Where can you borrow telescopes, fishing poles, binoculars, cake pans, musical instruments, power tools, air compressors, VCRs, adaptive toys and more for free?
If you guessed your public library, then kudos to you.
More than ever, the library is going outside the box and lending out new equipment, tools and recreational items. This continually developing collection is referred to our “Library of Things.”
By simply signing up for a library card, this cabinet of wonders is opened for you.
September is library card sign-up month. This is a nationwide initiative led by the American Library Association that encourages people to sign up for library cards to foster academic achievement and lifelong learning.
This year, Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” characters are featured to promote the importance of having a library card for all ages.
If you are more of a traditionalist, you also can check out books and audiovisual materials. We have all the standard items such as CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, Playaways and new books.
But did you also know that we have items such as books and media in Spanish, DVDs with captions for those with visual and hearing difficulties, literacy books for adults with low reading levels and manga and graphic novels?
And then there are our digital collections. We have three apps for e-audiobooks and e-books: Hoopla, RB Digital (e-audiobooks only) and OverDrive. They are compatible with most devices, including iphones, Kindles and Androids.
While all three apps offer e-audiobooks, Hoopla also offers movies and music. Each app has a diverse selection of items, ranging from bestsellers to obscure and hard-to-find titles. If you like reading online magazines, be sure to check out our Flipster app.
Another perk of having a library card is that you can go to select local museums for free for up to four people, depending on the attraction. At this time, there are two attractions that are offered: The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature in Bradenton and the Big Cat Habitat in Sarasota.
Do you want to learn a new language, take a tutorial, explore a new career or learn about the latest health trends? With a library card, you will have access to our numerous databases.
They cover a variety of topics, including auto repair, business, citizenship, genealogy, social sciences, news, science and travel. They also offer opportunities to search for jobs, take practice tests for exams, access homework help and find information about companies.
Are you physically unable to get to the library but still want to check out items? Then you may want to explore our Books by Mail program. This program allows books and other items to be sent to homebound patrons.
Items that are sent include large print books, audiobooks, playaways and descriptive DVDs. Patrons need to live in Manatee County to access this service.
With all the free items and services that the library offers, there is no excuse not to get a library card.
Call your local branch for more information on available titles.
▪ Central Library — 941-748-5555;
▪ Braden River — 941-727-6079;
▪ Island — 941-778-6341;
▪ Palmetto — 941-722-3333;
▪ Rocky Bluff — 941-723-4821;
▪ South Manatee — 941-755-3892.
You also can access the library via the internet at mymanatee.org/library.
Rachel Suntop is a librarian at the Central Library. Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday in the Bradenton Herald.