September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month, and while physical books, ebooks, and audiobooks still rank chief among our most popularly checked-out items, the Free Library is home to a host of other materials and online resources that may just surprise you:
The Free Library system is the largest provider of free public Wi-Fi in the region, and with internet access as well as public computers available at every Free Library location with a library card, a world of possibility is opened as users can open email accounts, search for jobs, connect with family members via social media, conduct research, and much more.
Library-card holders looking to learn a new language or brush up on an old one can utilize Mango Languages to embark on a language journey, while Lynda.com allows card holders to enroll in online training on myriad topics taught by industry experts. Kanopy – the popular on-demand video streaming service – grants instant access to more than 30,000 movies, including award-winning documentaries and acclaimed films, rare and hard-to-find titles, and classics.
Looking to take the U.S. citizenship test? Your library card grants you access to a test prep portal, complete with study materials and practice tests, while the LearningExpress Library Career Center module offers sections on business writing, job search, and skills for successful interviewing.
If you were hoping to check something out – literally – a Free Library card is also your key to a variety of nontraditional items available for lending across the system. At the Parkway Central Library, in the music department, customers can take advantage of the Musical Instrument Collection and borrow an assortment of instruments suited for beginners and virtuosos alike. Each instrument comes along with a kit that includes a gig book, tuner, strap, and small amps and cables for the electrics.
The South Philadelphia Library is home to the Health Lending Library, from which patrons can borrow tools to help them live a healthier lifestyle, including food scales and blood-pressure cuffs. But if it's time for a cheat day, you can borrow a cake pan from the McPherson Square Library (and don't forget a cookbook to go with it).
If you've secured that job interview but don't know what to wear, borrow a tie, scarf, or jewelry from the aptly named "Tiebrary" – an integrated part of the Job Readiness Labs at the Paschalville Library – and make sure you're dressing to impress.
And if you're itching to explore the great outdoors and get up close and personal with the local fauna, several Free Library locations offer birding backpacks stuffed with a pair of binoculars, maps, and a field guide.
You can find it all – and much more – in our catalog, but don't forget: the first step is securing your library card. Head to freelibrary.org or visit one of our 54 neighborhood library locations to get yours today.