Countless Hours of Entertainment From "the Library" Without Stepping Into The Library

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Lately, I have been spending less time on social media when the world is doing the opposite. I consider myself a very passionate person, and lately my passion has been in reconnecting with the countless resources at the library from my home. I took an informal survey of friends and family and discovered that most have not stepped into a library in the last few years and others do not even own a library card. It was interesting to hear about the fear of overdue library books and thereby incurring fees or even stepping into a library. However, with commercial enterprises such as the declining Blockbuster stores and modern credit card parking meters, one would think that most of us have adjusted to obeying rules and facing consequences. But now that the libraries are keeping up with technological advances, and there is no basis for such fears when due dates have no attached fees.

First: RBDigital and Zinio

We visit the library at least three times per week because my children are avid readers of young adult books. At the end of July, I took the children to the library and pickup a bookmark advertising Zinio through the public libraries in Los Angeles ("the library"). I couldn't believe that the library was offering this magazine service when the average person would have to pay for their electronic magazines. Apparently, the library works with RBDigital to provide you free magazines, storing them in Zinio. One magazine called "The Economist" costs $126.99 per year for 51 issues. There were so many magazines to download that I didn't even want "Cosmopolitan." Instead, I went with my regulars, "Martha Stewart's Living," "O," "National Geographics" and many, many more. The beauty of this privilege is that I am able to download unlimited digital magazines to read at my leisure whether I am at home or somewhere else on my computer or on my smartphone. You also keep your magazines forever without any overdue fees. I am looking forward to the day that my living room will not be cluttered with magazines that I have barely touched. So, it may be worth stepping into your library in Los Angeles County for 15 minutes just to apply for a new library card so that you can enjoy this privilege without having to revisit your library ever again. Check your local library to see if you have similar services.

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Second: Hoopla

On the e-Media section of my library site, www.lapl.org, I saw something called "Hoopla." What a discovery! Hoopla hosts a collection of movies, music, and audible books. When I told a friend, she told me that a Hoopla subscription is $8 per month if you buy a card at a supermarket. Using my Los Angeles Public Library Card, I can borrow 10 movies, music, and audible books per month. When my daughter wanted to listen to Rihanna's "Unapologetic," I was able to borrow it through Hoopla sitting on my sofa.

I am currently listening to the currently released album called "Music From Baz Luhrmann's Film The Great Gatsby," which is selling for $13.99 on Amazon for free. I didn't have to spend any time combing through misplaced and miscategorized CDs at the library, hoping that that particular library happens to have a CD in its collection. I am going listen to this album until its due date (which will disappear from my account) and don't have to worry about owing any fines.

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What About Your Library?

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Third: Freegal

Another electronic media resourse is Freegal, which is related to Sony database. The service provides you three completely free download each week. At our library, the beginning of the week is Monday. So, when Monday arrives, you are entitled to another three free downloads. Currently, it has the latest album of popular artists such as Miley Cyrus. I found a number of Celine Dion albums.

You can also download videos, but they count as two song downloads. So, if you are given only three per week and you download a video, you are left with one other song that you can download.

The downside is that there are a lot of tribute groups and also popular musical artists' less successful albums. However, if you can pinpoint whether an artist is under Sony and then browse to see if there are any music that you want from that artist, you may be surprised to see what you find. My husband loves Billy Joel and he's completing his collection. Three downloads per week really adds up on an annual basis.

E-Books, Audiobooks & Streaming Videos

Without stepping out of your home, you can check out E-books or audiobooks or stream video directly from my library site. There are so many resources that you may inadvertently hoard the resources and find out that there is just not enough time to partake in the activity.

The one drawnback is the OneDrive e-media system. If that's the system that your library uses, I found it very user unfriendly. It is difficult to download the resource and transfer it to my iPhone. I had great hopes for one of the older Wayne Dyer audiobook, but it looped and didn't move to the next chapter. It is also very difficult to resume where you started.

My e-book experience is better. The true beauty is that you will never ever incur any late fees when you use a library's electronic media. Since electronic media has yet caught on, nobody is beating you to borrow some of these electronic material.

Reference Material At Your Fingertips

At the Los Angeles Public Library site under research, you can find countless number of reference materials, including encyclopedias, thesaurus, newspaper articles, preparatory materials for college entrance exams, study materials for professional licensing exams such as real estate, photos for Power Point, and even homework help.

I learned from a local librarian that the future direction for libraries is to invest in these expensive electronic databases, rendering physical books obsolete. On the same token, you can find more Library book sales to make room for the newer books. So, if you find the selection of materials online sub par, then just wait. It will only improve.

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