Can we all just agree that libraries are awesome places? Even just the most basic concept is awesome. You go in, pick up a book, check it out, read it, and bring it back. No money spent (unless you return it late) and you have access to hundreds and thousands of books. Awesome, right? But, they get so much better the more you pay attention to the goings on at your local library. From computers to apps to classes and events, libraries are opening up a world of resources to people of all different walks of life. Let’s talk about it!
Books…obviously, but unique ones
Libraries don’t have to worry about which books are going to sell well. They just have to worry about having the book a person wants when they want it. That means that if you have some unique interests, such as Shakespeare scholarship and Tudor history, you will likely be able to find a variety of books and resources that might otherwise be difficult to find. Additionally, the library makes it super easy to find more books. All I have to say is God bless the Dewey Decimal system. Find a book that looks helpful. Then, look at the books on the shelf nearby. I can almost guarantee there will be more useful books! At my library, they even offer this feature online, so you can browse the shelf and request books that way. It’s a big timesaver during research.
Extra bonus! Libraries help authors, especially those that write about unique books. This was something I hadn’t even thought about until I was listening to a podcast with John and Hank Green on it. John mentioned that supporting libraries is a great way to support authors because libraries buy so many books. How can one institution be such a net positive for the world?!
Hello, my name is Sara and I’m addicted to books
Raise your hand if you can’t seem to stop buying books. It’s simply an incredible feeling to hold a brand new book in your hands and feel the weight of possibility. What will you experience? What will you learn? Every new book is a new adventure ready to start. Don’t even get me started on the smell. Libraries can give you that feeling without costing you a dime. You can check out as many books and movies as you want. Plus, by checking out those books you are supporting a great institution and keep those books in circulation. By just picking up a new and interesting adventure for yourself, you can help make sure that another person will have access to that book when they want it.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to be very ambitious about what I can read in a very short amount of time. Then, I get distracted by a new, shiny book. What can I say? Bookstores are my happy place, so when I’m having a rough day that’s usually where I end up. That means that my pile of books gets larger and larger and all those other possible adventures start calling to me. However, nothing brings forth the reader guilt like hitting renew for that second (or third) time. Having a date that I am expected to return the book keeps me reading and gives me that hard deadline to work toward. Now, if I could just stop checking out or buying new books long enough to shrink my “to read” pile….
Let’s get digital
Our libraries are keeping up with the technological times because of course they are. Haven’t you heard? Libraries are awesome! If you’re like me, you have considered audio books. Especially since almost every podcast I listen to is supported by subscription services. However, I was never sure if I was an audiobook person. I get distracted easily and I can miss important things. I was hesitant to dedicate the money to a subscription service (I never remember to cancel) when I wasn’t sure I would benefit from an audiobook. Then, I found out my library had an app for that. I could download professional quality audiobooks for free! Yay, free! That’s how I found out that I can definitely pay attention to an audiobook while relaxing or doing something mindless. Also, having access to dramatized, unabridged versions of Shakespeare plays has made it much easier to comprehend the more difficult parts of the text.
If your like me and overly ambitious about the amount you will read on a single vacation, you are often confronted with a pile of books and a suitcase that can’t quite fit them all. Or maybe you are going on a long trip and need a bunch of books, but still you are faced with the suitcase that can’t handle all of your books. This is a great time to break out the tablet. I personally would much rather read a physical book, but there are definite benefits to a tablet. If you do choose to use a tablet, your library still has you covered. Download an app, borrow a book or several (you can usually borrow over 10 titles per month) and have them all ready to go on your tablet. Then, they just get removed from your account when it’s time to return them. Easy, peasy and you can “carry” several giant books in the space of one tablet.
Supporting the eternal student
I personally missed school after I graduated. Learning new things and expanding my knowledge base, especially in college when I was more able to direct my learning and focus on my particular interests. As I stumbled my way through the working adult world, I was longing for that feeling of directed learning, a learning goal to work toward. Now that I am working on growing this blog, I have that goal, but still the lectures are missing. Podcasts can only get me so far. Enter the Public Library! I stumbled across a series of recorded lectures available on one of the apps offered. I can’t wait to dive in and hear lectures from leaders in the Shakespeare community. More to come on that as I work through a course.
One resource I missed having access to while in school was online research databases. It can be difficult to get access to scholarly articles on specific subjects without being a part of a university or paying a hefty sum. Fortunately, the libraries help fill that gap. They have access to a wide range of databases that you can search through. Then, if you can’t find free access to a full article, a librarian can help you find a print copy of the journal if they have it. Our libraries are so well connected that they can borrow from other academic libraries if there is a resource you need. They don’t always have it, but it never hurts to ask.
There are also a variety of resources available outside of the digital space. Libraries regularly hold classes, lectures, and reading groups. They help arrange for prominent authors to come to your town and speak. It’s awesome! And, again, they cover a wide range of subjects because they are here to serve the community, not worry about having giant ticket sales. Our library also has a makerspace that allows people to learn new skills and technologies that have a higher cost of entry. You can record a podcast or a video. You can use editing software. There are also sewing machines, 3D printers, and other crafting objects. There are even people to help teach you how to use everything available! Libraries just want you to learn.
I think you get the idea. Public Libraries are amazing. What are the favorite parts of your local library?