What’s the Coolest Thing About Your Local Library?

Screenshot: Cinar (Arthur)
Hack Your CityEach Monday we ask you for your best city tips: driving tips, restaurant recs, things to do, and any other advice for visitors and locals. Sometimes the weekly topic is a specific city; other times it’s an aspect of all cities, so everyone can participate.  

There are libraries where you can borrow puppets, instruments, telescopes, framed art, a necktie for a job interview, or even seeds to plant. Libraries host talks, concerts, story time, workshops, and classes; they distribute books, magazines, newspapers, DVDs, even video games. They might host a passport application office or other government services. They might give you free entrance to museums, or access to digital film libraries like Kanopy or Hoopla. But each library system’s offerings are different. What’s the most special thing you can get or do at your local library?

There’s a cliché that goes, “If libraries didn’t exist yet, they’d never get approved today.” What’s weird is that people don’t say that to imply that libraries are a bad idea. It’s that they’re so staggeringly good for society, such an effective use of public resources to serve the entire community and to help people help themselves, that if they didn’t already exist, we could never guess they would be this amazing.

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And most libraries have evolved very well along with technology and culture. They update their materials, they let patrons find and reserve and even consume materials from their computers and phones, they offer the programs that the community most needs. Librarians are probably the friendliest, most helpful government employees you’ll ever have the pleasure of consulting.

What does your local library system offer that surprises you or sets you apart? What’s the best thing they’ve done for your community? What’s the most amazing thing you can borrow, or the coolest thing you can do there? Is there a digital service that your library offers?

Is there a particularly beautiful library building near you, or a specialized collection? Is there an especially great bookmobile or other outreach? Is there a private library that you’ve found especially helpful? Have you even found a particularly great “little free library”?

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Tell us in the comments below—remember to name your city!—and we’ll feature the best answers under the Staff tab.

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