When was the last time that you visited your local library? Next time you have a spare 15 minutes, I recommend that you drop in and take a look at how the humble library service has evolved. You will be surprised. The library service here in South Australia is fantastic and I’m sure you’ll be wondering why you hadn’t rediscovered it earlier.
Apart from all the standard borrowing services that you’ve come to expect from a library, Libraries of SA offer a host of other services, including free fixed and wireless internet access, kids’ storytelling sessions, family tree research assistance, technology workshops, computer and printing services, and access to daily newspapers, magazines and local history collections. And it’s all completely free. As a bookseller, I’ve often wondered why anybody would pay good money to buy a book when they can just borrow it for free from the library!
In addition to the ‘physical’ services that are accessible in the libraries themselves, Libraries of SA now have a host of excellent ‘remote’ services that many people don’t know about – in most cases, these services allow you to enjoy the benefits of the library without physically setting foot in one – here are the best services that you can access:
The networked library service. All 130 public libraries in South Australia are networked which means that you can borrow ANY book in ANY library in South Australia. The best part is that you can search the central database on your local library website (I use the Walkerville library website – incidentally that’s a picture of ‘my local’, the new Walkerville Library above) and ‘place holds’ on books that you want to read. Libraries of SA will source the book from the parent library and ship it at their own expense to your local library. When the book arrives, you’ll be alerted by an SMS message on your phone and all you have to do is pick it up. Don’t go spending big bucks ordering a hard-to-find title from Amazon when your local library can get it in for free!
The fact that all libraries are networked also allows you to use the Libraries of SA ‘One Card’ system to borrow and return books in any library in the state using the same library card. On holiday in regional SA? Zip into the nearest library and borrow some books for the kids, and then return them to your local library when you get home!
eBooks and Audio Books. Did you know that you can also borrow eBooks and Audio Books electronically from Libraries of SA? No need to visit the library in person! Using their branded OverDrive service you can read eBooks directly in your web browser or download them to your Apple, Android or Windows device for reading in the OverDrive Media Centre app (free from the App Store, Google Play and Windows Store). Whilst the range of Australian content is a little thin, it’s well worth a look and I understand that there are plans afoot to increase the range of content soon.
Lynda Online Training. Libraries of SA has recently signed a deal with global online video training service Lynda, which was recently acquired by LinkedIn. With your library membership, you can access almost 4,000 online training courses in the comfort of your own home, covering technical skills, design, photography, business and much more.
Zinio eMagazines. Glossy magazines are expensive. Why spend $10 plus on a magazine, when you can download it on your tablet for free using your library subscription? From August 2015, library members will have access to over 400 full-colour digital magazine titles, including many Australian titles, via online eMagazine provider Zinio. The Libraries of SA website promises more information shortly on this new service.
As you can see, Libraries of SA is well worth a look – it has a comprehensive array of free physical and remote services that can save you a lot of money. Do yourself a favour and take the time to explore what’s on offer.
Notwithstanding the great service already provided by Libraries of SA, in Part 2 of this blog post series I’ll provide some ideas about how it can further increase its relevance in the digital world.