Billy Foshay / Gavel Media

Your Public Library Closed. Now What?

With the end of classes, we are all feeling a rush of relief tinged with a bit of sadness. Some of us may not want to pick up a book or do any kind of learning until September. But there are others who are feeling the pain of public libraries closing due to the pandemic. With the extra time that comes with summer, and with maybe no pool, beach, or even summer jobs to keep many of us occupied, it is difficult to not be able to access all the books, movies, and games the library offers essentially for free. Although some states are relaxing closures, library openings would be complicated because of the communal nature of borrowing and sharing products.

Fortunately, there are still ways to enjoy the entertainment you normally get from public libraries. While these ideas may not work for everyone’s community library, hopefully at least one will help you find a new favorite book, movie, or hobby!

Download Hoopla or Libby on your phone. Both of these apps offer a dizzying collection of ebooks and audiobooks with the entry of your library card number. Hoopla can also be accessed in a web browser and, aside from books, features thousands of albums, movies, and television shows. Note that as BC students, we have access to free materials on Overdrive.com through BC Libraries!

Start a book exchange with family members or friends. This one doesn’t even require a library card. Ask family members and friends if they have read anything good recently and if they would be willing to lend you their copy of the book. In the process, you can borrow a book for free, and you have someone to talk about it with when you’re finished. This idea can even work with friends who live out of state, and then you get the added excitement of receiving something in the mail!

Start a virtual book club. If you are missing your friends but you also want to switch it up after aimless FaceTime calls that inevitably drift into talk of the pandemic, a book club is a great way to interact with your friends over Zoom. There is something about appreciating a book that can make us all feel connected. Pick a group of friends, vote on a book, and set a deadline to read it by. Schedule a Zoom meeting to discuss your favorite and least favorite parts of the book, what really resonated with you, and what to read next!

Check your library’s website for any programs that have gone virtual. To continue providing services for the community, many libraries have gone virtual for classes, lectures, and discussions. My own library is hosting a virtual piano concert, book club, art lesson, and lecture on Monet. These programs are the perfect way to learn something new, discover a new hobby, or simply connect with your community.

Similarly to libraries, bookstores can provide both solace and entertainment, which is why it is important to support your local bookstore whenever you can. Small businesses need all the help we can give—now more than ever. Even if there isn’t a small, independent bookstore near you, supporting Barnes and Noble or Half Priced Books rather than Target or Amazon is huge, and will keep a fixture of your town up and running. Many local stores can order a book for you or possibly ship it to your house, making almost any book conveniently accessible. Bookstores also have high-quality used copies of popular books and movies that are less expensive and more sustainable than buying brand new.

Whether you are a lifelong reader, or you are getting back into a childhood hobby, reading can benefit us all. Books can be useful in giving us knowledge and teaching us empathy, but perhaps more importantly, they can provide an escape from the crazy times we are living in. Sometimes, it is all we can do to open up a book or put a movie on and get lost in another world.

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