April 3-9 is National Library Week in 2022! We’ll be celebrating all week long with library-related posts. Today we focus on some services that even regularly library patrons may not be aware of, but could benefit from. Leave your secret library tips in the comments below.
State residents may be eligible for a state library card.
Many states in the U.S. have one library where every resident of the state can apply for an online card and get access to digital materials (or physical, if you live close enough). So if you are not satisfied with your local collection, see what other options are available to you.
College students can sign up for a public library card in the location where they attend school.
College students often mistakenly believe that they can only use their hometown library. Public libraries, however, typically allow college students to apply for a card, even if it is only a temporary or student one. Usually showing up to the library with photo ID and a piece of official mail with the student’s college mailing address is all that is needed to obtain a card.
Also read: How to Access YA Books While at College
Interlibrary loan allows U.S. library users can request books from across the country.
If you don’t like the collection your library has, ask about how to request a book through ILL (interlibrary loan). Most libraries in the U.S. offer this service where they can have books from all over the country mailed to your local library for checkout.
Learn more about how interlibrary loans work.
Library users can suggest books for the library to purchase.
If you do not see the title you want available at your library, submit a purchase request and see if they will buy a copy for you. Libraries do have collection policies (which usually say something about buying up-to-date and credible materials) so they may not buy everything suggested–but most try to.
Library users can place a book on hold before it is available on the shelf.
Want to be among the first to get that new release? Search the online catalog for the title before the release date. If it pops up, but has a tag such as, “On order,” or, “Being cataloged,” that means the book is coming soon–and you can place a hold on it now! Alternatively, if you want a new release, but do not see it in the catalog at all, you can try suggesting it as a purchase (see above). Libraries will often automatically put any book you suggested for purchase on hold for you.
The information you are searching for might be available through an online database.
If you have not scrolled through your library’s website recently, check out their online database offerings. This is where you can find things like access to newspapers, family genealogy resources, standardized test prep (for tests like the SAT or ACT, but also for career tests), tutorials on how to use Microsoft Office, college scholarship information, academic databases for homework assignments, help passing the U.S. citizenship test, even potentially online tutoring or homework help. Just take a look one day. What you find might surprise you.
The public can attend library board meetings–or access the board minutes online.
Interested in how much your library is spending? Want to know if the staff got a cost of living raise this year? Thinking about offering suggestions on how the library can improve? Check your library’s website to see when the next board meeting is, and then show up! There is generally a public comment period where you can offer feedback, if you want. Or, if you do not have the ability to show up in person, keep informed by checking your library’s website for the board meeting minutes.
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