E-Books and audiobooks
Foreign language instruction
English as a second language
College is expensive enough without required textbooks that can run well into the hundreds of dollars. Luckily, your library may provide free access to the eBrary, which allows you to check out or even fully download such fascinating books as Understanding Applied Behavior: An Introduction for Parents, Teachers and Other Professionals. Like its paper counterpoint, you’ll be able to highlight passages and even print up to a certain number of pages.
Love your city’s museums and galleries, but don’t have the money to explore within your own community? You’re no longer relegated to a dreary home life, as most libraries offer cultural passes that allow for free admission from museums, zoos, literary events, concerts, even movies! You’ll likely have to reserve them in advance, but this is a great opportunity to explore your community’s resources without breaking the budget.
Individual one-on-one librarian services
Wish you could sit down and pick a librarian’s brain on a certain subject? It turns out that you can! Many libraries allow you to ‘Book a Librarian,’ who will research a certain subject and then sit down with you for 30 minutes to an hour. Just let them know in advance what subject you need researched, and they’ll come armed with materials and information to discuss your area of interest. Whether you’re a student, toiling over a work-related project or simply wanting to expand your knowledge in a certain area, this service holds a world of possibilities.
SAT and ACT prep classes
Have a student who’s approaching the dreaded ACT and SAT tests, yet don’t have an extra grand to drop on prep classes? Look no further than your library system. Many libraries offer test prep, both online or even in person that can help your college and scholarship prospects. This resource is neither expensive nor is it inconvenient!
Resume and job resource assistance
Between jobs, yet unsure how to craft the perfect resume? Or maybe you just need to buff up your job search and interviewing skills? Yup, the library can help you with this one as well! Many libraries provide resume services and even have classes to help you optimize your job search and present your best self in person. Either hit up your library’s website, or even better go in person and ask your friendly librarian.
Live homework help in multiple languages
In the middle of your algebra homework and about ready to tear out your hair? Tutor.com pairs with many library systems to provide free live homework help to tackle that neverending schoolwork. Tutors will help with everything from proofreading rough drafts, PSAT and GED prep, to help tackling those tough math problems. Live from 2 P.M. to 10 P.M., these services are available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese!
Whether you’re a reader of Cosmopolitan or Popular Science, your favorite magazine is likely available through the Zinio library program. With over 5,500 choices, you can read current or back issues on any of your devices. These digital magazines include all the content found in the paper editions, both editorial and advertising. Give this program a try, it’s free and has the potential to replace your pricey and wasteful magazine habit!
Have a home maintenance project, yet lack the necessary tools? Your local tool library is available to save the day! It’s far from necessary to own a tool you’ll only use once every five years, and tool libraries have cropped up to assist with this dilemma. Some are associated with municipal libraries, although many are independent non-profits run by volunteers. Do an internet search for ‘tool library’ plus the name of your town to borrow instead of buy.
Summer reading programs for kids and teens
It’s easy to let students spend their summers sleeping and staring into their phones, but signing them up for your library’s summer reading program can help to combat the dreaded summer brain drain. Everyone from babies through teens can earn prizes by reading and completing library-related activities. (OK, maybe babies are more likely to be read to.) Libraries provide game boards, which young patrons fill in and then bring back for fun prizes. Complete the entire board, and your young reader earns a T-shirt! Too old to participate? Worry not, as many libraries have adult summer reading programs as well!
Have a knitting group or a Chaucer discussion group or even a World of Warcraft debate club and nowhere to meet? Your local branch library often has meeting space that’s free to reserve. Rules need to be reviewed ahead of time, and likely will include a clause that your meeting needs to be free to all, but you know it’ll be clean, warm, inviting and free!
You may consider yourself computer-savvy, but perhaps you have a friend or relative who would benefit from this service. Whether it’s how to use Word or even simply how to navigate the Internet, these classes are offered in multiple languages at almost all libraries across the nation.
Stuff you never dreamed was available
Libraries across our great planet keep thinking of new and better ways to serve their communities, and it’s not uncommon to run across articles that feature libraries providing everything from prom dresses to sewing machines, kitchenware to humans. Yes, humans. Started in Copenhagen, The Human Library organization promotes diversity in over 50 countries and encourages library patrons to ‘not judge a book by its cover.’ Participants can check out a person for 20-30 minutes, and hopefully ‘foster understanding between different types of people that would normally not interact with each other.’
Because sometimes you simply want an honest to goodness, made-from-a-tree book.