In this modern digital age, why bother with 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.
Why you should use your public library
Why buy books when your area has a free public library? It is public and accessible for all with a library card.
Why use your local library
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".
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. One of the most useful perks (to me) 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.
Your library is waiting for your visit
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:
- genealogy resources
- online journals
- research resources
Virtual media for download
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.
Business and financial resources
Many libraries offer programs hat are targeted at helping people with their finances. This can include:
- Tax help: Many libraries provide on-site tax assistance during tax season, especially for low income people and the elderly. Any library will be able to help you find online tax forms.
- Small business resources: Many public libraries offer training, classes, and materials targeted specifically at small business owners and would-be entrepreneurs. If you need career counseling, resumé help, and even potential job openings in your area, the library staff will be able to assist you.
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 will also be a book club to read along with (or if not, start one).
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.