How to Make the Most of Your Public Library

If you live in a community with a good public library, count yourself lucky. Public libraries are a great source of information and entertainment, not to mention a tremendous bargain. Even if you already use the library, are you making the most of it?

Steps

  1. 1
    Get a library card. This is the first and most important step, but it's generally easy and free.
    • You may need identification or proof of residence. If you're not sure, call the library or visit the library website ahead of time.
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    • While you're inquiring, be sure to check on library hours, too.
    • If you live too far outside an area, you may not be eligible for a library card, but in most cases, you can still visit public libraries without one, and use materials and resources while on-site.
    • Many libraries offer kids their very own library cards, with a parent's permission. It's a great way to encourage kids to read.
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    Check materials out. Libraries have books, of course, but many have other media, including magazines and newspapers, CDs, DVDs, audio books, and e-books. Some even lend such things as art prints, tools, and seeds.
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    Ask a librarian. Librarians are professionals trained at finding information. They can help you find resources, online and off, on just about any topic.
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    Visit the library website. You'll find news, information, and announcements. Many library websites let you check for books in the catalog, and even request or reserve them.
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    Use online resources. Many libraries subscribe to research databases, online repositories of magazine and journal articles, online lessons and classes, e-books, music services, and much more. A librarian can suggest resources for you and help get you started using any technology that is not familiar.
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    Go for a visit. Many public libraries have places to sit and read, as well as group study or conference rooms.
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    Explore the public art, galleries, or other displays that are part of many public libraries.
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    Use public computers. Some public libraries even circulate laptops or e-readers. Or, use your own device with a public connection.
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    Attend library events. Find out if your library has classes, workshops, talks, author readings, concerts, story time for kids, or other events. Pick out some that sound fun or useful, and show up. Most cost nothing.
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    Boost your job search. Research prospective companies, use library computers, attend library programs, find help writing resumes and cover letters and don't forget to network. Librarians can help you find great resources.
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    Volunteer. It's not required, but you'll learn more about your library. It's also a great opportunity to meet other library users and supporters in your community.

Tips

  • Don't restrict yourself to any one genre, topic or interest. Libraries are a great place to explore. Go ahead and get a mystery novel if that's what you love to read. But now and then, try something outside your usual subject or preferences. It costs nothing extra.
  • Your library card may get you things from outside your library walls, too. If you're having trouble finding something, ask if your library participates in interlibrary loan or a similar system.

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