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Resource Spotlight: Your Local Library

To say that I read a lot of books would be an understatement on par with saying that blue whales are large animals.

I read with my students, especially the younger ones. I read to find books to suggest to students. I read for my own enjoyment, both fiction and non-fiction. I read a lot of books, but I seldom buy books. Buying a copy of every book I read would not only be financially foolish, it would be physically impossible, given the size of my house.

The absolute best resource for books (as well as many other amenities), are local public libraries. Libraries give us the opportunity to discover new books entirely by accident, or to get recommendations from true superheroes: librarians. Libraries also have book clubs for children and adults. Most libraries also have a section for checking out movies, and at some, you can check out garden or kitchen tools. This is also the place to go for summer reading programs and special events.

To get a library card for yourself or your child , you need to go to the circulation desk with documentation that shows that you live in the same city where the library is. Getting their own library card is a very big deal for many children, and can be a great activity to share. Libraries are funded through property taxes, so you can only get a card in the city where you live. Happily, many libraries have reciprocal agreements with other nearby facilities, so once you have a card from your home library, you can also visit and check books out from other libraries in the same network.

These days, most libraries let you manage your account digitally, which makes it even more convenient. Once you log in to the system, you can put a book on hold, so that it’s available for you to pick up. Of course, if the book is already checked out to someone else, you’ll have to wait for it to be returned. Some very popular books have waiting lists that can stretch for weeks.

You can also use the digital system to see when your holds are available, and renew books that are on the verge of being overdue. Many libraries charge fines if a book isn’t returned after a set amount of time, but this practice is diminishing.

Most libraries also have an app to let you check out and read books on your phone. For example, many libraries provide digital titles via the Libby app (you can find it on the App Store on Apple phones and in Google Play store on Android devices). Libby is free, but you do have to sign up with your library card, and the titles available are chosen by each library.

Although the physical feel of reading a book is enjoyable, the portable practicality and convenience of having multiple books on your phone can’t be beat. Note that not all books in the library will be available on the app, and sometimes there is a waiting list, even for digital versions of books.

I love books and reading. I also love the option of being able to read as many books as I like for free, and I encourage everyone to take advantage of their public library.


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