I grew up in a different era, during which I walked to school, was a latchkey kid, played outside until mom called me in at dark, and rode my bicycle to the library.  The library was a place to meet friends and do the research needed for homework.  Yes, imagine the horror of a world without Internet!  As AOL became a thing, I stopped using the library. If fact, there was a time I predicted the public library would become obsolete.

I have a friend who is a huge library fan. The library is her go-to place for books, audio books, magazines and movies.  Yet it was only a few months ago as I was researching ways for people living at the poverty line to save money that I became aware of the stunning number of events and resources the library offers.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library offers free access to Freegal Music (over 15 million songs), Hoopla (audio books, movies, music, comics, e-books and television), RB Digital (e-books, audio books and magazines), OverDrive (e-books, audio books, streaming video) and more.  Check out the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library calendar of events.    

The York County Library provides access to Pressbooks (allows you to create professional quality e-books and print ready files), Flipster (magazines), Freegal Music, Hoopla, OverDrive, RB Digital, TumbleBookLibrary (talking, story and chapter books, puzzles, games, songs) and more.  Check out the York County Library calendar of events.  

Like the others, The Gaston County Public Library also has a broad selection of online databases and links.  Check out the Gaston County Public Library calendar of events.  

For groups, nonprofits and businesses, many branches rent meeting rooms at reasonable fees.  I had a chance to chat with Austin Powell, a partner at Blue Financial who was hosting a workshop on maximizing social security benefits at the Steele Creek branch on Jan 8th.  Austin told me “The local libraries in the greater Charlotte area have provided our business with a great venue to educate our community about Social Security. They have been extremely accommodating and are a wonderful place for locals to convene.”

Library cards are free for county residents.  If you want to use the library in another county, Charlotte Mecklenburg offers non-resident library cards for a $45 annual fee, York County for $25 annually and Gaston County $10 annually.  Stop by your local branch soon to see what you’ve been missing.  Free WiFi is offered at all branches.  Need help remembering to check the library to see if they have the book you are getting ready to buy?  Try the LibraryExtension browser extension which is compatible with the libraries in all three counties.

And don’t forget to cancel those paid online subscriptions you won’t need anymore.  Spend that extra money at one of our great local Lake Wylie area businesses.

Blog and photos by Erick Lake.

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