My close friends and colleagues are probably tired of me plugging public libraries or library resources whenever I get a chance BUT libraries are wonderful community hubs! I blame it on the fact that my mom worked as a librarian intermittently over the years and my dad serves on the library board in my hometown. My current local library is in Chapel Hill, NC, and it is a gem of a library. There are nature trails surrounding the building so I frequently pick up books I’ve placed on hold and then take my dog on a walk. I call that a win-win.
Public libraries are one of the last places in America where you can simply exist for free. The services that public libraries provide not only encompass the distribution of knowledge but they provide access to resources and programs that fill a void in many rural and urban communities. Oftentimes, rural libraries provide the main source of reliable internet access for many residents. Librarians have gradually taken on functions well beyond lending out books–they help local people figure out the complexities of local life.
As it turns out, recreational reading is a simple and cost-effective tool that can help improve mental health. When it comes to stress-relieving strategies cracking a book open may not seem like an intuitive choice, but research shows that recreational reading can reduce stress levels by 68 percent. Reading fully engages the mind and imagination which acts as a meditative activity that can reduce stress and enhance relaxation1. So go ahead and get lost in a good book!
How to Get a Library Card
To get a library card, typically you need a photo ID and proof of address. If you have concerns about the necessary documents visit or call your local library. Oftentimes the librarians can recommend how to get a card without a photo ID.
Once you have your library card, you can begin checking out books right away. My personal favorite item to check out is cookbooks. That way I can review it and decide if it is something I want to purchase for myself. You might be surprised by all of the resources besides books you are able to borrow. Most libraries have several kid-friendly activity options and others allow you to check out items like cameras and mobile hotspots. A perk I really enjoy is that you can also use your library card to access digital books and audiobooks! The most common app that I have seen used is called, Libby. There used to be an app called OverDrive but most libraries have transitioned to Libby. Another option that your library system may offer is called Hoopla. You can download these apps from your device’s app store and then use your library card information to access the digital library affiliated with your library system.
Another added bonus is that many library systems have gotten rid of late fees. I’m certainly not condoning hoarding library items because this could get your account suspended but it is nice to not have to worry about late fees when you forget a due date.
- Why it pays to read. https://www.arts.gov/stories/blog/2015/why-it-pays-read.
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