WAMU 88.5 : The Kojo Nnamdi Show

Behind The Scenes At Local Public Libraries

Over the last decade, public libraries have changed and evolved rapidly to meet patron demand. Directors must balance the budget, find new ways to use existing space and manage collections that include books and resources, both tangible and virtual. We talk with directors of three local systems about the role of the library in our modern communities.

Five Cool D.C. Area Library Tools You Should Know About

With the rise of e-readers, video streaming and online research portals, the idea of the traditional public library might seem out of step with the digital age. But many regional libraries are adopting new technology and engaging with readers in unique and varied ways. From digital downloads to community meeting spaces, there are many ways to get lost in thought at a local library -- and best of all, most of these services are entirely free.

Here are some of the coolest resources and tech initiatives available at the Washington region's libraries.

  1. Montgomery County Public Library offers a free collection of 100 digital magazines, including "The Economist," "Cosmopolitan" and "Rolling Stone." Patrons can download current and back issues of popular magazines and read them on their web browser, all without holds, checkout periods or a limit on the number that can be downloaded.

  2. Readers in Fairfax County can use the system's eLibrary to find transcripts and other primary source materials from radio and TV. For literature lovers, there's the LitFinder tool. The online resource contains full-text poems, short stories, speeches and plays.

  3. Last year, D.C. Public Library added a 3-D printer and scanner to its Digital Commons. The library offers classes on the basics of 3-D printing and scanning. For a nominal fee and your library card, your 2-D file can come to life.

  4. Prince George's County's online library includes 24/7 tutoring help. Students can get homework help from expert tutors and live help with foreign language classes from the Language Lab. There's also a resume service, writing assistance and test prep for adult learners.

  5. Every fourth Monday of the month, aspiring poets can share original poetry and exchange constructive criticism at Arlington County Public Library. The poetry workshop includes an online forum for questions and feedback, and the best poems are published on the library's website.

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