During the global pandemic of COVID-19, many businesses that were integral parts of our lives have closed. One of those, nation-wide, is the local public library. Some libraries continued curbside pickup, but many simply shuttered their physical collections and went online. Whether you’ve really explored your library resources before or are testing the waters for the first time as you work for home, I wanted to highlight five unique ways to use your library while they are closed. 

Keep in mind that every library system is different, has different resources available, etc. If your library does not have something you want or need, look at nearby libraries who may have reciprocal privileges with your locale. For example, DC residents can also get library cards in Arlington County, Fairfax County, Montgomery Country, and Prince George County. In this pandemic, most libraries are accepting card applications online and issuing numbers digitally. 

Talk To Your Library & Librarians

As I go through this, you may see resources your library doesn’t have or that you don’t know if they have. Don’t just wonder in a void–talk to your library! Many libraries are still active on social media or have a “chat” function on their website where you can ask questions. I work the chat box at my library and trust me, no question is unworthy. We’ll tell you how to download e-books, where to find the best course on learning Photoshop, how to place a book on hold, or we can help you find books for your kids! Take advantage of them before you start panicking about not having something or another. 

Overdrive/Libby/Hoopla/3M Cloud Library

Some of us have a lot of books at home we should finally be reading, but we also rely on the books from the library for various reasons! Just because the doors are locked doesn’t mean the collection is inaccessible to you. See what e-reading services your library subscribes to! Overdrive (and it’s app, Libby) is the most popular. Going through your library’s specific website will help you find that. There’s also Hoopla, through Hoopladigital.com, which some libraries subscribe to. Then there’s 3M Cloud Library. Checkouts may vary–for example, Hoopla usually gives you say 10 credits a month–but keep in mind that many e-books have holds and borrowing practices like regular books. Plan to read them within 3 weeks and don’t wait until the last minute if you need a specific book by a specific date. 

Videos & Movies: Overdrive, Kanopy, and more

Many of us have Netflix & Hulu and all those streaming services, but you may want to look into what videos your library has! The most popular digital resources for videos at libraries include Overdrive and Kanopy, which is like a Library-based Netflix. Access Video is another site that many libraries subscribe to. Whether you are looking for popular films, documentaries, or exercise videos, check out your library resources!

Education: Universal Class, Lynda.com, and Learning Library

Trying to keep learning while libraries and many workplaces are closed? Libraries have LOTS of educational resources outside of simply great books. Coursera isn’t associated with libraries,necessarily, but is a free resource. I’m a big fan of Universal Class–they have lots of classes on history & professional development–and many libraries subscribe to them. There’s also Lynda.com and the Learning Library which offer many career and computer related courses. If you have the time, why not learn a new skill or get better at something you use regularly at work? 

Test Prep: Teaching and Education Reference Center

Sure, this whole pandemic has made studying for the ACT and the LSAT and the GRE feel like absolute INSANITY, but you can still keep learning. See if your library, or one nearby, subscribes to the Teaching and Education Reference Center. They have great practice tests for all the major exams, and if they don’t your librarians can likely connect you to the test prep resources they do have. No need to stop working towards your goals now!

RELATED: 9 Women Reveal What Books They’re Reading While Staying Home

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member