Libraries are a great place to build community and read the classics, but they’re also a vital part of our sustainable future by providing access to resources and information from all over the world at little-to-no cost to visitors!
My husband and I moved to Gardiner almost two years ago and recently made it official by walking into our community library to get our library cards. After chatting with our helpful library staff, what I didn’t realize was just how underrated and vast their services are!
Here are my top five services that you should “check out” the next time you stop into your local library:
5. Thousands of Books
This one may go without saying, but libraries are known for their well-stocked shelves of books new and old. Before ordering another book or purchasing the newest installment of your favorite series from one of those online corporate giants like Amazon, search your library catalog and consider reserving a copy to borrow. You can still immerse yourself in the adventure, and then share the love with other library members when you’ve finished the story!
Hot Tip: If the book you’re hoping for isn’t currently offered at your library, take advantage of your local interlibrary loan program to borrow books from other libraries across the region. This can help you save money and shelf space at home in addition to saving some trees.
4. Movies, Music, TV, and more!
Choosing movies from an endless scroll of content on dozens of subscription streaming apps can be overwhelming. For a twist on movie night at home, plan a quick trip to the library and ponder the media shelves for some inspiration. Find a flick for each member of the family and bring back the nostalgia of picking the perfect rental for movie night!
3. E-books, Audiobooks, and Other Digital Media
Most libraries offer free digital streaming services for members to listen along to audiobooks or borrow e-books for your phone, tablet, or e-reader devices. Dive into Garbology by Ed Humes during your daily commute or listen to Kathryn Kellogg’s 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste while walking the dog, courtesy of your friendly neighborhood library.
2. Free or Discounted Museum and Park Passes
Admission to many of Maine’s family-friendly museums and parks is yet another reason to sign up for that library card. Most libraries require advance notice for reserving park and museum passes, so plan accordingly and enjoy many of Maine’s beautiful state parks, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, or visit the Maine Discovery Museum free of charge!
1. “Library of Things”
In Maine, more and more community libraries are establishing a “library of things” or similar space inside the library where members can borrow tools, equipment, and other non-book items. A “Library of Things” can include items like typewriters, card games, camping supplies, sewing machines, gardening tools, cooking supplies, crafting essentials, instruments, event dishware and decorations, power tools, and many more. For example, Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick has a “Library of Things” with more than 400 items available for the public to borrow and return.
Unsure if your local library participates? Check their website or give them a call and recommend items that might be useful for the community to share. Some participating libraries keep an ongoing registry of items that members can donate to the Library of Things, so consider donating these materials to your community library to support this resource in your area! If your library is home to a “Library of Things,” let us know in the comments below!
–Vanessa Berry, NRCM Sustainable Maine Outreach Coordinator