Thursday, August 6, 2015

the best thing in life that's free that you might not be using

It's the library. And I was a library skeptic for a long, long time. Don't be like me. Be better.

The library is amazing and like Netflix for books. If you like to pay for books, then cool, but if you like free stuff and you aren't actively using the library, then you're crazy. I use the library nearly every day and I rarely step foot through its doors. Let me tell you what you could be missing...

Photo by my friend Bre

Free (new) music: I'm cheap. I love Pandora and Spotify and free music because the radio is mostly awful these days. My library offers the Hoopla app which offers tons of music, often on the day it's released, free for a week. Try before you buy, or if you're me and the sudden resurgence of Fall Out Boy makes you want to relive 2006 and relisten to Under the Cork Tree without digging in boxes for a CD, there you go. I also love listening to comedy CDs through the app because they're something I enjoy but would never buy since I wouldn't relisten to them often.

Goodreads Laziness: I love Steph and Jana's monthly book link-up and I often add books to my Goodreads account based on other people's recommendations. Then, I have to go to my library's Overdrive app (which is where I get 90% of my books, with the other 10% being Hoopla audiobooks) and check for each book, one by one. It isn't hard but it's tedious, especially as my to-read list grows. You never know when a book is added to the Overdrive collection or if you've already looked for something. After some googling, I found a Chrome plug-in that you can install on your browser that adds a column to your Goodreads shelves or a line on each book you click on telling you right away if the book is available in the app. It is magic. Now, I can look at my shelves, right-click on what's available, and then it opens in Overdrive so I can borrow, request, or save each selection. It also tells you if there's a hold on the book and how long it is and if it's an ebook or audiobook.

With the plugin, there's a new column on my shelf view page | If you click to view a book's page, you can also see the Overdrive availability. The first number is the number of requests and the second is the number of copies available.

Flipster: This is my new favorite thing as my library just added it last month. It's basically magazines, loaded onto my iPad, for free. I love People magazine and Entertainment Weekly and I occasionally want to flip through a Better Homes and Gardens, but again, I'm cheap, and I know they'll end up in the recycle bin pretty quickly. With Flipster, you can add a magazine to your account, load it onto your device, and then you have two days to read it. I don't load one until I know I have some time to focus, so it's perfect to just check out the things you really want to read.

Personalized Recs: This is where my library is amazing (Harris County!). I read that they offer a Book Hunters program where you fill out a short survey about books you like to read, which platform you prefer, what you're looking for, etc. and then a librarian looks at your list and makes personalized recommendations. I filled out the survey and also sent a link to my Goodreads account in case it was helpful. I got a list of 14 books back, all available electronically, and I'm excited to get started on the recommendations -  I added at least nine to my to read shelf.

Audiobooks: I know, audiobooks are like the coolest thing to hit blogging since the blanket scarf, but unlike wearing too much material around my neck, they are actually something I bought into and love. I always have an audiobook going for in the car (I drive at least an hour and a half a day), while walking the dog, and often when I clean. It takes just the right amount of attention for me to be able to multitask. Some narrators are amazing and really bring you into the story. You get each book for two weeks and they are 100% free through the library so why haven't you given them a try yet?

Comic Books and Movies: You can get comics through Hoopla and graphic novels (like The Walking Dead!) though Overdrive. Comics are expensive and sometimes I want to see where TWD book went so I can try to figure out the show. There are also movies (and kids' shows!) on Hoopla. This isn't something I've used yet, but I love just knowing it's there.

No one asked me or paid me to write this post. I just wish I had known all the great stuff available to me for free long ago. I feel like I wasted a lot of time not reading or using my commute time in the middle of a great story. I think I annoy my coworkers by constantly telling them what I've been reading but I always have new options easily accessible and I'm excited to share. Who knows, maybe one day I will actually get to the library during its working hours and take advantage of the other things it offers. There's actually a craft class that sounds kind of fun...

Linking up with Joey and Kristin...



21 comments:

  1. My library is a little behind the times BUT we do have eBooks now! It's amazing. And you never have late fees because the book just disappears at the end of the 14 days! It's sad but I love not having to drive books back.

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  2. The libraries here leave something to be desired, I can tell I'm not in a big city anymore. That being said the branch I go to is super nice and has lots of books, some of the smaller branches are in strip malls and not that nice.

    We have books, ebooks, audio, and movies. That's about the extent of the libraries services. Oh you can use their computers too.

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  3. Girrrl, you KNOW I love the library so I super love this post. Libraries are a very under utilized resource that we are so lucky to have in this country.

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  4. My mom is a librarian so I grew up in libraries and I LOVE THEM!!! I refuse to buy books (unless its something I know I will read over and over like Harry Potter...). And I love the ebooks feature now- it makes it So easy to just grab a book and never have to leave the house.

    Movies and music too...all free. love it!!

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  5. What a great and useful post Lauren! I MISS the Atascocita library - Is that the one you go to? I've been slacking on hitting up a library closer to me, so all this free fun stuff just might be the motivation I need!

    Also, I cannot get the new Uma Thurman Fall Out Boy song out of my head, and I'm loving every minute of it.

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  6. Hahahaha you opening lines...Don't be like me, be better. Cracking me up! I just joined my library last month and I am loving it! Unfortunately, I live outside of Birmingham in a teeny tiny little city. While I experience zero issues with wait lists...there isn't a huge selection of ebooks to read and the audiobooks are practically non-existent for me. They literally have 3 available right now. Eek! I am hoping that they step up their game a little so I can take advantage of it!

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  7. I have a new love affair with my library, but for ebooks. I got a kindle for my birthday, but being super cheap, I don't want to by books (even digital ones) for it. So the library is awesome! Plus I can upload 7 at a time. So I have SEVEN books in my kindle for when I travel, etc.

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  8. Funny enough I passed the library yesterday and thought, "I need to sign up there", or whatever it is called when you join a library...join? I don't know.

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  9. I love my library and Overdrive app! I've only had one book I had to get from Hoopla, so I haven't delved too much into that and OMG that plug in for Overdrive/Goodreads I am downloading when I open my laptop next time!!!

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  10. that book hunters thing sounds amazing! i wish my library did that.

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  11. Flipster and Overdrive are two of my favorite library features! I also love that mine also has streaming movies available now.

    We don't do much of the library programming (most are geared for kids younger than my daughter) but since I live in kind of a rural area, our library also has people's extra garden vegetables just sitting in a basket and a seed exchange program or something like that. We haven't used that particular program but it's definitely something cool it offers.

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  12. I love my local library and it has both Hoopla and Overdrive which I have been using a lot lately. Added the Chrome plugin, awesome tip!

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  13. I looooove the library but haven't been in farrrr too long. For someone like me who goes through books super quickly, free is the way to go!

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  14. YESSSSSSS! I am SO with you on this! I use our digital library so much! I honestly really love the actual library itself, too, but the audiobooks and ebooks I get on the regular from the digital library are endless!

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  15. I found your blog after HCPL shared this post on social media. Warm fuzzy feelings for this librarian, haha! I did not know about that Goodreads plug-in... that is fantastic. My library just added Hoopla earlier this year and we're still trying to get more people to use it -- usage has definitely been on the upswing since they added DC comics to the options.

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  16. I am a librarian at HCPL and found your blog through our recent post. I am loving it! Thanks for the Goodreads/Overdrive tip! I had no idea!

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    1. You're welcome! Though it's imperfect, it's pretty awesome and very useful!

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  17. I am a librarian at HCPL and found your blog through our recent post. I am loving it! Thanks for the Goodreads/Overdrive tip! I had no idea!

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  18. I love HCPL too! And thank you for the tip on the Chrome extension for Goodreads!

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  19. I retired from Houston Public Library a couple of years ago and recently signed up with HCPL as well. Doubled my pleasure at no charge! I'm lucky enough to live near small branches of both systems and am a heavy user of e-audiobooks from both. So happy to read all the enthusiastic comments here!

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  20. Just retired from HCPL. I have HPL, HCPL, & MCMLS cards. We have just bought in New Braunfels and the first thing I did was get an NBPL card. (They are $30 if you are not a resident.) STAY CONNECTED!

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I like comments and read them all but I'm not great about responding to them, so please don't be offended. I would much rather visit your blog instead!