You may remember the library as the place where you did research for your school assignments, but there’s a lot more to most libraries these days.
In this post, I share a few free resources from the library that freelancers will find helpful. Most (but not all) local libraries offer these resources to local residents and/or library cardholders.
Resource #1: Books and Publications
It may seem obvious, but the library is a great source of books and publications–many of which have to do with your freelancing specialization. Make a regular effort to spend some time browsing through the stacks to see what books might help your freelancing business.
The periodicals section of the library is largely ignored by many freelancers. However, it contains a wealth of information for the savvy freelancer.
As you probably know, magazine subscriptions are pricey. Most libraries have a periodical section with hundreds of magazines available, ranging from popular publications to professional journals.
Writers who are interested in getting into print publications can browse through the periodical section in the library to get an idea of where to submit their queries. Designers and other creative professionals can find a wealth of inspiration in the magazine section.
Resource #2: Free WiFi
You like to get out of the house occasionally. Who doesn’t? You probably already do make use of many of the free WiFi spots in your area, but you probably overlooked the local library.
Many libraries offer free WiFi on their premises. This can be a great option for the freelancer whose internet went down or who just wants to get out of the house.
As an added bonus, most libraries tend to be quieter than many other free WiFi spots such as local coffee shops (which can be quiet noisy). During the day, you can ask to work in a study room for maximum concentration.
Resource #3: Classes and Meetings
Most local libraries also double as community centers. That means that they often have meeting rooms and classrooms available.
Whether you are looking to gain a new skill or to network, don’t overlook classes and meetings at your local library. Classes are often available to local residents for no cost or low cost.
As an example, a library near me is offering classes for adults on interviewing skills, a resume workshop, and a class on how to find a job online. A larger library (not too far away) has workshops for inventors, a class on how to get a grant, and a wide variety of language and computer classes.
If you’re knowledgeable about a particular topic, you may wish to inquire about offering a class as a community service. This can raise your visibility in the community.
Check your library’s website or give the library a call to see if they have any classes or meetings that you might be interested in.
Resource #4: Borrow eBooks
You may not realize it, but thousands of local libraries now allow cardholders to borrow eBooks for free.
If your library offers this service, you can borrow online from the library’s website if you have a Kindle, Nook, or other device for reading eBooks. (Check with your library for a list of compatible devices).
Borrowing an eBook can be a great option if you think that you won’t need to refer to the book more than once. It can also help you find great eBook resources that you ultimately want to buy and add to your professional eBook library.
Resource #5: The Reference Librarian
The reference librarian is another great resource for freelancers. Most larger libraries have one.
If you need to research something, the reference librarian can give you tips on where to find relevant information. The reference librarian is familiar with the materials available through the library and can often help you find online resources as well.
A good reference librarian can save you a significant amount of research time.
I’ve seen many posts predicting the death of the local library due to the accessibility of the internet and other online resources. Frankly, I think that these predictions miss the point of what a library really is, which is more than just a giant collection of paper books.
The local library may change, but I don’t think it will go away entirely. (At least, I hope not.)
As a freelancer, have you made use of your local library? What services does your library offer that might help freelancers?
Image by ESwift