Saturday, February 19, 2011

Guest Post: Services You Never Knew Libraries Had

This is a guest post by Taraneh Guidry, a writer for TeachStreet. TeachStreet is a website dedicated to providing online and local classes, from math tutors to personal finance classes. So if you’re looking to learn something new, check it out.

Note from Holly: Ok, so most of the people who read my blog are librarians, library school students, and other library staff. This might not be news to you, but what I love about this guest post is that it is from the point of view of a patron. This is what one patron loves about her library, and her perceptions of libraries in general. Pretty good stuff here! Here's the guest post:

(photo via CCAC North Library)

If it's been a while since you've been to the library, then you'll definitely be in for a surprise. Many libraries today offer extensive online catalogs from their website. So even if you are a busy person, you can find what you are looking for on their website and have it held for you to pickup. As a busy working mom, I don't have time to go to the library and look for stuff with a noisy toddler in tow. If I want something though, I find it online first. Sometimes if my local library doesn't have it, I can order it to be delivered for free from another library in the same county, and then I can pick it up at any local library that I want to. It just takes a few minutes and I'm in and out, faster than I can get a cup of coffee at the coffee shop.

Here are some tips on how to get back into the library groove, especially if you think that libraries are boring or not for you.

Are you a movie buff?
Did you know that many local libraries carry new release movies on DVD? They also have older movies that you may have forgotten about, and you can't get them anywhere else. Most of the DVDs can be checked out for a whole week. Save the money on movie rentals for a sweet treat from your local bakery, or something fun that you don't normally get.

Like listening to new music?
Find some CDs and you can play them in your car, or on your computer. Do you want to hear some music before you buy it? Try them out by checking out a CD in a different genre that you don't normally listen to. The King County Library System, which is the local library for us, has a list of 2011 music CDs on order that you can put a hold on, so you can be one of the first to listen to it. Sheryl Crow, G. Love, Jack Johnson, and Zap Mama were just some of the artists listed on the 2011 music on order from this library. Libraries aren't just about Mozart and Beethoven. They have some great variety these days in their music catalog.

Do you want to learn something new?
Have you been interested in learning how to cook, how to dance, a new software program, or a language like French? The library is also a great way to look into different things before you sign up for a class. They have DVDs on learning how to Belly Dance, or fun easy to read books in the "Learn French" from easy to complicated as well. Once you get excited about learning more about something, definitely keep the enthusiasm alive by signing up for a class. (Remember your New Year's resolution?)

Looking for a new career path?
There are some great resources for finding jobs at the library too. Many books on what types of careers fit your personality, or where to get started. Did you just get laid off? The library even has an online resource for how to cope with a job loss. They also have tips on avoiding foreclosure and of course looking for different career options. Make sure to check out local community colleges that have opportunities for worker retraining, where you can get training for free if you've been laid off.

Make sure you expand your horizons this year, and take advantage of all of the fabulous resources available at your local library. You never know, a new career or hobby may be around the corner for you. It just takes a few minutes to open the door to opportunity and knowledge available. Also please talk with your librarian for assistance; many libraries even have a live chat with a librarian feature on their websites.

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