Life as we knew it has changed – at least for now. We’re all spending most of our time at home for the foreseeable. Even those of us who were already working from home are adapting to a new reality. It’s the perfect time to discover some new ways to fill our days.
Do you like to read? If you do, you can do a lot of it for free. And you can do it from your desktop, laptop or phone by accessing none other than your local public library. Spoiler alert: books are the tip of the iceberg!
Your local library is a gold mine of books and much, much more. Their buildings are closed, but that doesn’t mean the lights are off. Go to your library’s web page and check out their digital partners who offer free streaming services for e-books, audio books, movies, music and more. Here are links to three of my favorites. You’ll need a library card to access these (more on library cards later).
OverDrive Read is a browser-based eBook reader that works on most computers, tablets, and mobile devices. You don’t need an internet connection to read, if you download your book first. OverDrive has some cool features that enable reader to add bookmarks, add notes and highlights, look up words and change fonts.
In order to provide this service, libraries have a daily allowance which puts some limits on use. My librarian told me to try Hoopla early in the day before the library hits its daily limit and to try again the next morning, if I happen to hit a snag.
Each library member has a weekly limit (set by the library) which affects how many books you can download. There’s a counter in the upper right corner of your screen when you’re on their site – it will tell you how many books you have used and how many are remaining.
These are but a few of the digital partners that provide streaming services at my library. You’re likely to find them at yours too, but you may just find ones that you like even better!
Streaming services aren’t the only way to take advantage of the public library system. I spent some virtual time in the Boston Public Library this week, where I leafed through the pages of “The American Pastry Chef”, an old cookbook – “adapted for hotel and steamboat use”. Steamboat use? That caught my attention. So I spent a little time browsing through the recipes and reading tips and notes that took me back to an earlier time in American history – and also made me very hungry. (I sent a recipe to one of my sisters hoping she’ll use some of her extra time to perfect it before my next visit.)
I also read from the memoir of Frederick Douglass. It was horrifying and haunting and poignant. I turned actual pages on my screen from a manuscript that looked authentic – worn and yellowed. This part of my visit to BPL (how locals refer to their library) was a moving experience, because of the subject matter, but also because I imagined myself sitting at one of the tables under the massive dome in the reading room of Boston’s Central library. Definitely not my last visit to BPL!
There are so many libraries and so many books and resources – for many of us an untapped treasure trove waiting to be explored. You’ll need a library card, if you don’t already have one and NOW is the time to get it. Due to the Covid 19 situation, many libraries are allowing you to get them online for now. Free and easy! I renewed my card over the phone today by verifying my info. It took less than five minutes. Under normal circumstances, I would have gone to the library to renew, but for now we can do it without leaving home.
Here’s a link to World Cat https://www.worldcat.org/libraries where you can type in your zip code and get a list of public libraries near you.
And click here to get to the Boston Public Library https://www.bpl.org/