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In the relatively brief time I’ve been publishing this blog, I’ve written about a myriad of topics, or so it feels anyway. I’ve talked about how to put some money aside for adventuring. I’ve told you about books I’m reading and suggested some that you might be interested in picking up and thumbing through yourself. I’ve warned you not to let inexperience stop you from doing what you want to do.
In this post, I’m going to tell you about a powerful and free tool that can help you with all of this.
That tool is your local library.
I understand that it’s easy to forget about the library in the era of instant information and digital culture. Is the library still relevant in the age of Google and Wikipedia?
In short, yes.
No one can argue against the usefulness of Google. It’s wonderful to have access to so much information all at once, but it comes with its own problems. How do you prioritize the information? How do you know where to start? How do you determine what sources are reliable? You can learn these skills, but do you know who can help you get a jump start? Librarians. It’s literally part of their job. If you’ve been operating under the assumption that they only check out your books, you’re mistaken.
Librarians are trained professionals, educated in data management, research techniques, information delivery, and myriad other skills. If you’re looking for information on a topic, they can help you.
But your library offers more. Is your wireless down at home? They’ve got you covered. Want to borrow a movie for free? You’re golden. Want to read a bunch of comics without spending your entire paycheck? They lend them. I often post Amazon links to books and comics I’m reading, but most of these are just as readily available at your local library at no cost to you. Maybe you’ll incur some late fees if you’re like me, but you’ll still be coming out ahead financially.
There is more than just books, comics, and movies, however. Many libraries offer even more services; classes, lecture courses, exhibitions, tax assistance. Recent special events at my local library have included and astronomy night, a lecture series on the history of the Middle East, and an exhibit on the history of the Jewish community in the Quad Cities.
Most libraries also have cultural passes available for check out. What’s a cultural pass? Well, instead of paying an entry fee at a local museum or attraction, you present the cultural pass; no entry fee, no price of admission. All thanks to your local library. If there is an attraction you’d like to visit, do a little investigation and talk to a librarian. They’ll be able to tell you what cultural passes they offer. My local library, the Rock Island Public Library offers passes for some awesome local attractions like the Figge Art Museum, the Quad Cities Botanical Center, and Niabi Zoo.
Some libraries are a wellspring of information about the locality, state, or region; they’ll have resources on hand that will help in planning your adventures, such as maps, guides, and local history information. If they don’t have it, they can tell you how to find it, or help you to do so. It’s a valuable resource. If you’re uncertain what all the library offers, you can ask; librarians are almost always eager to help out a patron.
Your local library is an exceptional resource that you can make use of at no charge. You should take advantage of all the services available as you commit to upcoming ventures and new adventures. If you don’t have a library card, I recommend going and getting one this week. It will be time well-spent.
Note: Somehow I completely forgot about cultural passes when I first published this post! A friendly comment from Lisa Lockheart at The Rock Island Public Library prompted me to add that information post publication. Thanks Lisa!