Beyond information seeking: ways the library meets some other needs.

In earlier posts to this blog, and other places around the Internet, I have written about how to ask reference librarians questions, how to use a library catalog, and some of the differences between libraries and other ways of finding information. All of these articles have assumed some kind of information-seeking, or at least literature seeking. That is, if you want something in particular, I have given pointers for how to find it. Today, I will look at a random sample of a few other good reasons to visit the library.

1. Libraries are cool in the summer (in case your air-conditioning is not working), a warm place in the winter, a dry place in the rain, a quiet place away from the noise of traffic or the hustle and bustle of working or shopping. There are lots of things you can do in this peaceful and comfortable refuge.

2. Libraries are a great place to browse. They subscribe to more newspapers and magazines than you’ll find anywhere else–and not just current or recent issues, either. Only libraries offer the relaxing pleasure of leafing through fifty-year-old issues of Life or some other magazine. Think of the library as a vast StumbleUpon, where you can choose exactly what you want to browse.

3. With a library card, you can see an unlimited number of movies with no rental fee–and very likely find things that the video store, or the Red Box, or Netflix doesn’t have. (Plus, if you still have a VCR and no DVD player, the library probably still has cassettes!)

4. Even though libraries offer peace and quiet, the days of, “Shhhhh” are long over. The library is a good place to meet with friends. More and more libraries (academic libraries, at least) hold game nights from time to time. Just think, you can socialize without having to make arrangements for anyone else.

5. Libraries offer other public programming, too: concerts, lectures, public discussions, rooms for meetings, all kinds of things. And while the web is no particular place–basically the same sites are available to users anywhere in the world–the library caters to its own community. Programs reflect the interests of local people. You’re local in your own home town, aren’t you?

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