If you haven't gotten a library card at your local library, you're missing out on more than just books.

I am someone who, unfortunately, has gone decades without having a library card. Call it busyness, call it forgetfulness, or whatever you want but, I've put off obtaining a library card for an embarrassingly long time because...I already owned a ton of books that needed reading.

It wasn't until a friend pointed out that she had been listening to a free audiobook thanks to her library that I realized I'd been missing out on a ton of free services.

What Kind of Services Does the Library Provide?

I can't say with confidence that every single library universally provides the same services. However, there are several that most that I've seen (and researched) do provide. Since I live in the Kalamazoo area, I'm basing this on what the Kalamazoo Public Library and Parchment Community Library offer.

Outside of free book rental, wifi, and computer services, your library card can also give you access to:

1. Hoopla 

Hoopla is an app that provides access to ebooks, audiobooks, comic books, magazines, movies, tv shows, music, and even courses so you can expand your learning. There's also no waiting list. All titles are always available.

That covers the majority of the monthly streaming services I pay for all on one app that is free with your library card. Now, there are some restrictions. In most places, there's a limit on how many you can borrow at once (usually 10) and there will probably be a loan period like 3 days, for example.

2. Libby by Overdrive

Libby by Overdrive offers ebooks and audiobooks, too. Patrons get up to 7 borrows per month but, your borrows are based on availability. If you're looking for something specific and it's already 'checked out' you'll have to wait until it's returned.

3. Craftsy 

This is something I found specifically on the Parchment Community Library website and, I believe, it's also offered through Hoopla.

Craftsy offers step-by-step video instructions for crafts like baking, knitting, cake decorating, and much more.

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4. GetSetUp 

The Parchment Community Library also offers access to GetSetUp which provides free, virtual classes for older adults.

5. Video Games 

The Kalamazoo Public Library currently offers a video game collection that can be played in the library. Consoles, games, and accessories do not circulate outside of the library.

You'll find games for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Switch Lite, and Oculus Quest 2 all available at the library. And, according to their website, they work to offer new titles monthly.

6. KPL's Library of Things 

Kalamazoo Public Library's Library of Things is pretty unique, in my limited experience.

Their LOT offers things like:

  • hand trucks
  • karaoke machines
  • wireless hotspots
  • jump ropes, basketballs, cornhole boards, etc
  • baking utensils like cookie cutters and mixers
  • car diagnostic scanners
  • cameras

And, not to make a pun, a LOT more. Honestly, their catalog of available items is pretty impressive.

Like library books, each item can be checked out for up to three weeks. All patrons must sign an agreement before checking these items out, however.

Check the websites for the Kalamazoo Public Library and Parchment Community Library for a full list of what your library card can give you access to.

How Do I Get a Library Card?

I would call the library closest to you to find out specifics about where you need to go to obtain your library card. You do need to apply in person and you'll need to visit the library that's designated for your school district. But, don't make my mistake.

I went to the library closest to me (without calling) only to discover that half of my apartment complex is in one school district while the other half is in a completely different school district. Make it make sense. After you find the right library to visit, you'll need a valid photo I.D. There is no cost for obtaining a library card.

Lately, money is tight for a lot of families across the country. In response, a number of libraries in SW Michigan have actually done away with late fees. Learn more below:

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