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Why you should use your public library

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why use the public library
In this modern digital age, one might ask: why use the public library? A library is more than books on a shelf. It is a resource that enriches the entire community in which it exists where you will find not only books but a community with social interaction. All you need to access your library is a valid library card.

Rather the question should be, why buy books when your area has a free public library? It is publicly accessible for all with a library card. If you haven't been to the library lately, dig out your library card to check out a copy of the latest bestseller, or take the time to re-read an old favourite. Best of all, it's free! Don't have a library card? There is no better time than now to get one.

It's free!

If you have a card for your local library, you can use its resources for free. That includes computers, WiFi, and media beyond books -- CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, even ebooks. Even more importantly, you will have access to library programming with classes for both adult and children. If you are on a tight budget, you can't do better than "free".

Apply for a library card online

In general all that is needed is to fill out an online form to establish that you live within the library's district. The form will ask for name, address, and birthdate. After submitting the form, head over to the library at your convenience to pick up your new card. You will probably need to show ID at the main counter to establish that your submitted form matches the information on your ID.

Apply for a library card in person

Applying in person is even easier than applying online. Simply bring your ID to the main counter and tell the librarian that you would like a library card. For an adult, any of the following forms of ID would be accepted at most libraries:

The important thing about the ID is that it shows your name and current address. If your address is outside the boundaries of the library's district can acquire a library card for a small fee. This fee is roughly the equivalent of a tax bill for a resident of the district. Once the fee has been paid however, all members of that household should gain access to the library.

For a child who is under the age of 18, you will need to sign some paperwork to allow him or her to get a library card. This means you will be responsible for any books your children check out from the library. You can however restrict your child's access to certain sections of the library. Children's library cards will typically need to be renewed every year or two.

Note: If you lose your card, notify the librarian as soon as possible. Library cards can be replaced for a nominal fee.

More than just pop fiction

While you can certainly find all the popular fiction books at your local public library, there is a whole world of books beyond that.

For non-fiction aficionados, sections to check would be computer science (000s), philosophy (100s), occult (133s), psychology (155s), general religion (200s), classical religion (290s), social science (300s), folklore (390s), science (500s), plants (580s), animals (590s), health (610s), and arts (700s). The children's section will also have many storybooks and fairy tales that may be of interest for the younger set.

One of the most useful perks of a library card is interlibrary loan. If your library doesn't have it, they can arrange to borrow it from another library. You have your entire library system at your fingertips with interlibrary loan. This is invaluable for those who read a lot and tend to research a particular subject exhaustively. Just remember to return library books in a timely manner!

How to request a book through interlibrary loan

Interlibrary loan is a system in which library patrons can request a copy of a book from another library within that system. The home library places the request, then makes the book available to the patron once it arrives.

Depending on the library system, patrons may also be able to borrow audio and video recordings, ebooks, sheet music, and microfiche in addition to books. Your library card grants you access to such things as audiobooks and ebooks. In many cases, you don't even require a visit to the library to download virtual media.

The specific form required for a request depends on the library system. In some areas with a well-connected computer network it may be possible to request books directly from other libraries within that system via the computer network.

In other areas (typically more rural area), there is an actual paper form to fill out with information such as the book's title, author, and code. Once the form has been completed, it may be turned in at the main counter for a librarian to place the request for that book.

After placing an interlibrary loan request, one of two things may happen:

Note: Requests for rare or otherwise fragile items may take longer to complete (up to several weeks) due to transportation issues.

Not all library systems offer the same eBook selections, even though they all access the same eBook provider. If you find the selection through your library system is less than ideal, you may want to consider obtaining a non-resident library card from a larger library system. Most libraries charge a fee for a non-resident card, but if you read a lot it might still end up cheaper than purchasing the books your library does not have available. Remember, with eBooks you don't need to borrow or return them in person so you could consider borrowing books from a library in a city or metro area. Check with the library on their non-resident library card policy and how you can obtain one.

Because borrowing eBooks from the library is done via the library system's web catalog, the specific directions on finding books and checking them out will vary depending on the way the library has designed their web page. Consult your library for specific instructions on navigating their web catalog.

The loan period for the eBook will vary depending on the policy of your particular library system. Once the book is due, it will "self-destruct", so to speak, and you will be unable to read it without re-borrowing it.

To borrow ebooks from the library, you will need:

Once you have those ready, you can download an ebook:

  1. Login to your library's web catalog via your computer.
  2. Search their eBook catalog and borrow an eBook that you find interesting.
  3. You will be given the option to download the book to your computer. When the dialog box pops up, select the option to Open file with Adobe Digital Editions.
  4. The book you downloaded will appear in the library section of Adobe Digital Editions.
  5. Connect your eReader to your computer once you have confirmed that it is compatible with Overdrive .
  6. You will be prompted to authorize the eReader to access Adobe Digital Editions. You will also need an Adobe ID to complete the authorization process. You will be prompted to setup an Adobe ID if you don't have one.
  7. When you have completed the authorization process, your eReader will appear on the lower left side of the screen on Adobe Digital Editions.
  8. Click on the book in the library section of Adobe Digital Editions, and drag it over the icon representing your eReader. There should be a green dot type icon that appears. Release your mouse button.
  9. A dialogue should appear saying the file is transferring.
  10. Finally, click on the icon for your eReader to confirm the book you transferred is now listed in your eReader's library.

Note: This process works for an iPad, a Kindle (with your Amazon login information), and a Nook in addition to any device such as a Chromebook which has the appropriate app installed.

Online resources

Today's library is not just books on shelves. By using the library's computers, you can access subscription-based services containing information that you won't be able to access for free on the Internet. This includes:

Business and financial resources

Many libraries offer programs hat are targeted at helping people with their finances. This can include:

The librarians

Librarians today are a far cry from a shushing spinster. Your local librarian can not only help you locate any information the library but can also direct you to further information beyond the library's doors. Get to know your librarian and they will get to know your book likes and dislikes -- and will be happy to make recommendations to frequent library visitors. Which brings us to ....

Finding your next "good read"

Librarians will often suggest books based on your past reading habits once they get know you. Befriending your local librarian will ensure a steady stream of fresh reading material attuned to your specific tastes.

Children and adult programming

Your area library will have a summer reading program for children, generally grouped by age. Get them hooked on books when young, and you will create a reader for life. For adults you can inquire about classes on using the library's computers (word processing, spreadsheets, email, etc). There may also be a book club to read along with (or if not, start one).

caring for a book club To start a book club, decide on a genre, then set a meeting schedule. Do you all like sci-fi? Spiritual texts? Bathroom funnies? Ideally a book club should be a meeting of like-minded book readers, and even better if everyone interested can meet at a set day and time. Once that is settled, it's just a matter of reading the select book and attending book club meetings.

Tip #1: Promote the book club if possible. Ask at local coffee shops, bookstores, and the library about posting flyers about book club meetings. This is a good way to gain new members who might enjoy this particular book.






Tip #2: Remember to give back to the community. With enough members in the club, there should be resources and to spare. Ask for volunteers to tutor local children, or collect toward a scholarship fund for a local school. This will also help make your club more "accessible" and public.

Support your library in a big way

The more the library is used, the more resources can be requested in your town or village to support that usage. There are government funds set aside to support libraries so long as they are being used. It isn't just a place for the well to do who can afford access. Everyone is welcome at the library, and libraries are a great place to make friends with like-minded people of every part of society.

Furthermore, the library provides a safe place for underprivileged children in low-income areas to go after school. This can make all the difference for a young child.

What to do with an overdue library book

what to do with overdue library books Every library user will forget to return a book at some point in their lives. Most locate the overdue book, return it, pay their fines, and continue enjoying the library. Some however maintain possession of the book in question, fearing to return it in light of the accumulating fines.

After a certain amount of time passes, the library considers the book lost and replaces it if the budget allows. A few missing books do make their way back to the library eventually -- discovered when preparing for a move, or found as part of the borrower's estate. Many books never do return to their libraries, the information lost forever.

Overdue books are a serious issue for libraries. The library's budget often cannot be stretched enough to replace missing books in addition to acquiring new titles, so other people who might like to read that missing volume must do without.

The important thing is to balance an appropriate dollar amount of fees for each instance of an overdue library book with what the borrower can reasonably manage to pay.

My library book is overdue. Now what?


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