(Credit: Los Angeles Library)
“I have always imagined that paradise a kind of library.” So said the famous writer Jorge Luis Borges, and if you love that musty old buildings filled with study carrels and knowledge, you are likely to be part of his heavenly sentiment.
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Today, the library is just as important as ever. I mean physical libraries, the same brick-and-mortar buildings which have been lending books since the creation of America. However, how does a place full of hardbacks and Cd’s to keep pace with the digital world? By an adjustment of the logic and evolves with the time.
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Armed with a simple library card, you can use your tax money to good use and one of the noblest institutions there is – while you enjoy an almost unlimited selection of literature, magazines, music, movies, and even free office space. Here are just a few of the benefits of your local library has to offer.
1. eBooks and Audio books
When you think “library,” you think books. But books come in many types, including picture books for children, paperbacks for the beach, and large-print books for people with visual impairments.
The explosion of media has given birth to multiple new formats: libraries today also boast an impressive number of eBooks and audiobooks, all free with a library card. All you need is your eReader (such as the super-cheap Kindle) and/or an audiobook app that provides support for your library file types (such as Overdrive), and you can binge books on the way in which you binge on TV shows.
Just bear in mind, eBooks and audiobooks from the library with a due date, just like the print books do – you’ll be able to keep your copy for generally about two weeks, then you get to refresh your reading, or leave it available for other library cardholders.
Specific titles, in particular, beloved bestsellers, may not always be available. However, you can place hold requests, just as with printed books, and for the link to download your copy as soon as it is available.
2. Dvd’s and Cd’s
Long before streaming, libraries will compete with video and music shops with one major exception – the tapes, Dvd’s and Cd’s would be pretty to check out with a library card.
Sure, the selection is perhaps somewhat more limited, and the new version would not be as fast, and sometimes the Dvds or Cds would be scratched and difficult to play. The movies would be free, and still are free at your local library now.
The best approach for a library in the selection is to treat it as a thrift store: you never know what’s donated through the years, so you can browse through the eclectic collection for old favorites or bygone blockbusters you never.
3. Wi-Fi and places to work
The “virtual office” usually means one of two things: your house, or a café. Coffee drinks add, and sometimes leaving the house is a blessing for productivity. The solution: an open table or upholstered chair, with thanks to the local book-lender. Every large library has free Wi-Fi internet access included, shops, and the designated spots to work and the only restrictions are the hours of the operation. (And no phone calls, of course).
Libraries often have remote work stations and meeting rooms you can reserve.
The need for a computer? Almost all libraries have desktops available, and some even have laptops you can rent on site. These devices come with limitations of their use, but they are still useful for many situations, and they often have the printers that are available for use. So libraries are excellent work locations.
5. Free images
Have a large stock of images that are more historical or natural, or the need to look at the famous works of art, or with a number of local maps? Libraries can help. The New York Public Library has 200,000 free images that you can use for any purpose, and you can download them from your house. It also has a collection of 180,000 art, literature, performance, many of which are in the public domain, as 672,000 items in the digital collection in general.
Peruse the items in your house, and use of the public domain for the purposes that you can think of. Then perhaps enjoy a collection of coloring pages of world-class libraries and museums, which you can print out and use when also made available through the digitization efforts of libraries.
Also, don’t forget to see what similar services from your local library—you may get to see some great old maps of your city or portraits made by local artists of yesteryear.
6. Classes on Technology
As a cheap alternative to the more formal continuing education, libraries often host classes and workshops on various topics. These classes can be on the technology, accounting, or studio art. In the case of the D. C. library system, there might even be a course on how to prevent the NSA spying. The lessons are often divided by age, the provision of courses to teenagers and adults in order to better account for their relative levels of learning, and some libraries even offer courses aimed at young children to encourage literacy and the necessary mathematical skills.
Libraries also often provide ESL programs to help people who are less familiar with the English to get fluent. Since these lessons are free, they are aimed at a wide audience, so typically they are intended for serious beginners. If you already know a bit about Excel, take a class in the local library will probably cover what you already know.
7. Activities for children
Libraries are strongly focused on the children, of the separate parts (organized by age and reading ability) to child-friendly programming, such as storytelling and play sessions.
Children can also have access to computers with pre-installed games and learning programs. (Full access to the Internet can be limited as well).
8. Employment help
As mentioned earlier, libraries offer free classes that can give you the skills to put on a cv. On top of that, many local libraries have job vacancies on their website, in particular the local companies hire often, and some libraries offer programs for elementary resume and cover letter critique to those seeking it out.
If you are looking for work, your local library can be a great resource for you. Check out your local library site, and for questions about the next time you go in for one of the other great services and resources.
9. The 3-D printers
A number of the most tech-savvy libraries, including the college libraries offer 3-D printers for use. It’s all part of the ‘Maker’ Culture, providing space for people to create things that they use or sell.
Check with your library for the availability, any associated costs (some libraries offer printing for free, but cost for the plastic that is used) and the policy. You don’t want to get caught printing something that can get you in trouble.
While Wi-Fi is almost always available in libraries, more are offering hotspots for checkout. This gives internet access to people you would not otherwise have, to ensure that libraries are doing their part to close the digital divide.
Schools sometimes borrow the hotspots for their students, or their families, get the devices, so that the children can get a little homework done. Check with your library before you go to a hotspot, as the devices can have long waiting lists.
11. All Types Of Devices
In well-endowed libraries, you can borrow with an arsenal of digital equipment per hour. If you only have a camcorder to record a short meeting, or you only need a laptop and long enough to edit a few dozen pictures, this is the perfect set-up.
Most of these loans happens at colleges and universities, where students must use their student Ids to check valuable electronics. But technology is only available at your library, or at least difficult to find anywhere else: librarians can offer easy access to microfiche readers, transparency projectors, laser disc devices, cassette players and vinyl record turntables. These old-school devices can reopen, while the archives of the lost material.
What the digital lifestyle, if you have any questions? Call my radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. Of the buy of an opinion to the digital world problems, click here for my free podcasts.
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Learn about the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and provides advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.