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Hit the books — and a whole lot more

By on December 29, 2007

photo by sarcozona
When is the last time you visited your local library and asked about the many services and events they offer? If it’s been a while, you’ll discover your library offers much more than books. Perhaps you already know they offered DVDs, microtext, rare manuscripts, instructional videos and interlibrary loans, but you’ll be surprised to learn what else they offer. Run to your local branch and start calculating your savings. One reader discovered her local library even loans out Wilton cake pans!

The following are a few services some libraries offer.

BOOK CLUBS: Find out what type of book clubs they have. I was impressed to find that mine offers a book club in a bag, which is a kit of 10 books, author information and some discussion questions to get your own club off to a great start. They have a large variety of titles to choose from, and each kit can be checked out for 12 weeks, which offers plenty of time for a club to get the materials distributed, read and discussed. Some libraries have online book clubs that deliver popular books via daily e-mail. Many libraries also offer special reading programs for all ages that offer fun activities and even prizes. Not into book clubs? Many have different clubs, such as knitting, scrapbooking and learning a foreign language.

FACILITIES RENTAL: If you’re looking for a conference room with a kitchen or auditorium, see whether your library has meeting rooms available for a rental fee.

BOOK REVIEWS: Wouldn’t you enjoy reviews that are written by librarians? In addition to this service, many libraries offer staff-selected book lists for all ages and a list of new books that are arriving to the library. If you’re concerned about the waiting list for popular books, many offer popular titles that can’t be placed on hold and have shorter loan times.

AUDIO BOOKS, DVDS AND CDS: If you enjoy music and audio books, you might want to see what they have available. Some libraries allow you to download audio books to your computer. You might find your library offers self-playing digital audio books that don’t require a computer or CD player. Some libraries offer videos on demand that you can download, too.

MAGAZINES AND NEWSPAPERS: You can visit the library and read magazines and newspapers. You can read newspapers archives, too. Some libraries offer remote usage via computers with access to the Web, as well.

GAMES: Some libraries are broadening their services and providing video and computer games.

INTERNET: Some have wireless access available, in addition to regular Internet access. Many libraries offer adaptive technology for those who need it.

EVENTS: Not only do libraries sponsor their own events, which might include activities such as special guests, concerts, story times, family-friendly movie nights, crafts, computer classes, literacy services, workshops for child-care providers and seminars, many post community events in a central location, and some offer discounted or free tickets to local places such as the museum, aquarium or zoo.

COFFEE: Many libraries are offering coffee bars. Can it get any better than reading and relaxing?

E-BOOKS: Your library might participate with NetLibrary and offer more than 100,000 e-book titles.

SUBSCRIPTION DATABASES: You might discover your library has subscription databases that can include information such as business plans, science resources, history and genealogy, college catalogs, homework resources, maps, art prints and more.

BOOKMOBILE: If you live far from a branch library, many offer drop-off points that are closer to your home or even books by mail.

ART: Many libraries loan out art and sculptures. What a wonderful way to decorate your home.

BOOK SALES: Looking for inexpensive books? Most libraries have book sales. Some have deals such as filling a bag for a $1 It’s a great way to build your home library or donate to others in need.


  1. Tommy

    12/29/2007 at 3:06 am

    I admit it….I haven’t. The local libraries are a wealth of information and more and more “techno” what with there putes and all that they do….good point and I’ll chalk that up on the New Year’s resolution list!


  2. Pingback: » When Was The Last Time You Went To The Library? - Brightening the world, one person at a time.

  3. Adam Kamerer -

    12/30/2007 at 1:53 am

    As a librarian, I thank you for this post. 🙂

  4. Maggi

    1/3/2008 at 7:33 pm

    When the kids were younger we used to go to the library 3x week. They would pick books and I would read magizines. We sometimes got on the computer, you were allowed 15 minute.
    The kids were also signed up for the summer reading program.
    They got to meet new kids and still have fun.
    We also rented allot of movies then.
    If I wanted to know about something I heard, we were off to the library to learn about it.
    Libraries really are a frugal source for people with very little income or people who want to save even more.

  5. Edwin H

    7/22/2009 at 12:27 pm

    Our library here in Oro Valley, AZ has me really mad. I would go there once or twice each month and spend hours scanning the scientific journals – like Nature and Science. Then move to National Review. No more.

    I was curtly told last month that they had closed that area completely and permanently because “no one ever looked at them.” [This area included over 100 journals on a variety of subjects.] The woman then told me if I wanted to see them, I could go to the downtown [Tucson] library 20 miles away.

    So much for our local public library. I tore my card up and threw it into the trash.

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