You can do that at the library?
Want to know a cost-saving secret? Livingston County’s libraries offer unique ways to help residents ease the pain of an economic downturn.
“Oprah just had on the thriftiest family in the country and they use their public library,” said Ceci Marlow Stuart, director of the Hartland Cromaine Library. “It’s simple, you come to our door, you get a library card, and we help you get what you want.”
Everyone knows libraries have the latest best-sellers and other interesting new books.
“If they would just call us and ask, there are so many different ways we can help them,” said Holly Hentz, director of the Hamburg Township Library. “If it’s not free, it is very, very cheap. I think a lot of people tend to think it is just books or children homework assignments. Libraries, across the board are so much more than that.”
Here are a few ways libraries are helping residents save money. Check with your local library to find out more information about what they offer.
Learn a new skill
Most Livingston County libraries offer computer training classes. At the Brighton Area District Library Microsoft office classes fill up quickly, some the day they are opened for registration. Classes include Powerpoint, Microsoft Word, and introduction to Photoshop Elements 4.0.
“They’re in very high demand,” Assistant Library Director Ed Rutkowski said. “We have classes for basic computer learners, classes on eBay, or scanning and burning digital pictures. That’s certainly a money saver. Particularly the Microsoft Office software classes, they fill up the day we open registration.”
Job search help
Starting Feb. 7, the Hartland Cromaine Library will open one hour early on Saturdays only to offer job seekers a chance to get to on-line services before other library users come in.
“We have a wonderful bank of computers and terrific support,” said Stuart. “We can’t necessarily find you a job, but we hope to give you the tools you need to find one.”
The service will be offered every Saturday through the end of April and then will be evaluated to determine if it will be offered additional weeks.
The Howell and Brighton libraries fax job application or resumes for free.
“We now fax resumes and job applications for free,” said Gerilee Cook, head of reference and adult services. “In December, we sent 53 faxes, 21 of them were job applications. We are doing a nice service for people and they are taking advantage of it. We want to do everything we can to help people.”
Get tips for free
In January, when all of us were thinking of our New Year’s Resolutions, the libraries were, too. The Howell Carnegie District Library offered “Organize to the Max” with consultant Monica Keifer. The session was free. The following night, the Howell Recreation Department hosted a session with another organizing expert. The price tag? $30. Each of Livingston County’s five libraries offer special classes and many are free. Call your local library for more information on what’s available.
Nearly all of the county’s libraries have scanners available for public use.
Free Wifi connections
All Livingston County libraries offer free wireless internet connections. Some libraries have seen an increase in wifi users in the past few months.
Audiobooks, eBooks and music can be downloaded directly to a computer with a system offered through the Brighton Library. Look for the Download destination on the library’s web site. The files can also be downloaded to an mp3 player or an iPod.
“This new system offers a little more flexibility,” Rutkowski said.
At the Fowlerville Library patrons can check out disks that can be downloaded specifically to be used for MP3 players or ipods, said Emily Marshall, Fowlerville Library’s programming coordinator.
Teen Gaming Nights
If you are looking for a place to play the latest video games, the Howell, Brighton and Fowlerville libraries offer special video game sessions for teens. At the Howell library every Wednesday afternoon from 2:30 to 6:30 the library hosts “Wii Wednesday.” On Thursdays, the library offers “Guitar Hero” from 2:30-6:30. The Fowlerville Library offers the Wii on Wednesday nights from 3-5 p.m.
“The gaming itself is really popular right now,” Marshall said. “It is pretty popular and we planning to have tournaments”
Auto repair manuals
The larger libraries have databases for on-line auto repair manuals such as Chilton’s.
Place a hold from home
With many of the libraries you can browse the library catalog and place a hold from home. Want a shot at the latest titles - get on the wait list.
“You can click on them and place a hold so you don’t have to drive back and forth,” Cook said. “You can request it from the list. If it is in, give us a call and we will hold it for you.”
Resources for children
The Howell library offers Leapster, and Hooked on phonics as well as a resource center for preschoolers. The library also has a beginning reader series for elementary students.
Live homework help is available from the Howell and Brighton libraries. Contact the youth services departments or visit the web sites, for more information.
Catch up on your favorite TV series
Many of the libraries have DVD sets for popular television series’ such as “The Sopranos” or “Lost.”
“We have started buying TV series,” said Hope Siasoco, director of the Pinckney Community Library. “It is amazing how that is such an on demand thing for people. We have the whole ‘Friends’ series. It is checked out most of the time.”
Movies for free
In conjunction with The Big Read program, that Hartland is offering, the library will show the film “To Kill a Mockingbird” on Feb. 5 at the Hartland Music Hall.
Siasoco said in Pinckney free movie times are big with the preschool crowd.
“One of the biggest draws for us is when we have preschool movie madness,” she said. “The kids come, and the moms come. It is almost like a free movie theater experience for them.”