Saturday, October 11, 2014

Get to Know Your Library (or at least this app)

Being well-read is reward enough - for everyone
Back when life was a little more settled for me, I used to go to the library. A lot. During the winter months, when I hated making the trek any more often than I had to, I discovered and started using more of the online resources. I'm going to highlight some of those resources right here and I will start with my own local library, but much of this pertains to most local libraries:
  • If you live in Alaska, you must get acquainted with everything your library card gives you access to. I'm used to being able to request books from libraries all over Alaska, but a cardholder can actually make a request from libraries all around the world via an Inter-library Loan Request. No kidding. The "World Cat"(catalog) is made up of over 72,000 worldwide libraries. Check on whether or not your library participates in inter-library loans.
  • For you folks wondering what to do to entertain and broaden young minds, check out the story time and other events for small children. Loussac Library has an area specifically set up for youngsters and their is also an area designated for teens.
  • Within the library, there are quiet reading rooms (some set up as work spaces for serious researchers, writers, etc., and others set up for relaxation and comfort), zones with lighted and divided open workstations for folks who want to plug in laptops and other devices. Actually, the library has lots of comfy seating and spaces for just chilling out. A favorite place of mine is the coffee shop. I can go there to plug in, java up and get a snack to enjoy while I read. If the cafe proper is too crowded, I can step right outside the door to a table inside the libary entrance and hang out for hours. Hey - you can even take your own food (just not inside the book areas of the library). In the summer months, I like to sit at one of the tables that are sometimes placed outside the coffee shop. That won`t be happening any time soon...
  • The Alaskana Resources section is a collection including information on the history of the state, the native peoples, the law, etc. There are even yearbook, geneaology, obits and even a wildlife encyclopedia. I'm sure that a focus on local resources is not restricted to Alaska public libraries.
  • For myself, I recently got back into using an application that I can use on my desktop, phone and tablet. It's called Overdrive Media. Overdrive is a resource that every book-lover should know about. I use mine to listen to audio books from my local library's digital collection. Via Overdrive, a user can read or listen to books and watch video. Users can also sync their bookmarks and libraries across devices (though I find this part a bit tricky). 

By the way - Overdrive is something anyone can sign up to download. I just use mine in conjunction with my library card. What I like so much about this app is that I can employ bookmarks and sleep timers. I can view my "bookshelf" when using on my phone or tablet. There's not much I don't like about this media app, especially since I don't need an internet connection to listen to audio once I've downloaded a book. That's great for when I'm at long doc appointments or just stranded somewhere with nothing to do. There is a little bit of a learning curve to get used to syncing and controlling the desktop version. It's worth it though.

Some of the trickier issues I have with Overdrive are not negative at all: I was able to access more books than those supplied by my local library system. I actually was routed to Amazon after a search for a particular book. Interesting, right? Unfotunately, I was on my phone and couldn`t see well enough to complete the process. I will play with that later and let you know how it goes.

Another resource that I find worth having is the trial for Kindle Unlimited. With a $10/mo (okay, $9.99) cost, this works best for folks who don`t use their library as much - or don`t want (or have space for) books lying around. Also, some folks just don`t want an actual copy of most books. In my case, I`m too transient at this point. I do have a collection of a few very cherished books, but Kindle Unlimited is a great idea.

One thing you should check out at your local libary is whether or not they provide patron access to I was pleased that our libraries do allow a certain amount of access to the site. Nice, right?

Anyway, this is all just a heads up about the value of our libraries. They are the one decent resource that`s still free and so wonderful in our communities. Even if you`re not big on books, you might enjoy your library the way lots of Loussac patrons do: to just hang out in a quiet place and think.

Before I close the post, I have to mention the resources for the disabled. My sister, who just underwent eye surgery, has been able to enjoy audio books sent to her (along with a special player) courtesy of the Alaska Talking Book Center. This has been an invaluable resource for her as she does not own (nor is she particularly comfortable with using) a computer. She loves listening to her books and the machine is easy to operate.

Comes with headphones
Since TBC is a state government program, I'm sure that there is a similar resource available in your community