All Hail the Public Library

All Hail the Public Library
Photo by Ria / Unsplash

I don't remember when I got my first library card; libraries have been part of my life for as long as I've been alive. I'm fortunate that my mother was an avid (read: obsessed) reader, and that trait was most definitely passed down to me.

No matter where I've lived, or what technology exists, I have always had at least one library card (facts: I've got three active ones right now). The joy I feel when I walk into a library, regardless of the country or the size, is uniquely pure. I don't wear perfume, but the smell of books waiting to be read should be part of my special bouquet if I ever did wear some.

My love for libraries seems to know no bounds, and today I'd like to share a few special tips for how to get the most out of your public library (especially if you're an entrepreneur):

  1. Get yourself a library card both for your local library as well as for a major library in your state. Many libraries in major cities only have state residency requirements, e.g. any resident of California can get a library card at the San Francisco Public Library.
  2. If you're an obsessed avid reader like me (as in, I read anywhere from 1-2 books per week), and you like to use an e-reader, the Libby app is amazing. The app allows you to put yourself on a waitlist, categorize books with tags, and get notifications for when a not-yet-available book is eventually available. It also allows you to put in all of your library cards so that if a book has a waitlist of 3 weeks at one library but only 1 week at another, you can put yourself on any combination of waitlists and get your book when it's your turn.
  3. Besides getting access to books, my favorite part about my library is the free access they give me to things that I simply can't afford. In particular, SFPL members have FREE access to online learning tools like LinkedIn Learning (formerly, Udemy, and Treehouse. I don't get the certificates that are often associated with taking courses on these platforms, but I'm here for the learning - and oh how much I have learned! I've made marketing and sales my focus for Q1 2024, and LinkedIn Learning and Udemy have made it so I can learn key principles quickly and efficiently.
  4. Finally, the library is one of my favorite places to go when I need a quiet place to focus: it's so easy to get distracted at home, and there are only so many cafe pastries and cups of tea that I can consume (or afford, if I'm being honest). My local library lets me sit in a quiet spot with my laptop and water bottle, and I can quickly knock out some financial analysis or investor updates.

Public libraries don't get enough credit for what they do for us. They are true pillars of any community, providing access to computers and printers, hosting English as a Second Language and resume writing classes, and creating a space of learning for absolutely everyone.

When's the last time you took advantage of your local library?