5 More Ways To Be A Power Library User

Kelly Jensen


Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She's the editor/author of (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen.

Kelly Jensen


Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She's the editor/author of (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen.

This post is sponsored by Libby from OverDrive. 

Meet Libby, a new app built with love for readers to discover and enjoy eBooks and audiobooks from your library. Created by OverDrive and inspired by library users, Libby was designed to get people reading as quickly and seamlessly as possible. Libby is a one-tap reading app for your library who is a good friend always ready to go to the library with you. One-tap to borrow, one-tap to read, and one-tap to return to your library or bookshelf to begin your next great book.


A few years ago, I put together a post with six tips for becoming a power user of your local public library. It seems only right that that post is worth revisiting, this time with even more ways to up your library game. Get ready to fall more deeply in love with your library.




1. Discover your library’s programs and workshops for adults.

While the casual library user is familiar with what the library offers in terms of programming for young readers — story times, summer reading clubs, and so forth — the power library user should know that libraries often also provide a wealth of programs for adults.

Many libraries offer summer reading programs for adults, and often, those programs include a variety of programs and events. But even beyond the summer, libraries offer their adult patrons things like sewing or crafting groups, movie nights, book clubs across a variety of genres and interests, lectures, and more.

Your local public library may also partner with local and regional organizations to bring those events to their location. The county 4-H club or beekeeping society might offer to host one of their regular events at the library.

But it’s not formal programs your library might offer to adult patrons. In the library world, the phrase “passive programming” refers to ways to engage patrons without having to have someone on staff or someone from the community in to supervise an event. These passive programs are simple, effective and things you can take advantage of. See a table with some coloring pages and colored pencils out? That’s a passive program, and it’s meant to encourage people to spend a little more time at the library and in the case of something like this, do so without any structure or monitoring. Other examples of passive programs you might find at your library include “this or that” voting opportunities (where you might drop a piece of paper into a box indicating your preference for one thing over another); book displays (and yes, you CAN take those books off display — librarians love to refill them when they’re empty); “Blind Date With A Book“; soliciting book reviews; crosswords or word puzzles available for enjoyment; and many more. They’re all small things, but each adds a tiny bit of magic to your day and more, when you take part, you up your own library game by being involved and engaged with your community.


2. Use the perks your library card might entitle you to outside the library.

Though this is not relevant to all public libraries, many — particularly those in more urban or suburban areas — have established relationships with other places in the surrounding area. Those relationships mean you might be entitled to borrow items with your library card for experiences OR that you might be able to flash your library card for discounts or other promotions.

This might mean you can borrow museum passes from the library or score a discount for tickets by showing your card.

Another perk that might come with your library card is admission to other libraries which aren’t public. If you’re in a community with a college or university, for example, your local card might give you admission to browse or borrow titles from their collections.

These perks vary by library and location, but ask your local friendly librarian if there are places you can use your card. They’ll be happy to share.

Enjoy the extra cash in your pocket.


3. Pick up a new skill or hobby or strengthen your knowledge about those you already enjoy.

Want to build a porch on your house? Fix your car’s engine? Pick up crocheting or embroidery? If you haven’t perused the library’s holdings for guidebooks and manuals, then you’re missing out.

Though it’s convenient to have access to a wealth of information on the internet, one of the advantages of print books is that they’re tried and tested. The books have seen their way through the editorial process and have been reviewed by trade journals, often by experts in the areas covered in the books. Likewise, many manuals, especially those for car repair, are consistent book-to-book, so when you need to fix something, you know where and how to find the information you need without frustration.

Want to try out a new way of cooking? Don’t drop $20 on a new book. Grab a few from the local library. Curious about creating a lush garden in your backyard or on your patio? Grab a how-to guide from the library. Want to learn how to make soap? Library. That. Book. Heading to Spain for a vacation and want options for where to visit? L i b r a r y.

And don’t forget: you can also borrow test prep books for a variety of subjects and professions. Libraries update those regularly, so your nursing exam test prep book will be current and not something from ten or fifteen years ago.



4. Discover the “Library of Things”

Again, this one varies by library, but any power user would want to know the wheres, whens, and hows of their particular location.

What’s the “Library of Things?” It’s exactly what it sounds like: the things in the library you can borrow that might not be obvious or what you initially think of when you think about the library. For example: many libraries offer things like cake pans to check out. This allows the community to share resources that might otherwise be needless expenses. Will you really need a cake pan in the shape of a duck for multiple uses? Probably not. But one cake pan that the community can borrow for an event, wash, and return for others to do the same is a great way to not just save money, but use the library for pooling and sharing resources.

Some of the things your library might have for you to borrow: a Santa Claus suit, telescopes or binoculars, green energy monitors, sewing machines, musical instruments, tools, snowshoes, board games, and more.

Peruse your library’s website to see if they list possible “things” up for borrowing or ask the next time you pop in. It’s possible your library may not have things you can borrow, but a neighboring facility does and it can be sent to your library for your use.



5. Try Out Streaming Services

So you likely already know about the databases and the ebook options available through your library (or you’ve read those power user tips before). But are you familiar with the streaming services your library might subscribe to?

Library streaming services come through a variety of vendors and they offer different options. Some services allow users to borrow and stream movies, while others offer opportunities to borrow — and sometimes even keep! — music.

If your library doesn’t stream services online, and maybe even if they do, some also make it possible to rent items like a Roku that users can check out to stream titles at home.

And if you’re itching to get your hands on an ereader but haven’t a clue which you might like or how it might work with your library’s ebook collections, it’s possible your library has an assortment of lendable devices you can check out and test.