Do you have a library card? Every member of my family has one, and we use them frequently. If you haven’t had a library card since you were a child, you may be surprised at the many ways you can use one today.
Of course, you can still check out books, but your local public library offers so much more. In many ways, the library is a portal to learning adventures and fun we might not ordinarily have. Here are just a few ways my family uses our public library.
My local library offers access to Freegal, a service that allows users to legally download music. Each member of our family can use their library card to download a certain number of songs or music videos each week, and it’s absolutely free.
According to the American Library Association, every major book publisher finally agreed in 2013 to participate in the library e-book lending programs in at least some capacity. Although some limitations still apply, library card holders now have access to many more e-books than they did in previous years.
Learning a foreign language
This year, my kids and I started learning Spanish with Mango. Mango offers dozens of foreign languages through their free library version, and the program is really easy to use. I have some hearing impairment, which made it difficult for me to keep up when I attempted to take a foreign language class in college. But using Mango, I am already starting to understand Spanish, and I’m looking forward to learning even more.
Exploring new hobbies
My kids enjoyed participating in our local library’s Lego club, and will probably enjoy it even more soon. Our library just announced that they secured a grant to purchase eight new Lego robots, so the learning opportunities just keep growing! There are other hobbies to explore, too, including a chess club, photography club, tai chi classes and more.
One of the ways we use our public library frequently is by utilizing their meeting rooms. Meeting rooms at libraries are often free for nonprofit organizations, such as my local homeschool group. They may also provide access to audio visual equipment, coffee makers, and other resources to help make your meeting a success.
Going on a road trip? Why not check out an audiobook to listen to on the way? Or consider using an audiobook to help your auditory learner with their reading skills as they read along to the narration. Many libraries offer audiobooks to check out using your library card.
One more way we use our local library is to provide reading incentives to our kids. Summer reading programs offer kids the chance to win prizes for reading lots of books, and writing contests offer them the chance to hone their creative writing skills. Some libraries even offer long term reading reward programs, where both kids and adults can earn badges or other acknowledgements for reading large numbers of books in various genres over time.
There are many more ways you might use your own public library, but you’ll never know if you don’t stop by and sign up for a library card. And who knows, you might just find a book you’d like to check out, too.
More by Tavia:
Have the Majority of Americans Abandoned Books Forever?
Reading to Your Daughter May Help Prevent Teenage Pregnancy
Reading My Way Through Strange Worlds