Friday, February 7, 2014

5 Awesome Things Your Local Library Offers

When my fiance and I got DVR in our apartment last summer, I started recording all the Criminal Minds episodes that aired and kept an Excel spreadsheet on my computer to track which episodes which were recorded and which episodes were upcoming, so Jonathan and I could start watching the show in order from season one, episode one (#nerdalert). After three seasons of this meticulous record-keeping and sifting through the 50+ episodes on our DVR, I had an awesome idea: the library.

Of course I always knew the library had DVDs and CDs, but for some reason it had never occurred to me that I could rent entire television seasons! It's way better than DVR because I don't have to fast-forward through commercials, and the library has shows Netflix doesn't offer (Exhibit A: Criminal Minds). That got me thinking about all the other awesome resources my local library has, and yours probably does, too! Here are five such fantastic things:

Photo via @mcstroup; design by Megan.
5. Test preparation books. Our local library has a huge section of reference books and practice tests for the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, SAT, ACT ... you name it, there's an acronym for it! They also have college guides and books about writing personal statements. One piece of advice? Don't be like me and wait until two weeks before your test to take your first practice exam. Yikes! ;)

4. On that note, if you're still a student, try looking for textbooks at your library before you spend hundreds of dollars on them! As a history major, a lot of my books were available at my university library, and with the renewals I could usually keep them until just before finals, if not all the way through my final exams. This method is particularly helpful if you have professors who require you to buy books and then only assign two or three chapters of each.

3. Group classes and lectures. I've actually seen Zumba classes offered at more than a few libraries, and I've rarely seen spaces in these libraries that would allow for a Zumba class that wouldn't disrupt the rest of the facility. I'm intrigued....

2. Free computer time and Internet access. When I first moved to the town I live in now, it took a few weeks for us to set up our wireless Internet in our apartment. Luckily, our local library is only two miles from my apartment, so I was able to ride my bike down to the library and use their computers to look for jobs online. I could also take my laptop and use their wireless so I could work on my resumes in InDesign. The library also offers printing and copying for minimal costs, and the librarian even gave me a free USB once!

1. Speaking of technology, many libraries also offer e-books or audiobooks for digital download. Check your library for details, but I know a lot of big libraries now (and even small ones like mine!) enable members to download books to their Kindle right from the library website. How could it get any easier?

Do you have a library card? What's your favorite resource at your local or school library?

P.S. — Just so you know, library cards are usually free. I thought this was common knowledge, but Jonathan was surprised when he found out I didn't have to pay an annual membership. As long as you have a piece of mail and photo ID showing you live in the library's area, your card should be free! And some libraries, like our San Jose Library, only require that you live in the state. Pretty neat!

Linking up with Darci, April, Christina and Natasha for FIVE on Friday, and Clare for Five Things Friday!

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