Library Background Information for Teachers and Parents

Grade Levels: K-3

This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about research, borrowing and librarians and libraries.  The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie Library. It explains the type of content covered in the movie, provides ideas for how teachers and parents can develop related understandings, and suggests how other BrainPOP Jr. resources can be used to scaffold and extend student learning.

Most children know that a library is a place that has books, magazines, newspapers, reference books, and other materials that people can borrow. A library can hold hundreds of different materials, so your children should learn how to find what they need. Your children should understand that the library is organized by the Dewey Decimal System, and they should know how to use a card catalog to find their materials. Your children should also understand how to check out and return books and understand appropriate library behavior.

A library not only has books, but it also has magazines, newspapers, and reference books. Remind your children that a reference book is a book that lists facts, definitions, and other information that people can look up. Dictionaries, thesauruses, and encyclopedias are all kinds of reference books. Some libraries also have movies and music, and offer computers, printers, and Internet access for their users.

Library patrons can use a card catalog to find a book or other material. Your children should know how to look up materials in a card catalog in their local and school libraries. Remind your children that the card catalog is an index of every book the library has and it is organized by subject or by the author’s last name. Some libraries have physical card catalogs while others have their card catalogs online. A card catalog entry identifies the title, author, publisher, page count, and subject of the material. It also shows the call number for the material.

The library organizes its materials according to the Dewey Decimal System, which classifies things by type of material (such as book, DVD, or CD), subject, and author. Explain to your children that each book is assigned a call number through the Dewey Decimal System, and the call number helps people find the book in a library. Aisles in a library are organized by number ranges and most materials are organized sequentially by their call number. People can look for the number range their material falls in and then find it on the shelves. Many children have difficulty understanding how to read the call number, so remind your students to look at the numbers before the decimal to help them know where to begin. Librarians, or people in charge of organizing, managing, and procuring new materials for a library, can help people find what they need and help patrons explore other sources to get information about their topics.

Your children should always check out and return library materials. This helps the library keep track of its materials. Online catalogs can let other patrons know that the material is currently being used by someone else. Remind your children that many people share the materials in a library so it’s important to check out materials and return them in a timely manner. Checking in books is important because it lets the library know the material has returned safely and is available to other patrons. Books can be renewed, which means the due date is extended. However, people who have overdue books, or books that are not returned by the due date, may have to pay a fine.

Your children should understand how to behave appropriately in a library. Libraries are a place for people to study or read, so noise and talking should be kept to a minimum. Music, if allowed, should only be listened to on headphones at a low volume. Many libraries prohibit food and drink in order to preserve their materials. Remind your children that everything in a library is shared by many people so it’s important to treat the library and all of its materials with respect. Developing good library skills at an early age will empower your children to explore and take advantage of the many resources libraries have to offer. In addition, we recommend watching the Choosing A Book  movie together upon visiting a library.