Have you been to your local library lately? Maybe you don’t think it has very much to offer you. Maybe you’re weighed down by the memory of long-overdue books and library fines. Or you never even got a library card! All you need to get a library card or to erase your library fines is to walk into any of the Ann Arbor District Library’s five branches and talk to a librarian. For those who don’t think there’s much for them at the library, let this essay convince you otherwise.
Our library offers a myriad of events for the public. Just in the next week, there’s Drawing for Adults on Sunday, an ongoing event series where you can try out different styles of art. It’s at the Downtown Library in the Secret Lab from 3pm to 5pm, and the topic is watercolors. Or, if you’re not quite in that age range, you can head over to the Westgate Branch for Preschool Storytime for stories and songs fro 11am to 11:30am, as long as you’re two to five years old and accompanied by an adult. If you or someone you know is learning English as a second language, there’s a conversation group to help you out on Monday, meeting at the Pittsfield branch from 1pm to 2:30pm. Or maybe you’d like to do a craft on Monday — check out Polymer Clay Gnomes at Traverwood. It’s a craft best suited for elementary school students, says its event page, and it’s from 2pm to 3pm. Or there’s Frostings, Icings, Fillings and Glazes with Keegan Rodgers, a hands-on workshop from 7pm to 8:30pm at the downtown library — it’s a craft that you can eat! You can always find a calendar of upcoming events at whatever local library is closest to you, or you can check the constantly-updating aadl.org/events! On the website, events are searchable by location, age range, and type of event. There’s also series of events, such as the Emerging Writer’s Workshop that meets every other Monday at the Westgate branch from 7pm to 9pm, that has been going on for years. There’s computer classes and author events and contests — and the best part is, they’re all free, with supplies provided!
Everyone knows that you can check out books from the library, but there’s so much more that you can check out at the Ann Arbor District Library. There’s a collection of 3657 free music downloads you can get at the library, for example! The library also has audiobooks — 13358 of them, to be exact, perfect for reading in the car on a long road trip or for when your hands need to do other things than hold a book, or for blind or dyslexic patrons, or people who learn better when they listen. You can also check out art prints from the library — they’re already framed up and ready to go, all you have to provide is the wall to put them on. Choose from 662 different art prints, and if you can’t pick just one, put another on hold. Looking for a little less variety? The library also has 18 different board games available to check out, including giant Jenga, giant chess and checkers, and a miniature ping-pong table. Do you need a specialized tool to measure something but hate spending money on something you only need to use once? Check out the library’s collection of 276 tools to see if they have it first. They’ve got a thermal leak detector, an energy meter, and an indoor air quality meter to start you off with. AADL’s tools are divided into four categories: art, home, music, and science. Lastly, if you just don’t have space for real books right now, or if you keep losing them and racking up huge library fines, you can check out ebooks and e-audiobooks from the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services — just sign into the website with your library card number and start checking out whatever you like. You can even download books for your Kindle! Or, if you prefer to read on your phone, which is terrible for your eyes but very convenient, you can also download the app Libby for reading — via your ears or your eyes! — on the go.
Lastly, the library itself provides free study spaces and meeting rooms for people who need to get out of the house or don’t have a quiet place available to them. There’s meeting rooms for study groups at the Downtown and Westgate libraries, and there’s study spaces available at all branches – whether in the main library itself or as sectioned-off spaces in the library. At the Pittsfield branch, there is a big science exhibit in the center of the library explaining how the Bernoulli effect works. There are vending machines at all library branches, and the Westgate library even has Sweetwaters cafe there. There’s computers available for anyone to use at all libraries, all you need is a library card or a guest pass. Or if you’ve got your own device, the Ann Arbor District Library has the fastest internet in town due to its fiber-optic connection, and it’s free! A librarian can help you with a research paper, a job application, or they can just teach you how to use the library.
In conclusion, there’s so many different things that the Ann Arbor District Library can offer you. For some you need a library card, which is free, but for most, you can just show up. There are many different sorts of events for all sorts of people. There are so many different things to check out at the library, so that you are no longer limited to merely books. Additionally, there are many services that the library and your local librarian offers. I hope that this essay has opened your eyes to the many different ways you can use your library!