The Free Library: More than just free books

SPRING GARDEN - September 15, 2008

Of course, you think of books when you think of the Philadelphia Free Library and its 54 neighborhood branches.

But you may not have known the library's also a place where you can borrow music C-Ds -- ranging from classical to show tunes, pop to jazz, hip-hop to rock.

You can also borrow DVD's, including the newest movie releases and television series.

And you can use computers and access the internet, all for free.

Johnson says that service is particularly important because fewer than half the households in Philadelphia have computers with internet access. And computers are becoming a necessity for people to find and apply for job openings.

Dana Washington of University City says her children use library computers several times each week for school.

If you don't want to pay for a daily newspaper, you can read the local editions -- and newspapers from other cities -- for free in the periodicals section.

And before you call a learning center for school tutoring or SAT prep courses, check with the library. They offer free after-school tutoring that is linked into the Philadelphia School District curriculum. And they also have SAT prep courses at several branches.

But you don't even have to be old enough to read to take advantage of the library's free services.

Many branches offer story times, with interactiving singing and dancing for toddlers. And the Parkway Central branch has special computers -- with games and little mouses -- that aren't connected to the internet, so curious little ones can't surf to potentially dangerous sites.

The library also offers a lecture series, bringing in authors of all kinds. Most of the lectures are free. The most they cost is $15.

There is one catch to all this "free stuff." You need a library card to take advantage of most of it. The good news is that the library card is also free.

You can register for one, learn more about your local branch and check out all the interesting possibilities offered by clicking on this link: Free Library of Philadelphia

For more information about libraries outside the city, try these links:

Pennsylvania libraries

New Jersey libraries

Delaware libraries

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