Not Your Parents’ Library

Libraries have come a long way over the last decade or so. We are not just books, microfiche, andtemperamental old photocopiers anymore. Most people are aware that their libraries have computers available for patron use, but that is only a little of what we have to offer.

One great way to check out what today’s high-tech libraries offer is to check out their website. Typically, you will find a handy calendar of events, have access to the library’s catalog to reserve books and other media, and log into your account to pay fines or renew books. But many libraries go beyond this. Some offer an online tutoring portal through their site. Others have genealogy archives, job hunting resources, and research materials that you can use without ever leaving your house. Way better than dusty old card catalogs and out of date encyclopedias, and you don’t have to worry about anybody judging you on your USB heated cow slippers. Admit it, now you’re totally jealous of me—as well you should be.

I’m sure you’ve seen the poor selection of magazines at your library. The most current issue is usually gone, pages are missing from whatever dog-eared castoffs are left, and all the puzzles have already been done. But many libraries are moving toward digital magazines. Ours does, and I’m addicted. You download a free app (we use Zinio to get started and then you can look through what the library has digital subscriptions for. You check out the title you want and it appears in the app. There typically isn’t a limit on how many issues you can take out, nor do they typically have a due date. You keep them as long as you need them, and they go away when YOU delete them. Sounds good, doesn’t it? The only catch I have ever found is that you have to check titles out through the library’s website instead of the app. Considering the cost of magazine subscriptions, it is a small price to play, isn’t it?

Are you a music fan? I certainly am. In addition to ebooks and emagazines, I found out that our library offers streaming music. Your library service might be different from ours, but I can listen to new releases with CD quality sound for free. Through the site, I am able to download a certain amount of songs each week (this will vary by library). The music is DRM free so I can basically do what I want with them—upload them to whatever music service I use, burn them to a cd, and so on.   Obviously, I am limited by what artists are in the library’s database so I don’t always get everything I’m looing for but I do find enough music to keep me happy. I don’t know about you, but I can’t find a better deal than that anywhere else!

You will never know what your library has available to you unless you check it out. Go ask a librarian (tell them Lewis sent you), or pull up your local library’s site yourself and start looking around. You might be surprised at what you find.

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