No check-out is needed for library’s board books

All branches of the North Olympic Library System now have children’s board books that are available for patrons to read and return without having to check them out.

The new “Read and Return” borrowing approach to books for the very young is aimed at encouraging families to use the library and to feel comfortable about allowing young children to explore books in the tactile ways that are natural to babies and toddlers.

Research has shown that an early introduction to books promotes early reading skills and encourages a lifelong love of reading but parental concerns about overdue fines, book loss or damage can be a barrier to young families using the library. Read and Return collections are one popular method libraries use to surmount these obstacles to early childhood exposure to reading.

“Board books are made of a heavy cardboard and are designed with babies and toddlers in mind,” said youth services librarian Jennifer Knight. “A child’s first instinct when discovering a book is to play with it — which quite often means putting it in their mouth or banging it on the floor. A ‘read and return’ approach allows parents to feel more comfortable about letting children experience these first books in the ways that young children should,” Knight said.

“Library board books need to be refreshed on a regular basis, so the more casual ‘read and return’ approach is a perfect way to manage this collection.”

Seed money for the new collection was provided through a multi-agency collaborative Culture of Literacy Grant from Thrive by Five.

Other partner organizations include the Clallam County Literacy Council, Parent Matters and Americorps. The grant also funded a dialogic reading project throughout the county, as well as a book basket program.
The Read and Return board book program is being introduced on a trial basis, with small collections available at each branch of the North Olympic Library System. If the pilot program is successful, library system officials will continue the program.

The Read and Return program is only part of the North Olympic Library’s ongoing programming for babies and children. Baby story times are a good way to introduce babies and parents to new rhymes, songs and stories. For more information, visit



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