Five Ways to Access Content for Free!

Ally's words of wisdom

Now that I’ve reeled you in with my flashy title, I shall reveal how to access content for free: The library!

bookshelves-at-the-library-361x544As a librarian, one of the major issues I face every day is the lack of knowledge about library resources. Every library that I know has a range of digital and physical resources available to patrons for free. While I cannot speak for your library, I can vaguely speak for libraries in general.

The below points are five resources and ways in which you can access content for free through your local library.

5. Books.

This may feel like a bit of a cop out but I face people’s surprise about this everyday. Often it is accompanied by the realisation that we have a book in the catalogue that they have already paid over $50 for, despite us having two copies.

Libraries tend to offer both fiction and non fiction books. You might not find a huge selection of fiction books in a university or college library but for a mixture of both, probably head towards your local public library. Targeted audiences such as children, young adult, adult, and people who need large print books tend to have their own sections and books. Some libraries may even have individual sections for genres such as romance, westerns, science fiction/fantasy, and for the lucky people, even graphic novels.

So just to reiterate, libraries have books!

That you can take home, for free!!

I mean, as long as you have a library card – please do not steal books from libraries.

4. Magazines.

People may not realise it but in addition to books, libraries also stock a whole range of items. Libraries may carry CDs, DVDs, books, newspapers, study guides, journals, as well as magazines.

I mention magazines in this list, as people who read magazines tend to spend a fair amount of money on subscriptions. For the more popular magazines, you can be almost guaranteed to find them available in the library.

In addition to having physical magazines available for loan, you can hopefully have access to digital magazines. Digital magazines are usually available through an app, and while you don’t get to hold the magazines in your hand, you do get to experience it on your device. I do enjoy digital magazines, as the app that my library uses, emails patrons when a new or next magazine is available for download.forbes_magazine_reading_business_kindle_ereader_technology-860753.jpg!d

If you are struggling with money, or have a number of magazines subscriptions, I would 100% recommended taking a trip to your library or library website, and seeing what they have to offer.

3. E-Books.

When I sign people up to the library, I always make a point to talk about and show them our digital collection. A lot of the feedback we receive from patron surveys, is that we need more digital content, or that we don’t have any online content at all. As is often the case, patrons are simply not aware of the all the ways they can engage with the library online.

So with this in mind, eBooks are huge way in which libraries provide free content to patrons. I would highly recommend checking out your libraries website and seeing the many different ways you can access eBooks.

Ebooks can be accessed in a number of ways, you can read them on your desktop computer, on your tablet, or even on your phone. A lot of the times you will need access to the internet to download the books, or apps you need to access the content, however another service that your library may have is free wifi.

2. Educational resources.

Each library service is different and each library allows you access to different services. A lot of the times however, you will find a wealth of resources that are aimed towards educational purposes. Whether this is access to online journals, a range of newspapers, different types of databases, reference material, local history, family history, or language resources, libraries have the potential to offer you a variety of educational resources.

The library that I work at provides an interactive language learning application similar to Duolingo. When people come into the library looking for language CDs or books, I am always quick to show them our online app as I find, the interactive nature of the app helps me and hopefully them, retain information.

My above example is just one possible educational resource that libraries have available for patrons. Pop into your local library or onto their website and explore what educational resources are available for you for free!

1. Audiobooks and eAudiobooks.

Audiobooks and eAudiobooks place high on the list as they make books and information incredibly accessible. I love reading but there are people who don’t enjoy it,  don’t feel confident enough to read a book, or who are not physically able to read text, and this is where the true power of an audiobook lies.

(e)Audiobooks allow people to access stories and information in a way that takes the stress and stigma away from people who cannot read or do not enjoy reading. Simply by playing a CD or downloading an app, people can listen to stories at home, while in a car, while cooking, or even while working. Audiobooks have the ability to allow people to enjoy fictions novels or access to nonfiction.

On a side note, and this is purely one based on functionality, there is an advantage to listening to eAudiobooks over Audiobooks. This comes simply from the fact that you do not have to rely on physical CDs. The nature of borrowing audiobooks from a library is that sometimes they will be damaged. CDs and DVDs are a terrible format for borrowing as we are reliant on patrons treating items with care, it is a heartbreaking part of working in a library that I often have to discard an item after only one or two uses as the discs are so scratched that they cannot work.

When using an online resource such as eAudiobooks, you do not have to worry about the quality of the item you are using, you will never be half way through a novel and realise you can’t listen to the rest as the disc is too damaged to play. The trade off however is the use of the internet, so if you do not have access to this, physical audiobooks are still for you!

Administrative issues aside, (e)Audiobooks have made it to the number one spot as I feel they make libraries accessible. You might not be the biggest fan of reading or are able to read, but by being able to listen to a book you suddenly have access to a large amount of content that you were missing out on.

audiobook-3106985_1280For me (e)Audiobooks have the power to be the great equaliser as they allow people to read through listening.

Now I’m not telling you to cancel your subscription to Audible but I am urging you to check out what is available to you through your library. You could potentially stand to save some money.

Final Thoughts.

Outside of these five examples are a whole range of other resources that could potentially be available to you from your local library. In a lot of respects I have only touched on a small amount of resources, there is the potential to have thousands of free resources available to you.

I implore you to, if not enter your public library, check out their website. I am sure you will find a range of content available to you through the power of a library card.

I ask you, why stop at your local library? Check out your state and national library – You never know what you’ll find!


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