This is a guest post about the library card from Laura Diaz de Arce. Laura is a South Florida based writer with a penchant for KDramas and cat memes. She is one half of Smoking Mirror Press and an avid collector of old books bought at discount. She also makes a pretty good chocolate souffle. Follow her on Twitter @QuetaAuthor.
I grew up in a public library (not literally, like some depressing version of the Page Master) but it wasn’t until I started working at one last year that I really found out about all the things you can do with your library card. These aren’t places just filled with people like me giving you the stink eye when your phone goes off. There are a lot of programs and options available at your local library if you know what to ask for. Here’s a quick guide of some awesome things you may be able to unlock with your library card.
Know Your Local Library System
Is your local library a city library? County? State? How many branches do you have access too? Do you also have a card to your University system? Are you available for multiple library cards because of where you live? Knowing what libraries are available to you can expand what material and programs you have access to. Different branches of the same library system can sometimes offer different programming and collections, but you won’t know this until your attempt to know your library.
Since libraries are community-centered initiatives, they sometimes have reciprocity agreements with other organizations. When you sign up for a library card, make sure to ask if your library card can get you discounts or free admission to things. You might be able to take BAE to the local stage theater for free on Sundays, or get discounted tickets for museums or sporting events. While not all library systems have this, it’s worth the ask.
Go Mobile with E-Libraries and BookMobiles
Want to pick up a new book but don’t feel like putting on pants and seeing people? Before you reach for your Kindle, consider the free option. More libraries across the US are adding different electronic libraries. Libby is popular as well as Hoopla Digital. A lot of e-libraries have different types of material, not just ebooks but movies, comics, and audiobooks. There are also kid-friendly options, like TumbleBooks, with interactive games. A lot of these library services are available on other devices as apps, making it easy for you to listen to the Hunger Games on your run. And yes, a bunch are available on Kindle.
If you happen to live in a rural area, such as the Appalachian region, find out if your library has a by-mail or bookmobile program. Libraries have found really great ways to engage with the distant population they serve, make sure to take advantage of them!
Libraries aren’t just for books and media anymore. Some libraries have unique and well, interesting holdings that you can borrow. Rare book collections for one, but also power tools, cooking appliances, lawn care and bake ware. My library has cake pans you can borrow for instance, because who wants to pay $60 for a butterfly cake pan you’ll use once when you can borrow it for free instead?
Classes, Concerts, Clubs
Let’s talk programming. It’s not just Resume Writing 101 anymore—libraries have a plethora of programs to learn something new. Career-focused classes, such as resume writing and interviewing, are standards in most places, but there’s more now. Coding, cooking, crafting, financial literacy, etc. Some libraries also hold public events like movie screenings, guest lectures, workshops, theatrical performances, and concerts. Make sure to ask if there are additional costs and cancellation policies when you sign up though. And to keep your voice down, this is a library.
The one thing I’ve learned from working at a Library is that library workers are fully committed to serving their communities as best as they can. However, we can’t predict what every patron is interested in or likes to read. If there is something you want at your library, request it! You’d be surprised what Librarians can acquire. It’s also a great way to help get little-known books or indie items into your community. If that doesn’t work, there’s always inter-library loan, which helps get hard-to-acquire or rare material to the public.
Go forth on your oars of knowledge friends—just remember your due dates, too.