In this week’s Princh Library Blog post, guest writer Sam L. Bowman showcases the practical skills you can learn at your local library, with examples of past events hosted by public libraries.
More than a house of knowledge
Your local library is a great place to find your next engaging book to take home so you can curl up with a cup of coffee or tea and read away an afternoon.
However, libraries are also essential hubs that provide other kinds of information. You can learn skills and techniques that can help you with everything from your next DIY project to your next job. Yes, there are books. But there are also workshops, internet access, and other programs offered by your local library, and you can learn and grow in ways you never expected.
Let’s take a look at 10 practical skills you can learn by spending time in your local library.
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1. A New Language
Learning a new language can be daunting, and often the materials or apps are very expensive. However, you can check out language learning books for free at your local library, and you may even have access to language software.
Consider reinforcing what you’re learning by checking out foreign language movies or audiobooks. You can create your own immersive learning program for free! Some libraries, like the Hanson Public Library, have been known to host workshops about how to use language learning programs as well.
2. Computer Skills: Basic and Advanced
Not everyone is comfortable with computers or grew up with one at home. Fortunately, you can learn basic computer skills at Digitallearn.org, a free digital training offered by the Public Library Association. Discover how to use email, job search online, avoid fraud, and use online communication tools.
Beyond that, your public library will have books and resources about advanced computer skills, including web design, coding, cybersecurity, and more. These technology skills can help you advance in your career or land a job in information technology (IT).
3. Art: How to Draw, Paint, and More
Learning art takes practice, and not much time is devoted to it in school. That makes it ideal to learn on your own. You can check out countless books on how to draw, how to paint in different mediums, how to make stained glass, and more. Some libraries, like the Coeur D’Alene Public Library, have monthly art workshops where you can hone your skills.
There’s no doubt that art enriches life, and by learning about it at the library, you can express your creativity in ways you might have thought impossible.
4. DIY and Remodeling Your Home
Being able to take care of repairs at home is a great way to empower yourself as a homeowner and save money. Many library resources, from books to DVDs to online videos, can help you learn DIY projects — and teach you when to call a pro. Certain libraries, like the Brooklyn Public Library, even offer home repairs and maintenance workshops you can attend.
Speaking of professionals, it’s also important to know what to expect during a home renovation and how to find the best materials and contractors. For example, you might be interested in working with eco-friendly materials to keep your carbon footprint small. Library resources can help you learn more about fast-growing woods that are sustainably farmed, recycled materials, green building techniques, and more.
5. Budgeting and Personal Finance
We still don’t learn much in school about how to take care of our personal finances throughout our lives, even though these skills are essential. Fortunately, you can learn them for free.
At your library, you can find books and other programs on budgeting, saving for the future, and how to manage credit. Your future will be far more stable as a result.
You can attend financial wellness workshops at places like the Boston Public Library.
6. DIY Car Maintenance and Repair
Whether you love working on cars or simply want to save money on basic maintenance by learning how to change your own oil, replace air filters, or do other small jobs, your public library can help you develop the skills you need. The books and videos at the library are great resources for understanding how cars work. You can even attend a car maintenance workshop at libraries like the Hawaii State Public Library System.
Many people find gardening emotionally rewarding. A garden can also provide you with beautiful flowers, healthy food, or both.
The books and resources at the public library can help you learn everything from how to prepare soil to what plants grow best in your area. You’ll know everything about climate zones and be ready to have a thriving garden in no time.
Attending a gardening fundamentals workshop at a library like the Salt Lake City Public Library can also help elevate your gardening skills.
Speaking of delicious healthy food, cooking is another practical skill you can learn at the library. From cookbooks to primers on different regions’ cuisines, you can learn any cooking skill you need.
Maybe your parents never taught you to cook, and you need the basics. Or maybe you’re tired of the same old recipes and want to branch out. Either way, the library has you covered, be it through books you find or a hands-on cooking workshop, like the Farmingdale Public Library hosts.
9. Career Skills
Growing in a professional career requires a lot of skills, and it can be challenging to learn them on the job. Instead, get the information you need at the library.
From choosing a job you enjoy to communication skills to dealing with challenging people, you can learn a tremendous amount from the books and resources that are freely available to the public. You can even attend a career coaching workshop to boost your professional self, similar to the ones they do at the San Francisco Public Library.
We all need a way to wind down and relax, and for many people, crafts fill that need. You can be creative while making something beautiful and useful. Your library will have books and possibly even classes on crafts from crochet to pottery to origami.
You can learn to make jewelry, sew, make candles, or soap. The possibilities are endless, and there are both books and DVDs about dozens of different crafts — or even in-person assorted craft workshops and events, like those the Oakland Public Library provides.
Improve Your Life and Career With New Skills
Whether you learn a skill intended for work or one that simply makes life more enjoyable, your public library will have the resources you need for free. You may even be able to set up a makerspace there for very little money.
Continuing to learn long after school ends helps add meaning to life and keeps us on top of the new skills necessary in the workplace and the world. Schedule some time to visit your local library soon.
We will be back with another interesting article from the library world soon!
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