Have You Checked Out Your Local Public Library Recently?

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library books, image credit: mountsaintvincent.eduAs a kid, I went to the library weekly, grabbing new books and getting yelled at for misplacing overdue ones. Even now, I remember feverishly looking for the next book in the Boxcar Children series, or re-reading How To Eat Fried Worms for the 86th time. Then I went for about ten years without public library card. I guess my recreational reading activity dropped due to school, work, and good ole’ cable TV. For a while I just bought every book I wanted from Amazon (mainly with gift certificates from various online offers). But over the past year I have again become a regular library visitor.

First of all, the selection is great. In addition to books, a lot of popular music albums and DVDs are available. Recently, I’ve gotten the newest Snow Patrol album and a full season of the Sopranos. Other features which may be in your area are Library2Go, which offers audiobooks that you can listen to on your mp3 player, and NetLibrary, which offers e-books that you can download to your computer or PDA.

My favorite feature is the internet-based hold system. I go online, pick out all the books I want, and make a few clicks. I get to see exactly how many people are ahead of me, and when the book is ready, it’s shipped directly to my local branch (only a few blocks away) and I get an e-mail saying it’s waiting for me. Renewing online is just as easy. I love it.

So don’t miss out on this great resource. I still buy a lot of books, but I can browse and explore so much more content this way. Also, this means there’s no good reason why you can’t read some of the best investment books out there. Check one out this weekend!

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  1. I rediscovered the library about 10 years ago, and it’s been great. The fact you can rent DVDs for free, plus the Internet reservation system (like you mentioned), are both excellent things. Plus I’m an avid reader anyways, so when I’m so inclined, I’ll pop over to my local branch and pick up some free entertainment. Always a good thing.

  2. I found this site not too long ago and really like it. It is a way to exchange books for free with people from around the country (sender pays shipping) I’ve saved over $80 already.


  3. This is so great I just bought the whole set of the Boxcar Children for my granddaughter. We just finished the first book.

  4. You are so right about the public library. But you are in an area with an up-to-date online system. I attended graduate school in a city with a library system that consistenly ranks in the country’s list of top ten systems. The online functions were exactly like you mentioned above. Book reservations were free. Even better, it was free to check out the movies. I enjoyed the branches and used them often. I visited several branches and was pleased with all.

    Now I’m back in my home state. The two closest library systems have some catching up to do. One charges a fee for doing reservations online but it’s free if you call a branch and have a librarian do it for you. Backwards and outdated?

  5. By plugging in my library card number (from home) and navigating an unfortunately byzantine web site, I am able to read articles from newspapers and magazines that require paid subscriptions, for free. Definitely talk to the reference librarians, they know about all kinds of “hidden treasures” in the library.

  6. I agree with the use of the library. I have discovered the ease of online holds/renewals and usually have at least 2-3 books checked out at any given time. Great resource that is not used to its fullest.

  7. Something else that I really love about the library (at least here in Boston) is they have online access to all sorts of databases, which includes Consumer Reports archives. Not only do I not have to subscribe, I don’t even have to go outside!

  8. That’s true! Also, the New York Times mentioned a while back how even though folks are using search more and more, there are still tough questions that you can’t phrase easily on an engine. A lot of librarians take it as a personal challenge to get the answers.

  9. Yes I agree, libraries can kick some serious ass. I was there the other day just to pick up some tax forms and they had tax professionals there to help with questions. You could even have them do your tax return for free. It was a program provided by the AARP and favored seniors, but they were very helpful. Our library also has board games that you can check out, instead of buying them.

  10. I work for the City. So the library is just a different department in our organization, and they use inter-office mail to send and receive stuff from other departments just like the rest of us. So they set up a system online where I put in my library card number and my office, and they put the book in interoffice mail. I have a library book in my inbox at my office in a day or two. It’s great!

    Libraries all over the country have been updating their online presence and expanding inter-library loan networks to provide greater selection without adding wings or purging unpopular books. I hadn’t even thought to check the DVD and CD selections. That’s a great idea!

  11. How do you guys get around the long holds placed by other people? Everytime I check on some popular DVDs and bestsellers that just came out or have been out for some time already – they seem to be checked out and have holds placed for months in advance. Any tips?

  12. I LOVED the Boxcar children when I was younger… and now I realized how unrealistic it was for a 16-year-old to lead around his 3 younger brothers and sisters. Oh well. Still a great series. 😉

  13. The public library in our areas is fabulous. The hold system is just great, not only for the latest DVDs but also the latest books..I’m now waiting for the last of the Harry Potter books. .

  14. Ah, Box Car Children. I LOVED Boxcar children when I was a kid too. Really bring back memories.

  15. as a reference librarian, I love to see others preaching the goodness that is the public library!

    you might like udell’s library lookup project, which installs a bookmarklet on your browser so when you are browsing the bookstore sites, you click your bookmarklet and another window pops up letting you know if your library system has the book. If you need help with finding out your library’s circulation system, call and ask!

    talk to your librarian about the holds system and if s/he has any tips for getting on the list faster. They might be able to tell you when they proccess and add new materials or your system might have a fave author’s list, which automatically puts you on the list for a new item.
    National Library Week is April 15-21 and National Library Workers’ Day is the 17 so maybe take some cookies or candy with your request for help 😉

  16. I retired three years ago. I’ve always found time to read books, but I swore that, after retirement, I’d “catch up” my reading. I visit the St Joseph Public Library every week, and check out a minimum of four books- often six or seven- and read all of them in six to ten days. I’ve been doing this for nearly three years, and hope to continue for many years more. I would dearly love to have an e-book reader, but I would never, ever give up the library for any other form of entertainment. Thanks for telling everyone about the value of their library.

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