Yeah, I said it. Your local library is straight fire, and I’m guessing it’s a place that you don’t visit quite often, but if you’re a regular there, kudos to you! If you haven’t seen your library card in years or ever owned one, you’re missing out on some of the best free resources on the planet!
Now I know what you’re thinking… the mention of the word library conjures up smelly things – or worse – memories of countless research papers, or thoughts of creatures that lurk in the dark. Maybe you just view the library as a place to get old raggedy books. Maybe you’re thinking the library in your area could literally go up in flames and no one would care (pointing you to the corner). All libraries may not have the same appeal or be as modernized as others, but most librarians and staff care about offering the best technology and resources possible. Maybe your small town library isn’t the Library of Congress, but it likely offers something that you can find value in.
In addition to the relatively unknown services that your library offers, which we’ll discuss in a moment, I have found the library to be an excellent parenting helper! If you have small children, the library can be a fun and resourceful place to allow them to unwind, which means a few less stressful minutes for you. Now that’s a Win-Win. Yes, I know the library is a quiet place, and calm is not in my kids’ vocabulary, but it’s the one place I can actually get my children to “play along” and act somewhat appropriately. So what is it that my children and I do when we visit the library anyway?
Since both of my children are currently learning to read, we spend most of our time in the children’s book section. There we can find books categorized by reading level and whatever else happens to be on display. My library is so awesome that they rotate books based on a theme and showcase them visibly, which my children usually love, so we never have to actually search for anything! After several minutes of browsing and reading, we venture over to the interactive computer. My children could spend hours sitting here with headphones on playing various educational games. After literally having to pry them away, we journey to the children’s DVD section. I allow them to pick a learning DVD of some sort or maybe a favorite cartoon to take home and off we go. Visiting the library is a regular activity that my children look forward to every week, and it’s a few minutes of meaningful time that I can spend interacting with them in their world, and hey, even I can find something to relate to from time to time.
Whether you have children or not, I bet you’ll discover something at your library that peaks your interest. Here are a few things you may find:
Did you know that your local library has a solid collection of media content? Maybe you already subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or some other streaming service, but if you’re trying to save money on entertainment, your library is a great place to start. Now that brick and mortar movie stores are mostly gone, renting a movie means visiting a RedBox or some other on-demand service. However, before resorting to these options, check out your library’s online catalog and view their collection of DVDs. You may be surprised at the variety available. If you’re looking for recent content, do a sort on publication date if possible to see the newest titles available. You may even find they have the complete series of that show you just never had time for. Maybe you’re looking for some other specific content. For example, I’ve recently been trying to get my golf game off life support. I was able to visit my library’s online site and reserve a few instructional DVDs, so I’m basically getting golf lessons for free! Now that’s swaggity swag right there!
Computer and Internet Services
Maybe your home is already like a mini Apple store operating on a blazing network. For those of you who have chosen to keep your sanity and your life simple, I envy you. If you don’t have all of the latest tech and gadgets at your disposal, don’t forget that your library offers computer and internet access, scanning, faxing, and copying for free or at a very low cost. If that doesn’t mean much to you now, it will later when you’re at the airport or staying in a hotel, and you’re paying a ridiculous fee to use wifi.
If you’re a totally awesome dad like me who has always wanted to have a movie night in the backyard, well guess what, the library may be able to help you do that. Your library may offer a projector and screen that you can borrow. In addition, you may find other devices that can be loaned out such as laptops with special software, eReaders, digital cameras, camcorders, and a sound system. So dads make it happen!
Education and Tutoring
If you’re looking for tutoring services for yourself or your children, your library may one of the best places in town to visit first. Check with the staff there and see if they are aware of any regular tutors or educational services that may be of help to you. For example, if you’re looking to learn another language or some other subject, the library may have classes or online resources to help you get started.
If you’re an avid gamer like myself, you know that gaming can be a relatively expensive hobby. If you’re the person who likes to attend release day events or get your game delivered to your mailbox on the release date, then the library won’t be able to do much for you. However, if you’re just looking for a title you’ve never played or browsing for your kids, see what your local library has to offer. You may even find learning games available for your children that you can checkout.
Events and Activities
When you hear of a library hosting an event, you probably think of pottery sculpting and quilt making, and if that floats your boat, by all means, do your thing yo! Libraries offer an assortment of gatherings and activities though including live music, fitness and art classes, movie nights, author readings, health screenings, training sessions, clubs and more. During the summer, my local library held a series of children’s events that included story telling, puppet shows, and a carnival. My kids had a blast! So find out what you’re local library is doing and get plugged in – or even better – volunteer for something if you can.
If you’re looking for a room to host an event or meeting, your library may be able to offer you a public space for free or at a discounted rate.
In addition to every thing else we’ve talked about, it’s likely that your local library offers a digital library app and other online resources such as these that you can utilize on the go:
- Music Downloads
- Digital Magazines
- Genealogy Databases
- Online Research
So, how do you like your library now? And you were imagining all this being burnt to a crisp (insert pair of eyes emoji here). Now, there’s no doubt that I’ve missed some things, but I’m going to leave the rest up to you, so get online or stop by your local library to see what they have to offer. Maybe they don’t have everything mentioned above, but find out if there’s a service you can use. If you have kids, teach them the value and importance of the library and how to navigate around. After all, they’ll need to use it for something someday. Give them some positive memories with you now before it becomes their final resting place in college.