I have always used the library. When I was in first grade, I helped our school librarian, and I can distinctly remember trying to figure out the Dewey Decimal system (I never did, by the way).
When I moved away for college, one of the very first things I did was get my new library card. When I needed a place to study, I went to the university library where I’d sequester myself in a dim basement cubicle so I’d be left alone.
Besides being a place to hide from annoying roommates, the library also has a TON of additional resources. The following are available from my local library, but your library no doubt has similar (or more) of the same resources available.
Interlibrary Loan (ILL)
Your library is part of a large conglomerate of libraries. Using the ILL feature, you can access these other libraries’ books. The one caveat is it’s harder to renew these books, and the late fees are usually pretty steep ($1/day or more).
Library Extension for Chrome
This is a new resource I just learned about. It’s an extension that you can download for Chrome, pick one or more local libraries, and then as you scan the web, it works in the background. When you visit a site that supports the extension, it will tell you if the books you’re browsing are available at your local library!
You can use Overdrive to borrow ebooks and audiobooks. I use it to download books onto my Kindle, and audiobooks onto my phone.
Guides, Permits, Maps
When I found out about Sanborn maps, I about peed myself with delight. And while I’ve never truly looked through the other map and permit resources, it’s good to know they exist.
Historical Newspapers Online
I can’t remember what I was looking for when I signed up for a free 30 day membership to Newspapers.com but lo and behold that same service is available through the library for free!! I can look up old newspapers for historical data, or just to see what an ad from 1916 looked like for shits and giggles.
My library also has access to our current newspaper–without a subscription!
Automotive Diagnostic Devices, Vehicle Manuals
I understand about as much about cars as a child does, but I do know that when my check engine light comes on, I can borrow a diagnostic tool from the library to find out for myself what’s going on (and maybe save myself from being bamboozled by a shady car mechanic). If you’re mechanically inclined, you could also use the library’s manuals to try and repair it yourself.
Additional Bonus Resources!
This is a language learning app that usually has an associated monthly fee but through the library I can access the extended features for free.
You can either pay for a subscription to Consumer Reports, or get it free through your library. Your choice.
(I’m joking – get it for free for crying out loud!)
In my spare time, I take online college courses, and one resource I could’ve used was the test proctoring. At our local university, having a test proctored would cost me $25 a pop. At my library, I could have a librarian do it for free.
The library offers a thousand and one resources for everyone, but especially for writers. What have you used your library for? Comment below!