By Pam Molnar
The library is a free resource found in many communities. While you may associate the library with hardcover and paperback books, library patrons know their local library has so much more to offer. If it has been awhile since you have been to the library, stop in today and get the full experience.
1. Ebooks. Many readers have chosen their ereaders over apaper book. To save money, check out the local library ebook catalog (which you can do online). OverDrive is used by libraries around the globe and offers 2.6 million titles available for check out for free.
2. Audio Books. Audio books are also available through OverDrive or as CD sets to be checked out. Children’s versions at the library usually come with a matching paper book as a great reading aid.
3. Music. Library collections include a large variety of music on CDs. Emusic is also available through apps like Freegal or Hoopla. It’s a great way to extend you own music library.
4. Videos. Watch the latest release or binge watch TV shows you have missed. Videos are available for all ages and genres. Check free DVDs or Blu Rays or watch them via online access through free apps like Hoopla.
5. Story Time. Most libraries offer story time in their children’s section. Kids can listen to the story while you browse the adult section or parents can sit in, too. Often times, the library arranges a craft to go along with the story.
6. Clubs. There are several clubs that meet through the library. Some clubs for adults found at your local library may include knitting club, scrabble club, English as second language conversation groups and book clubs for a variety of genres and meeting times.
7. Speakers. Your local library may schedule speakers to come in and talk about many subjects, like super couponers, historians, tax advisors and small business consultants.
8. Computers. Not only do libraries offer free Wi-Fi for your own devices, they also have computers and printers that you can use onsite. Libraries do charge a small fee per sheet for printing so bring along some pocket change.
9. Other Media. Your local library might also have scanners, fax machines, equipment to convert VHS to DVD, 3-D scanners and printers. Check with the library about any fees associated with use or to reserve space during busy times.
10. Classes. Need to brush up on your computer skills? Check with your local library for free seminars and classes on Microsoft Office, analog converting software or graphics software. While it is not enough to make you an expert, it will help you to get your feet wet.
11. Genealogy and Local History. You can research various historical databases, newspapers, archives, military records and more. Libraries often carry memberships to websites like Ancestry.com, Fold 3 or Heritage Quest.
12. Online Resources. Online memberships at the library are not limited to history. Ask your librarian about databases for business, legal, career assistance, medical, investments or to learn a language through Rosetta Stone.
13. Interlibrary Loans. If you can’t find it at your library, you can borrow it from another library through interlibrary loans. You can request books, DVDs, CDs, magazines or journals on microfilm. It’s a great resource for research not available online.
14. Business Services. Libraries offer services to help you locate a job, freshen up your resume, brush up on your computer, speaking or writing skills. They can even help you to start your own business.
15. School Books. When your child forgets his book at school and the online book is having a glitch, contact your local library to see if they have a copy in their reference section. Some libraries may carry your school district’s books for 1st- 12th grade on a variety of subjects.
16. A Place for the Teens. Libraries are one of the many places competing for teen’s attention. Libraries offer designated space for socializing, homework assistance, teen book clubs, writing contests, movie nights, teen clubs like Anime, ACT/SAT prep and video game loans.
17. Homeschool Sources. With more than 1.7 million homeschooled kids in the U.S. alone, libraries have stepped up to meet their needs. Ask your local library about library events for homeschoolers like daytime speakers, workshops, writing classes, book clubs or exhibits.
18. Programs Just for Kids. In addition to story time, libraries offer crafts, author celebrations like Dr. Seuss’ birthday, puppet shows and more. Kids also have a designated space with lower shelves and comfy spaces to sit. Computer games in the children’s section offer help with grammar, spelling, and math or just for fun.
19. Book and DVD Sales. Friends of the Library sales allow libraries to cull their collection of multiple copies or slow moving materials. Prices are usually 25 cents to a dollar and go to purchase new books and media.
20. Work Spaces. People often come to the library to get away from the distractions of a home office, work with a tutor or work on group projects. Private rooms are available for small groups or larger community meetings.
Pam Molnar is a freelance writer, mother of three and frequent visitor to the library.