Library 2.0

Not Just About Books

Ash Sanders | Photos by Kevin Kiernan Jan 11, 2018

When Benjamin Franklin started the first lending library in 1731, its motley assortment of books barely filled a small room. Imagine Franklin’s surprise if he wandered into a library today. After exploring floors of books, he could catch a free movie, watch a hip hop performance or fire up a 3-D printer.

Today’s libraries are far more than repositories for the latest best-sellers and beloved classics. They’ve become clearinghouses for all kinds of creative events and endeavors, multimedia community centers where Franklin’s idea — that knowledge should be available to everyone — is alive and well. While every library is different and your local branch may not have the resources of a larger library, all libraries offer unique ways to learn and explore. Here, we offer five new ways to get the most out of your local library.

Get Experimental

You’ve got the eye of Ansel Adams, the vision of Steven Spielberg, and the storytelling chops of Ira Glass, but not the equipment to match. Don’t despair! The Creative Lab at Salt Lake City’s Main Library has the hardware (and software!) to solve your problem. Lay down some tracks at the library’s Music Station, where you can use its keyboards, pedals and editing software to make your tunes really croon. Take advantage of the lab’s cutting-edge cameras and green screens to make your silver screen debut. Design and print creations in 3-D, or use the laser-cutter to design everything from jewelry to greeting cards. Want more tech-savvy? Request a training from one of the in-house eggheads.

Ace the Database

Repairing your car? Studying for the ACT? Tracing your family roots? Mastering Adobe Illustrator? Thanks to the Salt Lake City Public Library’s cornucopia of online databases, you can do all the above and more for free, 24/7. With nothing but your library card, you can access ideas, information and tutorials on almost any subject, all from the comfort of your couch. Just visit to check out your options, then dive in. Learn a new language. Get help writing a resume. Hone your test-taking skills. And for crying out loud, fix that car already!

Entrance to library with pillars and windows
Woman working on computer in research area of library
Light coming into the library through many windows

Online Once-upon-a-times

There might be no such thing as a free lunch, but there is such a thing as a free book, movie or song. Get digital and check out your library’s collection of online music, audio- and e-books, and films, thousands of which are available to stream or download for the low, low cost of a library card. Listen to Bach on your morning commute, keep up with “Moby-Dick” while you work the elliptical or watch the latest Oscar film shorts inside a pillow fort in your living room.

Be Lazy

Take it easy and let the staff at Boise’s Public Library bring your items on hold out to your car. It’s true. The Idaho library launched its new curbside hold pickup service in 2017. Just park in the designated spot, call 208-954-6777 (Main Library), or 208-972-8300 (Library! at Cole & Ustick), and your items will be hand-delivered. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Have your library card or photo ID ready.    

Put on Your Thinking Cap

Put a bookmark in your latest novel and do some in-person learning via your local library’s smorgasbord of events. Check out 12 Minutes Max at Salt Lake’s central branch, a monthly showcase of local artistic talent from dancers to filmmakers to writers, all performing shorts. Whet your palate and dig out your palette for the Main library’s Bob Ross Paint-a-long, where you can learn to make your own happy trees. Peruse the print offerings at Main Library’s Alt Press Fest, or dazzle your synapses at the Marmalade branch’s TEDx talks, featuring some of Salt Lake’s best and brightest thinkers.

What are you waiting for? Get going! Explore your library’s alternative offerings, then get traditional and check out a few bona fide paper books. ’Cause you can’t have too much of a good thing.    

Share This Article With Your Community