Five awesome resources to access with your library card

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The local library: what can you get there besides books, right?

A lot, it turns out.  Here’s a look at some of the hottest resources you can access for free with your library card.

eBooks and Audiobooks

In the age of digital media, your lending privileges aren’t limited to paperbacks and hardcovers.  A Charlotte Mecklenburg library card also gives you access to over a dozen different libraries of electronic materials.  One of the most popular and expansive is OverDrive, which allows you to download available E-books to your personal computer, tablet or other mobile device.  The Libby app developed by OverDrive makes it easy to search for, download and read or even listen to available titles.  OverDrive titles can also be read on your Kindle or in the Kindle app on any mobile device.

“Most people probably already know about E-books,” says Ellee Wallace,  “but my grandmother was so surprised! She had no idea she could get a Kindle book from the library.”

For those who prefer listening to reading, your library card also gives you access to Hoopla, a popular lending platform for eBooks and audiobooks.  “If you search the Mecklenburg library site and find an audiobook you want, you ‘check it out’ and then it is immediately available in your Hoopla app for two weeks,” says Lindsay Birmingham.  “I love it because I can access a ton of titles without physically going to the library, and the audiobook selection the library has is great!  I don’t have time to read but I am stuck in my car every day and it has been wonderful to utilize that time by listening to audiobooks.”

Continuing Education

Whether you are looking to learn for professional or personal purposes, the library likely has a course for you.  Online educational sites like Lynda and Universal Class offer Charlotte Mecklenburg Library patrons access to thousands of courses in different content areas.

“Lynda is an online learning platform that lets any self-motivated person learn business, software, technology and creative skills to achieve their goals,” says Emmanuel Jourdan.  “I’ve used Lynda to improve my excel, database and programming skills among other things.  I was very excited to find out that the library offers free access to Lynda because you typically need to pay up to $29.99 a month to access the content.  So now I can use my library card to access the 13,000+ courses and learn to my heart’s content.”

Universal Class is another site with educational offerings, some of which can be used for continuing education credit.  “I was very excited to learn that you get access to it because I love to research and learn new things,” says Jennifer Allen. “I use it to learn about nutrition and early childhood development.  Recently I found a course on anxiety therapy, which I feel helps me learn empathy for mental illness; as I don’t suffer from it, I have a hard time understanding it.  I also am taking business management courses because it is a goal of mine to own a used bookstore that will, hopefully, carry us through retirement and be passed on to our children.”

Career Guidance

Your library card also gives you access to a wealth of resources to assist you in a career or job search.  Ferguson’s Career Guidance Center, for example, offers resources for career exploration and planning. “One thing I found under there that I thought was kind of cool was you can take one of those self-assessment tests,” says librarian Melanie Lewis.  The site also features job and internship postings.

In addition to offering homework help in both English and Spanish, also provides career help including resume review, job searching and interview preparation.  “All ages are able to submit a resume and cover letter through and they will provide you with thoughtful feedback within twelve hours,” says librarian Lonna Vines.

Magazine and Newspaper Subscriptions

With your library card, you can access historical and current issues of popular newspapers and magazines.  Full text access is provided to current issues of the New York Times (as well as historic issues dating back to 1980) through InfoTrac Newsstand.  The library also gives you the ability to access text versions of current Charlotte Observer articles (as well as articles dating back to 1985) through Newsbank.  A separate historical database shows images dating back to 1892!  RB digital magazines (formerly Zinio) gives library patrons access to current issues of hundreds of popular magazines via the RBdigital app available for iOS, Android and Kindle.  

Kids’ Apps & Books

In addition to frequent in-person programming for young children, the library offers several digital resources for children.  PebbleGo Science, aimed at children in kindergarten through third grade, uses a leveled, simple-to-navigate text to teach kids life, physical, Earth and space sciences as well as engineering and technology.  Tumble Books is a collection of animated, talking picture books on a wide range of topics.  NC Digital Kids Library, a collection of ebooks, audiobooks, streaming videos and read-alongs designed for children from pre-k through fourth grade, includes picture books, fiction and nonfiction.  OverDrive offers collections specifically for kids and teens.

And so much more!

Want to learn a new language?  Mango Languages offers courses in over 70 different foreign languages.  Need to learn more about your family’s history? “library edition” is available to access at the library.  Need to practice for the SAT or ACT? Check out TERC, the Testing & Education Reference Center.  Download free music every week with Freegal, read authoritative and up-to-date repair and service information on your car, or publish your own work with Pressbooks or SELF-e: it’s all there for you at the public library!

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Mary Beth Foster
Mary Beth Foster works part time as an essay specialist at Charlotte Latin School and full time as a mom to her eight-year-old daughter Hannah and her six-year-old son Henry. Prior to having children, she worked as a high school English teacher for nine years. Most recently, she chaired the English department at Queen's Grant High School. She and her husband have lived in Mint Hill with their children and their cats since 2011. Email: