The Ottawa Public Library: The Ruth E. Dickinson Branch

by Shawna For those of you that use it, this will be a “no duh” kind of post, but for those of you who haven’t discovered it yet, your library is waiting for you! The Ottawa Public Library is a fantastic resource for parents, no matter what age your kids are!

Almost every Thursday I take my 4 year old daughter to Evening Story Time at our local branch, Ruth E. Dickinson (and pretty soon my son will be old enough to push back his bedtime to allow him to go too).  There, starting at 6:30, they read story books to groups of youngsters - half of which are usually in their adorable pyjamas - for half an hour, and when that's done they do a craft.

The library has regular events for all ages, including Babytime for the youngest set, on up to Homework Club for older kids.  Sprinkled into this mix are special and themed events, as well as some regular features such as conversation groups for various different languages.

Even if there's nothing scheduled, the library is a great place to go on a rainy or cold day to get out of the house and pick through the bins and shelves of brightly-coloured books for some free entertainment for you and your kids. They even have DVDs, and you can reserve most material.

I often like to log on from the comfort of my home computer and browse through the kid movies and books (and maybe some grown-up ones too) and add the ones that pique my interest to my "hold" list.  When it comes in I get an email letting me know that I've got a week to pick it up (which I do when we go to Storytime).  How easy is that?  I can even do this to secure passes to the museums of Nature, Science and Technology, and Civilization, though the waiting list for them is hugely long, so you have to be patient.  And as soon as I've used one of the passes and returned it, I go right back onto that list.

The best part of all this?  It's free!  Free!  Free!  I am always amazed to arrive at Storytime and not find every kid in Barrhaven there!

Shawna is mom to 4 year old Sage and almost-2-year-old Harris.  She has  been writing online since 2003, and her latest project is a fledgling photography blog.  Like many parents, she has a computer stuffed with thousands of pics of her kids.