When Jamie Bowers tells Free Library visitors that they can use their library card to stream movies, check out musical instruments, or learn to code, she’s often met with the same shocked retort.
“They’ll say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know the library had this,’” said Bowers, the library’s electronic resource coordinator. “And to be honest, my heart sinks when I hear that.”
For its 570,441 cardholders, the Free Library system offers thousands of resources, materials, online courses, workshops, and classes. The Inquirer compiled a list of some of the more unconventional ones that patrons can access to maximize their library card. They include:
Visit any of the 54 branches to use WiFi; just log in with your library card number and PIN.
Browse the nearly 50 mostly string instruments at the Central Library’s Musical Instrument Collection on the Parkway, including acoustic guitars, violins, mandolins, and ukuleles, then take one home for practice.
Discover family history with the library’s genealogy resources, which offer centuries worth of local censuses, newspapers, maps, and more.
Learn a new language with one of four online language databases. Choose from more than 70 language courses on Mango Languages, and get access to DuoLingo, the Pittsburgh-based language learning app. If you’re ready to try out your skills, join a language conversation group, offered at multiple branches. If you’re looking to learn English, take traditional or non-traditional English courses.
The free computers have long been a resource to job hunt, create or edit resumés, set up an email account, or submit an application. But now, both budding entrepreneurs and established professionals can get help to become their best professional selves. Free head shots are available at Parkway Central’s Business Resource and Innovation Center, where patrons can also attend free classes and workshops on personal finance, grant writing, and more. Ties for the perfect job-interview ensemble are on loan at the Paschalville branch, which also has a Job Readiness Lab to assist job seekers. If you’re striving to learn new skills or knowledge, watch thousands of video courses taught by industry experts on Lynda.com from LinkedIn.