Part 2: 10 Ways to Pursue Self-Improvement at Your Library… Without Picking Up a Book

This is second installment of a 2-part series, each with 5 ways to pursue self-improvement at your library without picking up a book. Click here to read Part 1!

Why take advantage of the library for self- improvement?

Libraries are much more than just books. Few people know about the many fun and educational services offered by public libraries everywhere that don’t involve books or reading. Self-improvement doesn’t have to cost any money if you seek out solutions at your public library.  Immersing yourself in free learning opportunities only requires a library card and some curiosity.

Read ways 1-5 to pursue self-improvement at your library without picking up a book here


6. Community Bulletin Boards

This activity can easily be coupled with any other suggestion on this list, as all it requires is a visit to your library. Community bulletin boards are usually posted in the lobby or doorway of public libraries. These are excellent areas to find out about activities going on in the area, groups that meet within the community, and events that are happening at the library itself. In addition, you can also find pamphlets for all kinds of free resources, important information regarding alerts or things to be cautious about in the community, and info about other government-funded organizations available for public use. At my library, I have found information on being aware of ticks and Lyme disease, hotlines for eating disorders, outdoor trail maps, and posters for concert fundraisers.


7. Audiobook lectures

Do you spend a lot of your time driving? Or cooking? Or cleaning? Those are all times I enjoy listening to recorded lectures that I’ve checked out from my library. There’s no better time to learn by listening than when you’re trapped in the car on your daily commute or spending countless hours per week cooking and cleaning. Recorded university lectures on a multitude of subjects can be checked out, and some even come with supplementary workbooks. Some topics include all types of history, physics, religion, astronomy, and languages.


8. Art exhibits

As always, this may not apply to your library as every one has different offerings, but many do display the work of local artists or host traveling art galleries. While many might not think looking at art is “learning” in the traditional sense, it still exposes you to viewpoints and perceptions other than your own. The Portland Public Library in Maine recently hosted an exhibit titled Home: Reflections on Place. “Home is an art exhibit of work by immigrants to Maine who have been asked to reflect on the idea of “home” as individuals who have left one home and come to another.  Leaving one’s home and finding another and assimilating ideas of family, culture and community in a new place are part of the immigrant experience. We asked each artist in this exhibit to document this experience and reflect on what home is.” Art exhibits that are presented in a way to challenge the viewer’s ideas and opinions of a topic are yet another way public libraries can engage patrons in learning without the use of books.


9. Computer/Internet Access

This is a no-brainer. If you use computers and the internet responsibly and efficiently, a lot of learning can take place. For anyone that doesn’t have internet access at home, public computers are obviously great tools for reading emails, applying for jobs, taking online classes, and much more. In addition, libraries offer the use of printers for a small fee. Most public computers are equipped with Microsoft Office Suite, which can be expensive to purchase a personal copy of if you don’t need to use it on a daily basis. Learning how to code is an exciting use of public library computers that has gained substantial popularity in recent years. The organization Girls Who Code is offered at many public libraries as a way to get girls interested in the male-dominated computer and tech industry early on in their schooling. The possibilities are endless if you use your time smartly!


10. Magazine Subscriptions

I have touched on this subject briefly in my previous article Library Services Exposed: eBooks. Public libraries purchase magazine subscriptions for their patrons so you don’t have to. Online subscription services like Flipster and RBdigital (as mentioned in the article) are a convenient way to have access to several magazines at one time. Since you have free, unrestricted access to them, there is no need to feel obligated to read every article. Usually libraries subscribe to the really popular magazines both in-print and online, and then have only one form of the less popular magazines. I suggest figuring out what subscriptions your library offers in each form and then making a list so you remember to check back weekly or monthly when new issues come out.

Did you like what you read? Read ways 1-5 to pursue self-improvement at your library without picking up a book here.

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