Remember life before iPads, email and Words with Friends people actually used to sit in one place and read books? Yes, it’s a bit of a foggy memory for me too. Books used to represent an adventure waiting for you to unfold. Now tablets and mobile devices literally give you the world at your fingertips.
This week I want to share with you my love of the library. Given my short attention span it fills my quest for my ever-changing interests. Many librarians have told me “Wow, you must really love music” as I’m checking out 20 cds or “Ma’am we have a limit of how many you can take home”!
I’ve had 3 big moves in the past few years so I’ve been able to compare features from several libraries. Eight years ago I was shocked to walk into my local New Jersey library and find current DVDs, music cds from top 40 to opera and a section of just New York Times best selling books. I thought this is my tax dollars at work! Anyone who has ever paid property taxes in New Jersey can attest, sometimes garbage pick up twice a week just isn’t enough to feel like your absorbent taxes are going to something that is actually going to enhance your life.
When I moved to Washington DC I was excited to find out I could take hundreds of classes online for free with a real instructor and homework! The classes range from “How to be a Life Coach” to “Becoming a Property Manager”. Check with your library to see if they are a member of the www.universalclass.com website.
My next library experience was in North Carolina, I learned how to download books onto my iPad with an app called Overdrive. Digital books were especially convenient when I went to Morocco, who wants to carry a month’s worth of books in a bag? They have thousands of books available in digital form as well as audio books. At first I found it a little awkward to read on the iPad but eventually I got used to it. You can also change the background to sepia, which is easier on the eyes, and adjust the type size, font and brightness. The books can be checked out for 21 days and automatically delete when it’s time to return them. If you check out the same book in the future, the app will remember where you left off. Every couple months I’ll sit down at my computer login to my library account and compare the digital download lists to the New York Times best seller lists. There is often a wait for the really popular and new titles. I waited about 3 months for Gone Girl. However there are still hundreds that are available for immediate download. I read more now than I ever have.
I also learned to love audio books also available for free on Overdrive. They are perfect for long drives in the car or during my daily 5-mile walks. Sometimes top 40 music seems more like the top 10!
I feel it’s only fair to mention the dark side of the library and maybe why some people stopped going in the first place! Overdue fines! I once had a fine of 17 dollars for a few DVDs and books that I took on vacation. In the long run I feel like 17 dollars is much less than what I would have spent if I purchased them all. However, in the digital age you can always renew online. The only time I wasn’t able to renew my books or media online was when someone else was on the waiting list.
So how do you take advantage of all these amazing (and free) things at your library? To get a library card you need a current drivers license with your local address, or if you just moved bring in a utility bill with your name and address along with a photo id. Don’t forget to ask about the digital media the library offers. When I signed up for digital book downloads I had to create a pin number at the library. This is much easier to do when you are at the library rather than sitting at home ready to read some digital books.