Library patrons know that the library building can be an extraordinary place. Rows of books shelter new worlds and forgotten classics. Stacks of DVDs offer the promise of a free movie night. And programming might bring author talks, academic lectures, or the chance to make glittery princess wands. But even the most adamant library lovers sometimes forget that the library’s offerings don’t begin and end at the front door. Even when the library is closed or you can’t manage to go across town, the ever-growing world of online resources is available to you any time you can access the internet.
Each library’s offerings are, of course, unique. You’ll have to grab your card, log on to your local library website, and explore the resources available to you. But, while you’re browsing, make sure you keep an eye out for the following services.
There’s nothing quite like holding an actual book in your hands, but renting e-books does have its advantages. Is your library closed because it’s Thanksgiving Day, Labor Day, or just Tuesday (but two o’clock in the morning)? Are you traveling, and therefore too far away for a quick trip to the library? No problem! You can still browse the digital shelves, borrow a few titles, and read to your heart’s content. If you have an e-reader, these books can easily be transferred onto it. If not, you can just read them on a laptop. You may even be able to borrow audiobooks online.
Not only can you borrow e-books, but with Zinio you can also rent digital copies of popular magazines. Depending upon the magazine you choose, you may be able to access recent issues or a variety of past issues. Options include National Geographic, Seventeen, and Newsweek. You can also read your rentals on portable devices.
This service allows you to legally download free music and music videos. There is a weekly limit to how many songs you can acquire, but you can treat those songs like any others that you have purchased (copying to devices, burning onto CDs, etc.). You probably won’t find every song you look up, but there is a decent collection of classics and current chart-toppers to choose from.
This is a language-learning program that uses flashcards – and videos, depending upon the language – to teach grammar and vocabulary. A full library subscription to Mango offers 63 languages, including Hebrew, Scottish Gaelic, and English as a Second Language. It also offers a course in Pirate, if you feel like you need to brush up on that. Mango keeps track of your progress and offers placement tests to help you figure out where in the course to begin.
At lot of libraries subscribe to online test-prep resources, but they may appear under a variety of names. If you’re preparing for college, graduate school, or a career exam, you should definitely see what your library offers. A free, timed practice test that grades itself is a great way to get ready for the real thing!