Looking for a quarantine activity? The city's virtual library provides free access to thousands of e-books, movies, and educational resources.
Who else could use a little distraction right now?
Lose yourself in a good book. Expand your mind by learning something completely new. Soothe your soul with music.
The library can help.
That’s right, the library. Even though all of the Austin Public Library’s physical locations are closed, the city’s virtual library is buzzing with possibilities. Austin’s virtual library has over 800,000 different items (including e-books, movies, online courses, and audio-books), all available for free, from your own home.
Never heard of the virtual library before? You’re not alone. That’s why The Austin Common sat down (virtually) with local librarians Amy Mullin & Maggie Bond to talk about the many ways you can enjoy the library’s resources, even during the pandemic. You can watch our full video interview and virtual tour (or check out our summarized list) below.
Here’s a few of the virtual library’s Services You Can Access From Home:
1. OverDrive – e-books, audio books, and video streaming
2. RB Digital – indie flicks, live music concert recordings, e-magazines
3. Great Courses – audio and video courses
Everything from “Becoming A Great Essayist” to “The Everyday Guide To Wine.”
4. Brainfuse – live tutoring in English and Spanish
Brainfuse offers live tutoring everyday from 2pm to 11pm for learners of all age groups – adults, college students, and kids.
“So Brainfuse is a fantastic way if your, say 8 year old, is studying fractions and and you haven’t touched fractions in 30 years,” Amy said, “send them to Brainfuse, and it will save you a headache trying to relearn fractions.”
5. Mango Languages – learn over 70 world languages
6. Electric Lady Bird – local music streaming service
Listen to commercial-free music from local bands 24/7.
PS – Electric Lady Bird is opening another round of artist submissions on May 1st. If you want your music to be featured (and earn a little extra cash), you can apply here.
“We’re also hoping this will help out a lot of musicians who couldn’t play SXSW, they’re not playing out right now,” Amy said. “This is a great way to get their music out there and we also do pay them if we accept their album for submission.”
7. Kanopy – stream documentaries, art house films, indie movies
8. Access your favorite magazines and newspapers for free – Austin American-Statesman and the New York Times are both available.
9. APL+ – the library’s beloved in-person programming… gone virtual!
“I am about to, hopefully,” Maggie said, “do a series of videos with my partner in crime, Julie, and we do the True Crime Book Club, and we cannot wait to talk to people and to engage with people a little bit that way…It’s going to be so fun.”
10. Book A Librarian – reserve 30 minutes of uninterrupted time with a reference librarian
Struggling to use any of these digital tools? Spending quarantine working on a research project and need some help?
“The amazing thing about being a librarian is that people ask us literally any question on earth,” Maggie said… And reference librarians like here are here help!
One last thing. Don’t have a library card? Here’s how to get one.
Even though the physical locations of the library aren’t open, you can still get an e-card here. E-cards are free for anyone who lives within Austin city limits and $22/ a year if you live outside the city. Your application will be processed within 2-3 days, and then you’ll have full access to all that the virtual library has to offer!
Have any more questions? Don’t be afraid to reach out to the library. As Maggie says, “We’re here for you.”