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The UnCollege Blog

Hack Your Local Library

Stockholm Public Library

Free resources are a hackademic’s best friend. So why is it that so many people forget about one of the biggest and most valuable free resources around?

The public library is about more than just dusty books...but even if it were just books, that alone would be reason enough to visit. Instead of having to buy a book you might only read once, you can borrow it, read it, and give it back. It doesn’t take up space in your house, it doesn’t cost money. What’s not to love? How many places in the world can you get something for nothing?

But libraries are more than just the books they hold. Libraries are community and resource hubs.

Learn at Free Events

If you are looking to learn a new skill from scratch and have no idea where to start, your local library is the best, and most inexpensive option.

There are always events, speakers, exhibits and groups to join at libraries. Also, keep your eyes open for quarterly classes ranging from history to languages.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask an employee – they usually have the beat on local academic events.

Take Advantage of Free Tech and Meeting Spaces

If you don’t have high-speed internet or are in a temporary bind, libraries become an invaluable resource. With a library card, you can get time on the computer to get work done, do some research or try your hand at networking through social media networks like LinkedIn. Most libraries also have small private rooms or alcoves where you can host peer-to-peer learning groups, meetups and academic-driven events.

Learn from People and Experiences

Libraries are also a great place to learn by doing. Volunteer and give back to your community. Many of the people who run free events and spend endless hours researching in your local library could make for some amazing mentors. One sure way to put yourself into a prime learning situation is to offer to help and just spend more time with them.

If you refrain from approaching volunteering as a means to an end, but rather as a learning experience, you will be surprised at what you can pick up.

Libraries have evolved over time to adapt to our technology and our changing lives. Libraries are no longer just big buildings filled with books. They have much more to offer: networking, on and offline resources, volunteer opportunities and more. Most of us never know what awesome resources we are missing out on by not going to the library. So don’t miss out. Now you know how to hack your library and get the most out of your learning experience there. Now, there are no excuses.