Girl, prosthetic arm reads book between bookshelves. Text above reads "National Library Lover's Month."
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How to Make the Most of Your Local Library

Hushed voices, crinkling dust jackets, and fingers clacking against keyboards. Peppery pencil shavings, sweet crisp paper, and musky ink. Rows of wooden bookcases, bright illustrative book covers, and a community of readers of all ages. 

INCLUDAS is celebrating these sounds, scents, and sights this month as February is National Library Lover’s Month. Your local library may be a place you go to find your next great read or a place to hunker down and get some work done. But, if you haven’t explored your library to its fullest extent, you may be missing out on everything your library offers to its patrons like you. For tips on how you can make the most of your experience at your local library, keep reading!

Requesting physical books, audiobooks, and eBooks

Libraries want to carry the books its patrons are interested in, no matter the book’s format! To request books at your local library that you’re eager to read, follow the steps below. 

Requesting Physical Books

  1. Internet search for your local library’s name followed by “purchase request.”
    • For example, you’d search for: Springfield Public Library purchase request
  2. Most libraries will have a dedicated form on their website to request a book.
    • Request forms are typically under a library’s “Contact Us” page on its website.
  3. To make a request, you will need your library card and the book’s ISBN.
    • An ISBN is a 13-digit number that uniquely identifies a book. A book’s ISBN can typically be found above its barcode.
    • The hardcover ISBN for Luda & Chairsy: Making Friends is 978-09-86192-76-0.

Requesting Audiobooks and eBooks

  1. Log into your library’s Overdrive account with your library info.
    • Overdrive is a free app available for download on the Apple Store, Google Play Store, and Amazon App Store. 
  2. Filter your search results by “recommend to library.” Then, type in the eBook or audiobook’s title.
    • If an eBook or audiobook isn’t in your library’s collection, its search result will have a black “Not Owned” banner on it. 
  3. If your library doesn’t own a copy of the eBook or audiobook to check out, click “recommend” to request the eBook or audiobook.
    • If your library can purchase the eBook or audiobook, you will be placed at the top of the hold list.

Additional tips:

  1. If you cannot find an online request form, call or email your library’s circulation desk to request instead.
    • A book may need a certain amount of requests before your library can purchase it.
  2. Your library may have policies about materials they can purchase. Be sure to check out these details before requesting.
    • For example, your library may not take requests for self-published books. Your library may also limit how many purchase requests you can make per month.
  3. You may be able to request a book or eBook through Interlibrary Loan. Ask your librarian if your library offers this!
    • Interlibrary Loan is a service where patrons can borrow books, DVDs, music, and more that are owned by another library.

Children’s Programs and Activities

To encourage a love for reading and learning at a young age, libraries often offer special programs and activities aimed toward children. Explore the list below to see what may be available for children at your local library.

  1. Early literacy computer stations
    • These computer stations can have educational software programs for language arts, math, science, social studies, writing, graphic arts, typing, music and more.
  2. Sensory toys
    • Sensory toys’ weights and textures can help children develop their fine motor skills, social skills, and problem-solving skills.
  3. Weekly programs
    • Your library may offer virtual or in-person storytimes, playdates, craft programs, or computer coding clubs.

Blind and Print Disabled Readers

Boy, blind, reads braille book next to bookshelf. Text above, "The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled can deliver reading materials."

Local libraries may not carry the kinds of books that readers who are blind or print disabled need. These readers can instead turn to the Library of Congress’ National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS)—a free library service for U.S. residents who are blind or print disabled. 

The NLS lends audio books, audio magazines, braille books and braille magazines through the mail. Digital talking-book players for these reading materials can also be delivered to readers through the mail. 

BARD: Braille and Audio Reading Download

To access braille and talking books digitally, readers can use NLS’ online service called BARD: Braille and Audio Reading Download. BARD provides blind and print disabled readers access to thousands of books, magazines, and music scores. Readers can download BARDS’ files as compressed audio or formatted ebraille files.  

BARD is available as an app on the Apple store, Google Play Store, or Amazon App Store. Readers can also get a talking-book player on a long-term loan from their regional braille and talking book library to access BARD. 

Eligibility for NLS’ Services

Any U.S. resident who can’t read or use regular print materials due to a permanent or temporary visual or physical disability can use NLS’ services. To apply to the NLS’ services, readers can find their regional braille and talking book library to contact through the NLS’ “Find Your Library” webpage.

A competent authority must certify an individual’s visual or physical disability or limitation. According to the NLS’ website, a competent authority can be a doctor of medicine, doctor of osteopathy, ophthalmologist, optometrist, registered nurse, or therapist. Other competent authorities include educators, social workers, case workers, counselors, rehabilitation teachers, certified reading specialists, school psychologists, superintendents, or librarians. 

Read more about how to qualify for the NLS’ services through its “Eligibility” webpage.

Additional materials available at local libraries

There are more than just books available at libraries for patrons to check out! Explore the list below to get an idea of what may be available in your local library’s catalog. 

  • Entertainment
    • DVDs
    • CDs
    • Board games
    • Card games
    • Puzzles
  • Mixed Media
    • Maps
    • Photographs
    • Graphic art
    • Paintings
  • Equipment
    • Cameras
    • Microphones
    • VR headsets
    • Headphones 
    • Sewing machines

We hope you discovered something new about services available at libraries! There are so many ways to access books and learn, and we hope you find alternatives to make your reading experience great. If we missed a service or you have tips of your own, share some with us!

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