You might think that no one goes to the library anymore, but trust us when we say it, libraries are visited a lot and there are some great perks available for free. As highlighted here by Mogens Vestergaard (Library Manager at Roskilde Libraries), the modern library has gained more purposes than just ensuring the place for borrowing books – it has become a community hub.
Libraries are offering an impressive bundle of programs and services that help you follow your passion or help you learn a new skill. In the following blog posts, we’re going to explore some of the most interesting things you can do at your local library. In this first post, we will focus on 7 activities you can do at your local library for free.
1. Enjoy a free place with wi-fi access for work or leisure
Always feel pressured to buy one more coffee so you can spend an extra hour at your local café? Go to your local library instead! It has various spaces to choose from; quiet or loud, a decent Wi-Fi connection, huge tables, comfortable chairs, lots of computers and happy librarians to help you out.
Not to mention that libraries are great at adapting to the times and at paying attention to your needs and requests. You can definitely find an interesting program to participate in or if not, you can simply talk to the librarians and see if it can be added to the program.
2. Get free access to expensive magazines and newspapers
Want to get past the three free articles from the Economist, Harvard Business Review and other great magazines? Go to your local library for free access to the most famous magazines and newspapers.
Many libraries use some type of content distribution service – for example RBdigital (formerly Zinio for Libraries) – which allows the users access to the magazines and newspapers on their laptop, tablet or smartphone. As a plus, for most titles users get access to not just the latest issue as well as back issues.
3. Get free access to trustworthy databases from all over the world
Need access to scholarly literature or you simply enjoy reading academic articles but it is difficult to find a trustworthy source on the internet? Not all authoritative information can be found for free on websites and you’ll often find that your local library has a dedicated page to an amazing list of research tools available for free only to their users.
Websites can be written by anyone regardless of their expertise, so get your facts right by using a trustworthy source that has information from professors and experts on the subject. Most library databases can be browsed from any PC that has internet access.
4. Listen to music or learn to sing
Libraries have long offered physical CDs, cassettes and LPs. But as streaming services are gaining ground in the music world, the libraries have been quick to adapt to this direction and most of them have added a streaming service to their collection.
Talk to your nearest library and find out how you can legally stream or download music with the help of your library card. By the way, some of the libraries even offer free concerts, singing or rhythm classes.
5. Watch the latest movies online or at the library
There are various ways you can watch movies at your local library for free. Libraries have been offering for a while the option to check out DVD players and DVDs. Plus, if you love the cinema atmosphere, many libraries run film screenings from time to time where people can gather around to watch and discuss movies, both old and new.
Libraries are also offering the possibility to stream movies and TV-series on the library’s PC or your own devices – with the help of your library account. To do so, many of the libraries have teamed up with different streaming platforms such as Kanopy or Overdrive to provide access to a large database of movies to library cardholders, free of charge.
Kanopy – streaming service offered in libraries
6. Take online courses for free
More and more libraries are partnering with online education companies to offer quality (and usually expensive!) online courses for free at the library, making it even easier for you to learn a new skill. Moreover, most online courses platforms include hundreds, if not thousands, of a wide range of courses from programming to chemistry to graphic design or body language.
For example, if you live in North America, you probably have completely free and unrestricted access to Lynda through your library. If you enjoy quality online courses, go to your local library and find out to which online education platform they offer access to.
7. Get advice from a professional
Librarians are masters of multiple disciplines so they can ensure the library provides a wide range of activities. Also, they have a thirst for knowledge and they love sharing it with the others. If you need help with homework, finding a job or have a general question, then find the closest library and get the answer.
Many libraries have a citizen’s service so if you need qualified advice or some help with government paperwork, then they will have the representatives from the local municipality who can help you with information and guidance on matters such as health insurance, passport, driving license, marriage ceremonies. You can also get help with some private matters, such as tax, divorce, child maintenance, etc.
Let’s not forget: You can read books and join a book club
Everyone knows that reading books for free is what you can do at the library. Even though this may sound obvious, it is still worth remembering that at the library you can find the masters in books to guide you in your reading experience because after all, librarians do love books.
Want to contemplate different book passages but the online forums are not that clear or helpful? You can join a book club at your local library and discuss new books with a wider range of people that you don’t know (yet!) which will provide you with other viewpoints of the book and more food for thought.
To conclude, the library is a great source for fun activities at no charge, as long as you have a library card. It is time to pay a visit to your local library – the community cultural center – and find out what new interesting things you can do today.
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