| Thu, Apr 17, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

Visit Your Local Library during National Library Week

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

national library weekWhen you think of a library, what do you imagine? Rows of dusty books? A silent, somber atmosphere befitting a funeral service? A librarian prowling the stacks and shushing patrons?

If you haven’t visited your local library in a while, now is a good time—April 13-19 is National Library Week. You may be surprised to see what libraries have to offer. Of course, different libraries offer different resources. But here’s a sampling of what some libraries in the U.S. offer their patrons.

  • Books. To start with the obvious, libraries have books—not only their own, but those available on interlibrary loan from other libraries. And they may stock large-print editions for easier reading. You can often check out e-books for your e-reader, either in person or online. And if you like buying books for your own use, library sales generally offer a large selection of books at low prices.
  • More than books. Libraries often stock a good selection of classic and current movies, and musical CDs. But some libraries are taking it even further, loaning out items such as tools, cake pans, instruments and artwork. The Winter Park Public Library in Florida has started lending bicycles with locks, helmets and baskets to patrons.
  • Access to technology. Libraries today may offer patrons free computer use, including access to the internet. They also sometimes have technological equipment that may be too expensive for most of us to have at home: scanners, 3D printers, specialized software, and even audio and video editing equipment. Some libraries even offer e-readers, like Kindles or iPads, for patrons to check out.
  • A living room away from home. Many libraries have started offering comfortable reading chairs. Some even share space with a coffee shop, and encourage visitors to sip while they read. Enjoy some of the more expensive, big, glossy magazines? Your library may have them for you to enjoy.
  • Inclusivity. Public libraries are designed to give resource access to as many people as possible. Most library cards are free, as is entrance to the library.
  • Genealogy assistance. Want to find out more about your family’s history? You likely have a professionally trained researcher familiar with extensive databases available to help you: your local librarian.
  • An evening out. Libraries sometimes host not only talks by authors and other speakers, but art shows and concerts.
  • Refuge from the elements. Libraries are generally cool in the summer and warm in the winter. If you need a break from the weather outside, a library can be a great place to crash.
  • Training courses. Look and you may find classes related to computer skills, foreign languages, writing, public speaking and much more.
  • Specific interest groups. Many libraries have book clubs, based on various topics or themes. But libraries may host other types of groups, too, like knitting and chess clubs.
  • Volunteer opportunities. Many libraries offer a wide variety of opportunities to help out, from fundraising to tutoring programs to event organizing, to name a few. Check out your local Friends of the Library program as a place to start.
  • Museum passes. Libraries across the U.S. are participating in a program to allow patrons to “check out” free or reduced-cost passes to local museums and other attractions. If you’re caring for a grandchild over the summer, these can be a terrific resource.
  • A sense of community. If you like reading and learning, there are other people near you who do, too. You can probably find them at the library.

Hopefully, this rundown of the wonders available at libraries across the U.S. has whetted your appetite. Does your library have resources available that didn’t even make the list? Take a trip today to find out.

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.

Resources:

National Library Week: Information on this yearly event, sponsored by the American Library Association.

“From Distant Admirers to Library Lovers—and beyond”: The Pew Research Center’s March 2014 report on libraries and their relevance in the digital age.

Medicare & You: The U.S. government’s official Medicare handbook, available online.

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