Top 10 Best-Held Secrets of Your Public Library

WRITTEN BY LAUREL HALL | PHOTOGRAPHED BY NELS NORQUIST

The Brainerd Public Library’s children’s area offers Storyland: A Trip Through Childhood Favorites, an exhibit by the Minnesota Children’s Museum. Photo by Nels Norquist

IF YOU HAVEN’T VISITED A PUBLIC LIBRARY IN AWHILE, you are in for a big surprise. Far from the stuffy, silent reading rooms of years’ past, libraries have adapted and innovated to meet the needs of their communities. While you can still pick up a great read or get a question answered, you may have only scratched the surface of what your library can do for you.

North central Minnesota is largely served by the Kitchigami Regional Library System, with nine branch locations and a bookmobile. If you don’t live in one of the five counties served by KRLS (Beltrami, Hubbard, Wadena, Cass, and Crow Wing), call your own local library. You will almost certainly be surprised by the range of services and resources they can offer you.

eBooks, Audiobooks, and Digital Magazines

Books in print won’t be going away anytime soon—the Pew Research Center reported in 2016 that twice as many adults read paper books than e-books—digital reading materials have their place in our lives. Every regional public library system in Minnesota offers e-books as well as digital audiobooks and magazines. All of these can be accessed with your library card from the comfort of home.

 

Makerspaces with 3D Printers, Robots, and More

Snap Circuits are some of the fun and educational STEM-related technology tools available for use at the Brainerd Public Library. Photo by Nels Norquist
a 3D printer is one of the fun and educational STEM-related technology tools available for use at the Brainerd Public Library. Photo by Nels Norquist

A resurgence is building to emphasize STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning in schools from pre-K to college, as well as a growing interest for all ages in designing and making tools and gadgets to suit one’s needs (or just for the fun of it). The makerspace being built at the Brainerd Public Library includes two 3D printers, an iMac computer, a green screen, Sphero robots, Snap Circuit kits, and more. Orientation sessions and classes geared toward specific age groups are offered frequently.

iPads for Checkout in the Library

If you’ve been thinking about investing in a tablet but want to try one out first, the Brainerd Public Library has iPads you can check out and use anywhere in the library, without the pressure of the sales pitch.

Tool available for use at the Brainerd Public Library. Photo by Nels Norquist

Technology Classes

What if your response to the above is “I haven’t used a computer in years, and don’t know where to start?” Computer and tablet classes are offered monthly at the Brainerd Public Library for absolute beginners, and on subjects like web search skills, cloud storage, iPads, and popular

software programs. The best part: no tests, ever.

Early Literacy Play Spots

Storyland: A Trip Through Childhood Favorites, an exhibit created by the Minnesota Children’s Museum, encourages active learning by immersing children and adults in seven well-known children’s books, including The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter and Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill.

The exhibit will be at the Brainerd Public Library through late February 2018.

 

Book Club in a Bag

If you belong to a book club or are thinking of starting one, the Book Clubs in a Bag available for checkout at the Brainerd Public Library, Bemidji Public Library and Wadena City Library will make your life easier. Each bag contains ten paperback copies of the same title, a guide for discussion and more ideas to create an engaging experience with your group. Nearly two hundred titles are available, and each bag checks out for six weeks at a time.

Katy Brothen and her daughter, Kari, 2, enjoy the Peter Rabbit interactive play area at the Brainerd Public Library, created by the Minnesota Children’s Museum. Photo by Nels Norquist

 

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