Grunion Gazette - Long Beach

Monday, March 2, 2015  |

ANOTHER VIEW: Libraries Offer Free Resources To All

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Posted: Thursday, August 2, 2012 3:30 am

Check it out! Libraries are changing to meet the needs of the entire community:

So how will they help you as we move further into the digital age?  Beyond books and community programs, they make it easy for you to use an amazing wealth of all things digital — eBooks and audiobooks, music downloads and databases. Online, you can explore special library resources — light years beyond Google — through smartphones, eReaders etc., and they are always available, not just during library hours. 

You can find specially targeted resources for your children and your business, for disabled family members, and more. You can even get help online from a librarian five days a week.

The resources are free — all you need is a library card. Librarians have made it easy and fun to explore a rich array of materials and to join an online community for all ages through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Below are just a few highlights of the resources available at

• Downloads: eBooks, Audiobooks, Music, and Apps: The library has a fast-growing collection of eBooks, including many best-sellers, which can downloaded to Kindles, Nook and other e-Readers, iPads, smartphones, computers and other devices, as well as thousands of audiobooks for iPods and MP3 players. Freegal Music and the Freegal app offer library cardholders free and legal downloads of three songs a week. The library website includes many easy-to-use tutorials, and online library help is available by chat or text in the popular new Ask Us! feature. 

Your friends and neighbors check out 6,000 digital items a month, with popularity growing as Long Beach library users discover the wide variety of materials. The LBPL Mobile app also lets users manage a library account and discover what’s new at the library. For example, you can reserve a book, extend the due date, or request delivery to a nearby library, all with the touch of a finger. 

• Children and Youth: Interactive book collections, from picture books for pre-schoolers to “read-along” books for older children and English language learners, with great stories and quizzes, puzzles and games to go with them, are a wonderful supplement to in-person sessions with children’s librarians, and they are an engaging way for parents to help their children read. This year your entire family — kids, teens and adults — can also participate in the Summer Reading Club online, and you will find additional ideas on the library’s Facebook and Pinterest pages. Check it out to see what surprises are in store. See

• Databases and Research Materials: They range from newspaper archives to test preparation, health information and auto maintenance. Through Mango Languages you can learn English or 46 other languages — ever wanted to speak Chinese or Urdu?  Anyone trying to start or maintain a business, submit legal forms, or develop technical skills in information technology will find essentials here. If you love history or genealogy, you will appreciate the Digital Archive for the online collection of city directories, high school yearbooks and historical photos of Long Beach.

The library provides these materials free to patrons, but the costs it must pay to subscribe to them are significant. Librarians are needed to manage the website, provide online help, and help users navigate the ever-changing digital landscape. As more Long Beach residents discover the amazing wealth at their fingertips, we hope they will realize how important it is to support this vital community institution. We all benefit!

Margaret Farwell Smith is president of the Long Beach Public Library Foundation.