I can’t imagine anyone not having a library card. When you were young, we’d go to the library regularly to check out bags full of books. Before taking off for a long car trip, we’d load up on books on tape or later, books on CD.
Spending time flipping through books, looking at displays and selecting bookmarks provided a good opportunity to relax after school or escape the heat on a summer afternoon. Going to the library was always a treat.
Now I use the library much differently. Today I walked into the doors of a library for the first time in over nine months when we went to the Micanopy Branch of the Alachua County Library, and I left without checking out a single item. The visit today was simply to renew my library card. Yes, my Alachua County library card. One of three library cards I carry in my wallet.
Did you know you most counties in Florida have agreements with surrounding counties to provide library services to their residents? As a Marion County resident, I have a card for the libraries in my home county, and in addition to my Alachua County card, I also have one for Lake County. In fact, the last time I stepped inside a library, it was the one closest to our house. One in Lake County where I did check out books before attending a presentation on the history of cattle ranching in Florida.
Most of my library use today doesn’t require leaving home. I check one digital books that are magically sent to my Kindle and audiobooks (no more cassettes or CDs) that I listen to on my phone and best of all, magazines, dozens of magazines every month, that I read on my Kindle or iPad. It’s even possible to download music. And with different resources available in each county, the choices seem to be endless.
If your library card isn’t up-to-date, go in and renew it, and then start exploring all of the digital resources. And then go to your neighboring counties to add to your library card collection.
I may have to stop in a branch of the Citrus County Library this summer. Are four library cards too many?
As you were growing up, we made frequent visits to the library. In fact, we checked out so many books it wasn’t unusual to conduct scavenger hunts in the house, car, and camper to locate everything we’d borrowed. You may remember visiting libraries not only in Ocala, but throughout the state and even in other states. We traveled to Alachua County to see Jon Sciezka, a favorite author. We visited libraries in Denver, Washington, DC, and New York City while on vacation. And how many times did we take a break from the afternoon sun by spending an hour or two in the library in Sanibel reading or using their computers? In fact last summer I continued this practice spending time in the public libraries of both Taos and Santa Fe accessing their free Wi-Fi to locate information for our trip.
If you haven’t been to your local library recently, you may want to check it out. This is not the library of your childhood. Sure you can still check out books, audiobooks, and movies. You can still read newspapers and magazines. And you can still conduct research, but you can do so much more. Go to the library to use their computer or WiFi. Use their databases to conduct research on your family tree, purchases, or a job search. Ask a librarian. They offer free expert help. Join a book club or attend a presentation. And of course, read…read a book, magazine, or newspaper in the library.
Top reasons to use your public library:
Libraries provide users an opportunity to “go green”. By borrowing materials instead of making purchases, you get a gold star for reusing resources.
Libraries help you save money! Buy fewer books, magazines, newspapers, CDs, and DVDs. In fact, some libraries even have passes to museums or zoos that can be checked out!
Did you know you don’t have to physically visit the library to access many of the benefits provided? From the comfort of your home you can put books on hold or renew those you’ve checked out. You have 24 hour online access to dozens of databases. And I’ve found some new resources that you absolutely must investigate:
- Freading, Open Library, OverDrive – allow patrons to download free ebooks, with well over a million titles from which to choose.
- One Click – access to thousands of free audiobook downloads.
- Zinio – over 100 magazine titles can be downloaded to a variety of reading devices at no cost. (I may have to reconsider my Next Issue subscription.)
- Freegal – a database of over one million songs which patrons can download for their personal use. At the rate of three downloads per week, you can amass a pretty significant music collection over the course of a year!
Do yourself a favor! Get a library card…and use it!