I was recently having a conversation with a co-worker about the public library near our work. I had to take some library books back and he went along for the walk. After I dropped off the books at the return, I showed him around the building, pointing out the various resources. He was amazed. Libraries had changed greatly from when he was back in school. I then recalled I had a similar conversation with some other folks I worked with who also didn’t realize how much the library had to offer. For instance, my particular public library offers these in addition to the regular physical books:
I won’t go into detail on the classes and groups that meet, everything from sewing to how to build your resume. Altogether, libraries today provide a whole lot more resources than they used to. As technology evolves, most libraries have strove to embrace these technologies because they (a) reduce cost and (b) provide more services. Often times these library resources are free.
When you’re looking to develop and grow yourself, check out what your local library has for you. As you build your reading list, you can save money if the book you want to read is in your library. But what if your library doesn’t have it?
Even if it’s not, there’s a not-so-secret service called Interlibrary Loan. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s where you can request your library borrow the book you want from a library it has an agreement with. Often times you’ll be asked to fill out a form that indicates:
- How long you’re willing to wait to get the book
- If you’re willing to pay to offset the cost of shipping the book
- How long you’ll need the book
Most of the time you can get books for a few dollars as the holding library sends it to yours. So if your library doesn’t have a particular book, chances are that a library it has an agreement with does and you get obtain a copy that way. This is especially true of books that more folks request or books that you’d expect an academic library to hold. Work-related books dealing with communication skills, productivity, performance, and career planning are typically easy to get this way. However, you’d be surprised as what a library can get if you’re waiting to wait a little while. I can remember back in my high school days I was learning to play the King’s Gambit. However, there wasn’t much literature on chess, much less a specific topic like a chess opening, at my local library. I used interlibrary loan to get two newly published books on the subject and then was able to use that knowledge at my first chess tournament. If esoteric books like books on a chess opening that has fallen into disfavor at the professional level can be found, chances are books from your reading list can be, too.
Joining Another Library:
But what if your library isn’t all that great? It’s not unusual to see libraries accept members from out of its region. My library does this for a modest fee of $65 a year. Folks from neighboring counties, especially technology folks, have made use of this because their county libraries don’t offer nearly as many amenities. And $65/year through my library is far below the cost of the equivalent service level at Safari Books if they were to pay directly, meaning they have access to a constantly updating technical library for that low price.