LIVING & AGING WELL

Seven surprising library perks

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Everyone knows you can check out books for free at your Douglas County Libraries branch, but did you know your local library offers so much more? Your free library card offers access to a wide variety of entertainment, learning tools and resources, adventures and experiences, and much more. Visit your library in person or online to discover something unexpected, like these seven things.

1. Entertaining at-home experiences

Your local library delivers backyard experiences to Douglas County residents through no-cost or low-cost kits that can be checked out with a library card. The library's Backyard BBQ package includes a full-size smoker, charcoal or wood chips, an assortment of cookbooks, yard games and disposable dinnerware. For a small fee, the Backyard Celebrations package is a self-contained party kit with all the trimmings for celebrating a child's or grandchild's birthday. And with the staffed delivery option, library staff will deliver the kit, as well as an entertaining storytime. Both packages are still available this summer.

2. State parks passes

The outdoors might just be the most popular place to be this summer. Your library allows you to check out a backpack containing a pass good for admission to any of Colorado's more than 40 state parks. Backpacks are available on a first-come, first-served basis and may not be put on hold. The pass is good for seven days, and with several state parks in and around Douglas County (and beyond), that's seven days of free exploring!

3. Laptops, musical instruments, binoculars, and other fun items

The library checks out nontraditional items that give you a chance to try something different without any financial commitment. Ukuleles, laptops, Nintendo game systems, sewing machines, hotspots, binoculars (handy with your Check Out Colorado backpack and parks pass), and telescopes are just a few of the items available to you. Visit your library's website to find a complete list of nontraditional items available for checkout.

4. Free online learning

If you've already got a library card, you can use it to learn a new language, software skills, or crafting techniques. Mango Languages offers step-by-step lessons for learning your choice of more than 70 languages. Looking to build tech or creative skills? Lynda.com offers thousands of video courses taught by industry experts. And Creativebug gives you more than 1,000 DIY crafting classes from renowned artists. All are free with your library card.

5. State-of-the-art recording studio

The library's recording studio is outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment for creating videos, musical compositions, e-books and more. The studio can be reserved with a library card and is the perfect place to create your own oral history or family video, or other digital product.

6. Free music, video/film streaming, and e-books

You don't even have to leave home to pick up a good book, audiobook or new music, and you can stream blockbuster movies, indie films, and documentaries from platforms such as Kanopy and Hoopla. You guessed it: All you need is a library card and a connected device to access these digital materials.

7. Archives and local history resources

If you're interested in local history, the library's Archives & Local History (ALH) department offers a wide-ranging collection that represents communities across Douglas County. The archivists, technicians and volunteers who staff ALH can provide research assistance and access to resources at their on-site reference desk, in addition to educational programming and events for schools and community groups.

Visit your local library or the library's website at www.dcl.org to explore these and many other free perks of being a cardholder.

Julianne Griffin is the Director of Customer Experience with Douglas County Libraries. For additional information, questions, or resources needed, please email jgriffin@dclibraries.org. This column is hosted by the Seniors' Council of Douglas County. For more information, please visit www.MyDougCoSeniorLife.com, email DCSeniorLife@douglas.co.us or call 303-663-7681.

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