Get A Library Card: Four Things That Will Convince You

This post is directed at creatives, of course, but anyone can take advantage of the great things that come out of a library card.

1. It Will Expand Your Horizons

Sure, the bookstore is a fantastic atmosphere for browsing new books. I’ll give them the advantage, that the people that run bookstores know how to make things that draw your attention. Libraries have the priority of organization, because they have to – but the beauty of a library is that you can browse so many different topics (and far more obscure books), and if you come across something you want to try, there’s no risk in it. There’s very little standing in your way to start reading. No wallet guilt. Read as much or as little of the books as you like, without worrying about “but I paid money for this, so I better finish it.” Turns out it’s not worth the time to finish the book. No biggie. And if you loved a book enough, buy it to support the author, and now you can re-read or reference it all you want.


2. Stay Current with Magazines & Periodicals

When you think of libraries, you’re going to visualize the book stacks, not magazine racks. Me too. I was in that same spot… before I discovered The Edmonton Public Libraries most undervalued section!

As a photographer, I’m constantly looking for inspiration in a lot of the publications that I hope to one day earn a contributor title to. Here’s a few:


All kinds of great photography and design to see, and as a commercial photographer, the advertisements in these magazines can be as interesting to me as the editorial photographs, and articles. I think I’ve convinced you that, for a photographer (or other creatives, and really anyone at all) this is the easiest/best way to stay current with imaging styles.

There are plenty of different publications on the shelf at your library. Even better, lots of libraries now work in conjunction with digital publication software like Zinio, so that you can easily get new issues on your phone, tablet, or laptop. All for free!


3. Access to Multimedia of All Kinds

As I just mentioned, most libraries are pretty with it when it comes to technology. The have long-had sections for movies, music, audiobooks, etc. With the advent of digital and streaming content, libraries are still keeping up-to-date by having digital options.

For example, my library uses Overdrive and Freading, which allows me to get audiobooks and ebooks on my devices. Some really exciting news is this new thing called Hoopla! With it you can get movies, music, TV shows, and more onto your computer, phone, tablet, and a variety of different ereaders. Lots of really great selection too. It’s no Netflix, but it’s no slouch either. The best thing is that you’ll probably find some really interesting stuff while browsing that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Check it out, and see if your library is using Hoopla yet!

So you see, you don’t even have to use the library conventionally, ie. get physical things to get your value out of having a card. I know Jessica loved being able to get lots of ebooks through the library while she was traveling in Ireland. Super handy for stuff like that where you don’t want to have a lot of baggage.


4. A place away from home or the office

Being a photographer currently working out of my apartment means thta if I don’t put in an effort, I can easily end up staying inside the whole day. A lot of the time, the simple act of getting out to a different place to work can be beneficial for productivity, creativity… pretty much all around a good idea.

Coffee shops are good. In particular it’s very nice to hang out at a Starbucks conjoined with a Chapters so that I can poke around the books if I need a break. Again, there are some advantages to heading to the library for this kind of reprieve. There is the benefit of having designated quiet areas, in case you need some solitude. I also find that if I need some inspiration, nothing beats combing through some of the huge photography or art books you can find at the library. Sure the bookstore has some cool coffee table books, but you can’t really grab a bunch and set up at a table like you can at the library. Taking an afternoon to just flip through some photography history books has really given me some clarity and growth when it goes to my creative vision. I’d recommend checking out Arnold Newman, Paul Strand, Edward Weston, and Yousuf Karsh – if you’re into that kind of thing. One of my favourite Karsh portraits: Ernest Hemingway

Libraries can have some of the most beautiful interiors, and really offer a great place to work away from the distractions, and the deadly comfort of home.

Interior of the Seattle Public Library… you lucky bastards. © 2008 Christmas w/a K on Flickr

What do you like most about the library? Or do you prefer to relax/work/read at home most of the time? Comment below!

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Bryan can most often be found taking photographs for his commercial studio Cooper & O'Hara, but he also has a passion for cooking, zoology, travel, science, entertainment, design, and creativity in general. Email Me