fun day trip, including a stop at Audubon Park.

As library card holders, we find the ease of borrowing books relaxing and gratifying. It is a great opportunity to teach about quiet indoor environments and honor other visitors’ need for concentration. Cards are free to all Orleans Parish residents, as well as those who currently have a valid library card from Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes. My kids are now comfortable directly asking their familiar librarians about books they are interested in and where to find them. But some of the best, more unknown, things about what our libraries have to offer are better known as “Library Lagniappe"; including, everything from free menstrual products and heirloom seeds to cake pan and tool rentals.

Independently discovering books is a great way to expose children to new topics and stories. Photo by Michelle Harmon.

Perhaps one of the most exciting benefits is the Culture Pass Program. Library cardholders can gain free admission to some of the city’s best museums and institutions, including The New Orleans Museum of Art, The Ogden Museum, The Audubon Zoo and Aquarium to name a few. Simply reserve the day you would like to attend in advance. Number of entrants vary depending on the location, see link below for details.

Another amazing resource for local women and girls is access to free menstrual supplies. In the US, menstrual products are not covered by food stamps or federally funded health programs like WIC and SNAP. Regardless, access to period products affects everyone who menstruates, regardless of socioeconomic status. So being provided with a month of free supplies reduces the stress and anxiety which can lead to school or work absences, according to American Libraries Magazine.

Events offered by the NOPL have something for everyone, kids and adults alike. Storytime and crafting activities for young children are offered at many locations. Recently, my kids checked out the LEGO Challenge Club where they had the opportunity to sit and build LEGO Robots with other visitors. It was a nice way to switch up their activity in a space that they have grown to be comfortable in.

New Orleans Public Libraries have many different events for children and adults alike. Photo by Michelle Harmon.

For adults, there are employment and training services, resume building, tax and legal assistance, notary public services, movement classes including yoga and hip hop cardio and so much more. New Orleans libraries also hosts concerts, shows and other performances and community events. For a city with such a diverse array of residents across every spectrum, it is wonderful to know that the libraries are a safe, inclusive and beneficial resource for everyone. I encourage all families to take advantage!

Here are links to some helpful resources offered by NOPL for current cardholders:

Weekly and Monthly Schedule of Upcoming Events.

Reserve a day of FREE ADMISSION at one of New Orleans finest cultural institutions.

Access to a rich collection of reference and circulating non-fiction materials related to digital, financial, and health literacy and Black culture, including a monthly Book Club.

Pick up free period supplies provided by the Junior League of New Orleans at Rosa F. Keller Library & Community Center.

Borrow a Samsung A7 Lite tablet. Comes with an unlimited data plan from T-Mobile for up to 6 months. They can also be used as a Mobile Hotspot, serving as a Wi-Fi access point for up to 10 other devices.

Updated recommendations for early literacy through teenagers.

Borrow e-books, e-audiobooks, movies, music and more.

Grow your garden for free with the seed libraries which are open to all, including non-cardholders.

The CleanUp NOLA Tool Library is designed to clean catch basins in your neighborhood. Some of the tools available for checkout include shovels, rakes, gloves, and wheelbarrows.

A cute collection of cake pans are available to use for your creative baking needs.


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