Thursday, January 15, 2009

Using Your Public Library

Using Your Public Library

Okay, you have 1000 interests. You want to be as self sufficient as possible. You have a limited budget. Sound familiar? It does to me. That is why I'm about to give you the most sage advice that I ever will on this blog. Use your local public library. Be very nice to your friendly librarians and find out all the incredible resources that library has to offer. You may be very surprised to find out what you can find out there. It is probably the most effective budgeting device known to us Americans.

First, find your local library. In case you are a little rusty about who is near you, this link will help you out. Now you know what library to go to, let's talk about some things you can find there.

Libraries are working very hard to be relevant in this digital and some say post-written culture. So, you will find most libraries will have internet based computers for you to use. If you are on a tight budget this means you could read this blog from your local library, without needing that computer at home. On this computer, they will also have access to a wealth of information via databases. My local library has a couple hundred databases that it pays for and I get to have access to them all for free (well, let's just say i've prepaid.) On these databases, you can learn foreign languages, search encyclopedias, hunt for articles in all the large newspapers, search genealogy data, get homework help and I could go on and on. If your library is like mine, you can access most all of these databases in your pjs with a hot chocolate in front of you from home. Take a few minutes and find out what databases your library has access to and use this to add to your own knowledge database.

Your library will also have music cds, dvds (often for free or a very low price), audio books, magazine subscriptions and BOOKS. Please, don't forget the books. This is where you will find a lot of information about becoming self sufficient. Check these books out, peruse them. If you fall in love with them and just need to keep checking them out - then buy them. Have your local library staff show you how to search for books. Most libraries are pooling resources and often have reciprical lending agreements with other libraries. What this means for you is that almost any book you want your library can get for you, even if it is not on their shelves. At my library, they do this through WorldCat. There is a worldcat search feature on their homepage. I look for the book I want and request it through an interlibrary loan. This book may come all the way across the country and be waiting for me - little ole' me at my library's front desk. Then I check it out and bring it home. This is a super cool feature of lots of libraries that you should not underestimate. Your local library may not have the new cutting edge books on permaculture, vegan cooking, hydroponic gardening or running your car on veggie oil, but other libraries do. And you can still have access to them.

It is so important that we learn to share resources, information and tools. Libraries are a terrific way to do that. Check your local library out and with a little sweet talking with those that work there, you'll be using that library like the well-oiled machine that it is.

Stay tuned, as this blog progresses I'll be sharing with you some of my favorite books. Be sure to leave comments that tell me your favorite ways to use your local library and what your favorite books are.


  1. If you are not a librarian then you are the dream patron! One of the coolest things the library does is provide access to downloadable audiobooks. Not the most intuitive process, but it's still very cool.

  2. Great suggestion, i totally forgot about online audiobook downloads. Thanks!