Library Hunt

Many of you likely have childhood memories of heading to the library to peruse the card file on a topic of interest, write down some call numbers, and then head in to pull a stack of items from the shelves.

These days, though, I request books of interest from my library online.  When I arrive, they are waiting on a shelf near the checkout machines.  I realized that my kids know how to look up books on the online library app, but have no idea on how to locate items of interest for themselves!  So, this library hunt was born 🙂


Before You Begin

This will require a bit of advance preparation by you for younger kids, as you’ll need to select the books you want your children to locate at the library.  You can do this online if the information is available – look for books that are available at your local branch.  If not, you’ll need to do a walk through and write down the book information on your selected titles before you begin the hunt.  Older kids can be given a topic and can locate books to pull in the catalog on their own.

New York City Public Library

Before you begin, give your hunters a quick tour of the library.  Here’s what I covered in my tour:

  • The location of the various sections in the library -mine includes adults, young adults, and juniors (i.e. kids).
  • The location of the computer to look up call numbers of books.
  • Introduction to a friendly librarian.


How To Locate Books

Fiction (stories) and non-fiction (factual) books are separated in the sections, and are ordered differently.:

  • Non-fiction books are filed by numbers in numeric order. The numbers used to file non-fiction books are from the Dewey Decimal system, and this means:
    • Similar books will be filed using the same number at another library.
    • Books on related topics will be grouped near a particular book.
    • Example non-fiction book call information: “3D Game Programming for Teens” by Eric Grebler  YA 794.8152 GRE 2006  (The “YA” signifies that the book is in the young adults’ section)
  • Fiction books are filed by the author’s last name in alphabetical order. This means that other books by the same author will be grouped near a particular book.
    • Example fiction book call information: “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller  FICTION HEL 1999


The Library Hunt

At last – it’s time for the hunt!

Younger kids:  Give the younger kids information on books they should go and find.  I’ve included a link to a form at the end of this post you can use to write down the information for them. Very young kids will of course need an escort.  I’d suggest one fiction and one non-fiction book from the kids’ section for the PK – 1st crowd, and one of each from both the kids and adults section for kids 1st through 3rd or so.
Library Hunt Booklist

For older kids, I’d suggest giving them a topic and having them locate appropriate books in the catalog (card or computer based) that they then go and locate.    They can use a blank form to write down the information they need to locate the book.

Library Hunt Checklist

In addition to books, you may want to have them locate some other things as well, such as:

  • Audio books
  • DVDs
  • Magazines
  • Books in Spanish, or other languages
  • Encyclopedia Brittanica, or a similar reference series
  • Water fountain
  • Bathroom

Here are some checklists you can use:  a Library Hunt Booklist for the younger kids – just fill in books for each to locate, and then tear the sections apart – and a Library Hunt Checklist for older kids.