6 Ways to Make the Most of Digital Local Library Resources

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Student using digital local library resources

Today, public libraries are gold mines of free digital resources, ready to help assist and enrich your online student’s learning, most of which you can access without ever leaving your house. Keep reading to discover everything you can do with these library resources for students and how they can support your child’s growth and development.

1. Read or Listen to a Book

Patrons can now access thousands of audio, read-along, and e-books through partnerships with their local library, in addition to the hard copies available at the physical library. For example, a favorite library resource for students among families across the nation is the app Libby, a well-known provider of tens of thousands of digital books to anyone with a library card from a participating library. Once they log in, students and their families can access an unlimited number of audiobooks, e-books, and magazines. Considering that a single credit on an audiobook subscription service like Audible costs over $15, free access to thousands of audiobooks and other media via the library can save families a great deal of money. To learn more about downloadable apps, look on your local library’s website or talk to the librarians during your next visit.

2. Stream Movies, Music, or Documentaries

Whether it’s movies, music, or documentaries, students can find educational and entertaining streaming content through apps provided by their local library. Below are a few of the most common services public libraries provide:

  • Hoopla is a popular audio and e-book resource that allows library cardholders access to movies, TV episodes, periodicals, and music.
  • Kanopy offers more than 30,000 free films, including award-winning documentaries; film festival favorites; and of course, classics.
  • Freegal provides access to approximately 7 million tracks from top artists to international musicians with merely a library card.

3. Research Your Family History

The importance of library resources for students in this area becomes clear when a child gains a stronger sense of self-identity through their family tree. HeritageQuest and MyHeritage, two popular genealogy databases with public libraries, offer users billions of historical records, dating back to the 1700s. Examples of information available in these databases include photos; local and family histories; census data; and many historical documents, like the Revolutionary War Pension and Freedman’s Bank Records. 

4. Find Reputable Sources Using Peer-Reviewed Databases

Students looking for credible sources they can use for research assignments will feel like they’ve hit the jackpot with your local library’s digital databases. Most libraries offer databases tailored to each educational age group: elementary school, middle school, high school, and college for students in Advanced Placement® courses or who are dual enrolled.* The more expertise kids gain in using these library resources for students, the better prepared they’ll be for any postsecondary education they pursue. 

Kids InfoBits is an ideal starter database, as it introduces primary school students to database searching through user-friendly tools that provide access to age-appropriate, credible, and curriculum-related knowledge on various study areas. Other well-known and respected databases commonly provided by public libraries include EBSCO, Gale, and Britannica. The research and reference books available through these and the hundreds of other databases most libraries offer are the best starting point for any research paper, science project, etc., a student may encounter before high school graduation. 

5. College and Career Prep

Whether your student is preparing to take the PSAT, SAT, ACT, or your state’s yearly K-12 assessments, LearningExpress Library via EBSCO and other popular library resources for students are available through your local library, to provide your student free access to high-quality test prep so they can achieve their best possible score on exam day. 

For students searching for their first jobs or putting together college applications, the importance of library resources to students can’t be overstated. Students can also find tools like résumé builders, which allow them to create a powerful résumé to offer prospective employers or schools. 

6. Learn Another Language

Free access to language learning tools for all ages is another reminder of the importance of library resources for students. Some language services most frequently provided by public libraries are online apps that library cardholders can access for free or at a discount. This includes options like Spanish, French, Arabic, German, Japanese, Yiddish, and English for non-native speakers. Courses typically cover everything from vocabulary to pronunciation to culture in addition to building vocabulary. 

*Advanced Placement® is a registered trademark of the College Board. Used with permission.

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