Using your library card-from home?
Hanging out in the library has always been something that I found myself doing. I went from taking home stacks of chapter books in elementary school, to checking out books to read while I waited at the bus stop in high school, to catching a quick nap on one of the couches on the bottom floor of the Sonoma State library while I worked through the night on papers. Eventually I made it to a place where I actually got paid to spend time going through the shelves, working as a secondary school library technician.
I could spend all day in just these stacks alone.
Both our public libraries and school libraries serve a vital purpose to the cities they serve, big and small. You go to the library to learn, connect with your community, read books, or access the internet. The best part of this is that it’s all free and accessible to everyone!
So when Covid-19 arrived in the United States and libraries were forced to shut down, those of us in information services had to adapt quickly to take what we could into the virtual world. Some librarians have even used video games to create virtual library spaces for their patrons; it’s especially popular among the teen and young adult library crowd. Check out this blog to see how librarians used the video game Animal Crossing to make virtual library spaces!
And even before the library building was locked for indefinite periods, our public library systems were home to incredible online learning resources, as well as entertainment.
If you have access to a library and a library card, you’re in luck. That number unlocks a multitude of audiobooks, e-books, and free online courses that teach anything from a second language to marketing strategies to calculus. (If I were to ever take a math class again, I would only do it to prove to myself that I could.) You can also use it to stream media on video platforms such as Canopy, and download audiobooks or e-books!
Go on to your library’s website, and have a look around to see if there’s anything that interests you. Most resources will be available to you once you type in the library card number and a PIN code/password if it’s applicable. Some resources may ask for further login information such as your name and email, but I just use the email address I already have associated with the library branch.
If you don’t have a library card but are now thinking about getting one after reading this blog (checkmate, people who like to learn things), your library branch may have online card registration. Since I’m moving up to Jackson County in about a month, I’m going to get my new library card online once I have an address.
Public and academic libraries are also an incredible technology resource for their communities. It is estimated that 19 million Americans do not have internet access in their homes; libraries bridge this gap by checking out mobile internet hotspots to their patrons. The hotspots work by connecting to cell towers and using data to create a wifi signal; for people in rural areas who aren’t able to install satellite internet in their homes, these little devices can be a lifeline to staying connected. I’ve had students who live in the valleys of wine country rely on our hotspots because it’s impossible for anyone to have wifi out there! If you find yourself in a position of not being able to access your usual source of internet that may be outside your home, it could be worth it to reach out to your local library and see if they have any devices available for you.
Source for hotspot information: American Library Association.
Whether you already have a stack of books on your counter from the library or you’ve only ever driven past the building, it’s never too late to get your card and explore what’s out there. And if your local librarians and library assistants are anything like me, they’ll be more than happy to show you around-whether that’s in person or through a chat box. 🙂