Back to school with Executive Director Nate Coulter

Recently I dropped in on an event where CALS Library staff handed out new backpacks and school supplies to young students who were anticipating their new school year. Back to school is really where the Library shines; in the classrooms, sharp pencils and fresh notebooks meet to record nuggets of knowledge. And here in our branches, we await the tidal wave of students after the final bell rings.

Our teen and children’s areas fill up after school. Students come to partake in the snacks and meals provided by Be Mighty, do homework with our resources, or just hang out with friends away from their school desks. But CALS is limited in what we are able to accommodate when it comes to unaccompanied children. I take this moment to remind parents of the CALS Library rules. Many of our branches are adjacent to a school, sometimes serving as that school’s library, making the students familiar with our facilities and our staff. This level of comfort creates an atmosphere where kids can learn independence and improve their social skills. But it is important to remember that libraries are a shared space, drawing young people and adults who sometimes have differing concepts of what a library atmosphere should be. We try to remind everyone that one patron’s enjoyment of this shared space should not interfere with another’s.

While we love having children here, we ask that both children and caregivers follow our rules. Any children aged 10 and under must be supervised by a caregiver over the age of 16 (you can read the full safe child procedure here). The Rules of Conduct apply to all patrons, as well as the fact that the Library is not licensed or equipped, nor is it the Library’s role, to provide long- or short-term child care. If you have students who will be visiting our branches this school year, please help us remind them that we want them to have fun and respect other library users’ reasonable expectations.

Our after-school programming varies from branch to branch, determined by the youth programmers at each location. They offer a variety of activities—some educationally focused, while others are just fun ways to pass the time until they can go home. And our popular grab & go activity bags help the fun and learning continue at home.

CALS has many resources available for kids, including Count UP, which offers free one-on-one math tutoring (in person or virtually). If parents run into a snag helping with homework and don’t have Count UP already scheduled, we also offer on-demand tutoring with Brainfuse HelpNow. And, of course, we have our vast collection of books on any topic a child might need for a school project or paper. The love of books and libraries begins at an early age, and we appreciate the opportunities a new school year brings to foster that in every way we can.