Why everyone should visit libraries more often

Two of the keys to the environmental movement are reducing the number of new items we produce, then reusing those items as much as possible. Libraries are uniquely designed to help with both of these concepts. And libraries help to foster a sense of community, which is needed now more than ever as we collectively tackle the problem of climate change.

Anyone who hasn’t set foot in a library since high school will be delighted to discover the wealth of items to borrow and the free activities to do. Tikkurila Library in Vantaa, Finland, made headlines in 2016 for installing a soundproof karaoke room. In 2018, one of the branches of the New York Public Library attracted attention for starting to lend out ties, handbags and briefcases to people heading to job interviews and other events requiring professional attire.

You might not be able to borrow a tie from your local library, or to sing karaoke favourites there, but you’ll probably be surprised to discover just how many of the following activities you can do. Plus, many libraries offer these items and services in multiple languages.

What are you waiting for? Your library adventure starts now.

  1. Borrow books, magazines, newspapers, journals and zines. Many are also available in digital format, which gives you the convenience of not having to leave your home.
  2. Borrow movies and TV shows. DVDs are still the standard, but more and more libraries also offer free streaming services.
  3. Borrow music and audiobooks. Countless CDs are available, and some libraries also offer downloadable or streaming audio.
  4. Borrow artwork to display temporarily in your home or business.
  5. Borrow historical photographs and maps.historical mapPhoto by LSE Library on Unsplash
  6. Borrow taxidermy and animal skeletons. Stuffed owls were in high demand back when Harry Potter parties were all the rage.
  7. Borrow hobby equipment for sewing, knitting, baking, fishing, gardening, photography, sports, exercise, music and more.
  8. Borrow scientific equipment such as telescopes and microscopes.
  9. Borrow electronic devices such as tablets and laptops.
  10. Borrow items for children such as board games, toys, puppets and dolls.scrabblePhoto by Clarissa Watson on Unsplash
  11. Borrow Halloween costumes and Santa Claus suits.
  12. Borrow power tools for DIY home-improvement projects.
  13. Borrow a pass to local museums and parks. These passes are immensely popular, so check with your library if they can be reserved ahead of time.
  14. “Borrow” a human. The concept of the Human Library originated in Copenhagen, Denmark, and now many libraries around the world offer patrons the chance to talk to a person they might not have the opportunity to meet in everyday life. The aim is to promote diversity and inclusion by breaking down biases and prejudices.
  15. Use an internet-connected computer.libraryPhoto by Gabriel Sollmann on Unsplash
  16. Attend a special event such as an author reading or panel discussion. Many such events have been moved online during the pandemic.
  17. Bring the kids in for storytime.
  18. Get your writing critiqued by a writer in residence.
  19. Attend a book club with other bibliophiles.
  20. Attend a film screening, which is often followed by a thought-provoking discussion of the movie.moviePhoto by Denise Jans on Unsplash
  21. Take a class or workshop on everything from podcasting and video editing to gardening and composting.
  22. Learn to speak another language using books, audio recordings, classes, in-person meet-ups for conversation practise and more.
  23. Get help with a job search through resources such as resume-writing classes, job databases and career-related workshops.
  24. Use on-site recording studios to produce professional-quality audio and video.
  25. Use on-site equipment to convert photographs, cassettes and videotapes into digital formats and to edit those digital files.
  26. Use on-site equipment to self-publish an e-book.
  27. Get help researching a family tree.
  28. Get access to rooms for meetings, music practise and more.
  29. Discover a quiet place to work. In addition to study rooms, some libraries have tranquil green spaces such as rooftop gardens. And unlike in a coffee shop, you don’t have to purchase an overpriced drink and snack in order to use the facilities.library readingPhoto by Praveen Gupta on Unsplash