While you may need to appear in person to receive your card, once you have it, a world of digital resources is now available to you. Databases, academic abstracts, librarians as top-notch research specialists – all available to you, and for free almost everywhere.
I Mean Everywhere
Don’t assume that you’re limited to the library nearest you. Many large city libraries don’t require you live in that city. San Francisco’s Public Library doesn’t care where you live. (Next trip, pick one up!) Who is eligible for a card at any library is an easy look-up on their web site.
The Resources are Endless
Your local library has more to offer you than you think. Ask. Librarians as a rule want to answer your questions with, “Yes, we can help!”
- If you’re a reader looking for books, audio books, CDs, DVDs or ebooks your local doesn’t carry, ask how to borrow them from their larger network.
- If you’re a writer looking for references, explain what you’re trying to achieve and let the professional explain how she’d get there.
- Ask for reading lists on your genres and subjects.
- Ask your local to stock locally the books you’re having to special request.
- Ask. Just ask.
- Digital collections of historic photographs, maps, fine art, first folios – all available from libraries. Sometimes you need a library card, sometimes you don’t. The New York Public Library’s digital photograph archives are open to all, for example. The NYPL also has a massive public domain collection of photographs, vintage art and advertising and more.
Your taxes pay for this, use it, or they’ll spend your tax money on something that isn’t a major community resource and a champion of literacy and full of fierce defenders of your right to read whatever you want in privacy.
Every time you check out a library book it tells the system you want more books like that. You are a part of your library’s community. It should carry books in your areas of interest. If your library doesn’t have a book you want to read, ask them to get it for you, even if that means buying it and putting on the shelf for you and everybody else.
Batgirl was a librarian. And there are lots of awesome librarians cranking some of the best stories out there.