What You Didn’t Know About Your Local Library.

Growing up I went to a tiny local library. Its hours were sporadic and it sprawled over the first floor of an 1800’s residential home that had been retrofitted for that use. It was a very, very small library – but I loved it.

© Icyimage | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images
© Icyimage | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

We’d make forays into Greenville to visit what became their much bigger library after they added a beautiful new addition and which also offered computers – which we could use to play games, etc. (I’m not sure the internet was an option for the first few years). Once in a while we’d even travel all the way down to Bethlehem to the monster library (which actually is decent sized, but not all that large).

Libraries where a second home for me. My mom would drop me off at one and I would stay for hours and hours. The library was a source of almost infinite knowledge – especially in those pre-internet days…and I loved knowledge.

I don’t go to libraries nearly as much these days – mainly because most of the information is now at my fingertips (and I don’t read fiction much)…but libraries aren’t relegated to irrelevance. They still house numerous books that provide deeper insights into a topic, they can get their hands on almost any book you could want (but don’t want to buy), and they offer a number of programs for children and adults – usually with an educational twist.

My local library is now the Langhorne branch. They’ve really done a beautiful job refurbishing the library – giving it a more coffeehouse/relaxing aesthetic. They have 10-20 computers that are available for public use and meeting rooms for special activities. Its a nice library – and if you want to make a trip out of the house – the library is an enjoyable (and free) place to go.

Ohh, and don’t forget about wireless internet access. Most libraries now offer free wireless internet access…and as the “Resources” page on the Bucks County Libraries’ website informs me – you can get access 24/7 by being just outside the library. Haha, this was kind of surprising – it sounds like they are inviting folks to come sit in the parking lot at all hours of the night? My guess is that in practicality, you might have a police officer visiting you one or more times during the night to see what you were up to…

In any case, what I really want to talk about is the digital resources that libraries make available. I can’t tell you exactly what resources are available at your library – but I will share with you some of the resources available through my library and I’d suggest that many (most?) libraries have similar offerings available…and they can be accessed directly from the comfort of your home (usually).

Magazines

Via Zinio my library offers access to a vast array of magazines in digital format. Here is a list of a few representative titles (but there are many, many more): AppleMagazine, Astronomy, Backpacker, Country Home, Bicycling, Billboard Magazine, Bloomberg Businessweek, Car and Driver, Consumer Reports, Cosmopolitan, Discover, Elle, Esquire, Field & Stream, Forbes, Fortean Times, Harvard’s Business Review, Ladies Home Journal, Men’s Health, National Geographic, Newsweek, O, PC Gamer, PC Magazine, PCWorld, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Redbook, Rolling Stone, The Economist, Us Weekly…oh boy, excuse me while I go lose myself permanently in the vast amount of quality reading material available!

Auto Repair

The libraries offer a number of resources called the “POWER Library” – this is probably available at most Pennsylvania libraries. One of these resources is an “Auto Repair Reference Center.” This is a treasure trove of information. Look up your specific vehicle’s model and see detailed instructions with images of how to perform various repairs and maintenance on your vehicle – or watch videos that explain how different components of vehicles work! Need to get an idea of what a repair is going to cost you? This can help on that front as well.

eBooks and Audio Books

The selection is much more limited than is available in the physical library – but that doesn’t keep there from being some excellent options available – you can’t argue with the convenience of never having to leave your home, wait in a line, or worry about late fees.

You’ll find books by Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code), John Grisham (the all-star of legal thrillers), Lee Child, George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones), J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings), Mitch Albom (The Five People You Meet in Heaven), J.K. Rowling (of Harry Potter fame), and Ted Dekker (Christian thriller author) amongst the many fiction titles available.

And what about for us non-fiction buffs? How about Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts, David Perlmutter’s Grain Brain, Jon Meacham’s Thomas Jefferson, Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live (I recommend), Timothy Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Body,  and so on.

Tutoring

Need help with a school subject? There is plenty of free tutoring available – including through Brainfuse – for K through College covering Science, English, Math, Social Studies, and Writing. Instead of guessing at your homework – or your child’s homework – here is a chance to improve your understanding and grades.

So Much More…

And there are all sorts of other resources as well as you can see here. Legal, research, film, continuing education. So go check out your local library’s website and see what vast resources have been sitting untapped at your fingertips!

PetSafe SlimCat Interactive Toy and Food Dispenser.

I have four cats – Hermione, Barclay, Piper, and George. I love my cats – but on occasion they can drive me insane. One of the primary ways they encourage insanity is by whining when they want food and ripping into Charity and I’s food when they are hungry. We used to leave food out all the time for them – but Barclay has an eating disorder of some sort. She will continue eating as long there is food, puke, then repeat (forever).

Slimcat Toy and Food Dispenser
Slimcat Toy and Food Dispenser from Amazon.com

She gained tons of weight – I think at her heaviest she was 25 lbs. She was going to die (from diabetes or etc.), we were spending unnecessary amounts on cat food, and cleaning up vomit is not my idea of fun…so we began rationing the food, giving them portions in the morning and evening.

But sometimes they aren’t happy with this, or think we should feed them at a different time, and sometimes they want more food – especially Barclay. This means they break into our food – rice, crackers, cereal. Sometimes they knock over the trash can – all forms of disasters can occur when they feel they need more food.

Recently they broke into a bag of cat food I accidentally left out. I moved it into the pantry and a few days later noticed something interesting – the cats weren’t begging for food. What had happened? Well, with the bag ripped the cats where able to stick their paw under the pantry door and pull out pieces of food and keep themselves sated. It was easy enough that Hermione, Piper, and George could do it whenever they were hungry and difficult enough that Barclay wouldn’t keep eating forever.

I wanted to replicate this experience. One option I found (and have been very happy with thus far) is the PetSafe SlimCat Interactive Toy and Food Dispenser. It is a plastic ball with holes cut into it. By sliding the plastic around you can make either the smaller or larger holes open. The top pops off and one can fill the toy with cat food. As the cats knock it around the floor a few pieces come out here and there. In this way the cats have to work for their food (we still give them regular servings as well) and also can’t get too much all at once. I see it as a reasonable solution for anyone who has an eating disordered cat – especially in a multi-cat household.

Stamp Album Stockbook by Lighthouse

As a child I collected everything – bugs, coins, books, postcards, sports cards, stamps…the list could go on. I still have many of these items (not the bugs, though they may still be at my parents). Recently I decided I should organize my stamps and see if they were worth anything and sell those that were valuable. I also decided to place in books and keep any I could not sell – as they are beautiful and something to show to guests or so on (don’t worry, I won’t make you look at these collections, I am not fond of being made to look at someone else’s collections for extended periods of time…but I will let you if you so desire).

Lighthouse Stampbook as pictured on Amazon.com
Lighthouse Stampbook as pictured on Amazon.com

Now, I doubt that I have very many that are valuable – but I do have a good number of them and have completely filled a Lighthouse Stamp Album Stockbook (32 page) and recently ordered two more. I must say that these stampbooks by Lighthouse are fairly affordable (especially in comparison to may competitors) and of fine quality (though I am no expert on stockbooks).

So, all this really to say – if you are a stamp collector and are looking for better ways to organize your piles of stamps (or perhaps you have them in books but using the old glue hanging tab), I’d recommend Lighthouse Stamp Album Stockbooks as an excellent and affordable choice.