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Exploring All of the Free Wonders of Your Local Library

Exploring All of the Free Wonders of Your Local Library
Kathryn

Everyone knows that the library is the number one place to enjoy books for free. But did you know that your local library has numerous other free things for you to enjoy? The local library is a source of education and entertainment that shouldn’t be discounted, especially during the summer months when you are looking for free things to do with the kids!

Each library system is different. Some have more funding than others and can offer more programs. Therefore you will have to check with your own library to see specifically what programs they offer. Some of the free things that many libraries around the nation offer include:

Poetry Readings and Book Signings

If you enjoy listening to authors read their work aloud then you should check the event options available at your local library. Authors often do readings of their poetry and literature. They may also do book signings during the event. In many cases these authors are local to the area, giving you a chance to meet the creative people who are from the same part of the nation as you are.

Read-a-Role Plays

Not all of the readings that happen at libraries are done by the professionals. Some libraries also host events in which the audience members can choose to be a part of the reading. This is most commonly done with plays. Everyone in the audience who wants to read a part is given a book to read from and the play is read aloud. What a fun way to spend an evening with other people who also enjoy the power of words and the drama of theater!

Educational Lectures

Your local library is a terrific source of educational information. One great way to take advantage of this is to attend the public lectures that occur at your local library.

Film Screenings

Some libraries have event spaces in which they screen films. Typically these are films on specific non-fiction topics that are relevant to the times although they may also be niche topics that are of interest to locals. For example, at the San Francisco public library I have seen a documentary film on a local eco-project called ScrapHouse as well as a film about the historic movie theaters in the city.

Computer Training

Are there basic computer skills that you aren't comfortable with but would like to learn? For example, maybe you use Word but don't know how to use the many different shortcuts and features that it offers. Numerous libraries around the nation offer free classes to adults who are interested in getting more familiar with 21st century computing technology.

Internet Access

Speaking of computers, your local library surely offers free Internet access. This is a great thing to remember when the Internet goes out at your home and you have some online work that needs to be done or emails that must be sent. Instead of paying money to get a coffee at a local shop in order to use their Internet, you can just go to the local library and use the Internet there for free. Take your laptop and use their Wi-Fi or use the computers that your library also makes available.

Journals, Encyclopedias and Reference Sources

There is a lot of information available online but not everything can be easily found on the Internet. Don't forget that your local library is a great free resource of reference information. For example, you can often use the library to access current and archived journals that would otherwise require you to pay a subscription fee.

Employment Help

Since the downturn in the economy many libraries have begun to offer the community service of employment assistance. The most common form of this help is free assistance with updating your resume. For example, the New York Public Library has a job and resume workshop.

Conference Rooms

Perhaps one of the greatest things that the library offers for free is space. You can hold meetings and events in most public libraries. Some require that you reserve the space and may have limitations on the number of people allowed or the types of events that can be hosted there but not all of them are so picky. If you need to host a meeting and are looking for free space then your local library is a good bet.

Book Clubs

One of the types of groups that often meets in the conference rooms of libraries is book clubs. If you have been wanting to try joining a book club to meet people then check the library. They should have information on local book clubs, what people are reading and when they meet.

Craft Meetings

Another type of meeting that is sometimes held at libraries is the local craft meeting. For example, knitting groups and crochet groups sometimes meet at the library on a weekly or monthly basis. If you are interested in crafting with other people who also enjoy doing so then this would be a great library resource for you.

Children's Storytime

Almost every library offers some form of children's story time. This might just be an hour per week when you can take your kids to listen to age-appropriate tales with other kids in the community. That hour per week is valuable for both of you in terms of free entertainment that is also educational.

Tutoring Assistance

Does your child need help with homework but have trouble learning from you at home? The local library may offer a tutoring or homework help program that your child can take advantage of.

Summer Reading Program for Kids

A great summer activity for kids is to join the local reading program offered by the library. Typically children are rewarded with prizes for reading a certain number of books, encouraging them to stay busy with reading all summer long. There are often other events associated with the program as well. For example, the Chicago Public Library rewards readers with T-shirts but also hosts book raffles, author presentations and other drop-in events for participants in the kids' summer reading program.

Art Displays

Have you taken the time to look around your local library? If so then you may have noticed that there is public art on display there. It may be watercolors on one wall or it may be as extensive as a big art installation or an outdoor sculpture in front of the library. A great summer activity would be to check out all of the public art at the local libraries in your area. It's cheaper than an art museum and just as good!

Small Business Center

Are you interested in starting a small business? Do you own a small business but feel overwhelmed by it? Libraries often partner with the Small Business Associations, SCORE and other programs that aid small businesses to provide free public information to community members about small business topics including the legal steps necessary to start a small business.

Environmental Education Center

Libraries are often actively involved in green issues in the local area as well as on a global scale. If you are interested in eco-friendly information then check the library to see if they offer programs, events or other information in your area.

Bulletin Boards

Every library has a bulletin board where people can post and find information about activities, events, services and other things going on in the community. Make it a habit to check this board every time that you go in to the library. You may find something free there that you didn't even know you were looking for!

Your Librarian

Perhaps the most undervalued and overlooked - but most important - of all free resources that your library has is the librarian. These people have loads of information that can help you out and all you need to do is ask. They have information about the library system, about books and about the larger community. Get to know your local librarian!

What is your favorite thing about your local library?

 

Comments

  1. Michelle

    Don't forget about DVDs! All of the libraries I've ever been a member of have a pretty good selection of classic films to take home.

  2. Roderick

    I like to take advantage of the reading programs my local library has for children. It gets my kids excited to read new books and allows them to discuss reading with other children.

  3. Jamie

    Libraries have such great resources that people should take advantage of while they still can. I'll have to find out if my library does any special movie screenings because that sounds fun.

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