Libraries offer more than books - The Buffalo News

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Libraries offer more than books

Every time I write about how to save money on books, I almost don’t even mention libraries – taking for granted that every thrifty person knows the library is the place to go for reading material.

But books are just the start of it.

“We’re not yesterday’s library,” said Mary Jean Jakubowski, director of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library system. “We’ve gone to great lengths to be a modern, warm and welcoming environment with programming for all ages and – oh gosh, look at that, we’ve got books, too.”

Yep, today’s libraries are stocked with movies, music and books – in hard copy and digital form. But even loyal library users may not be familiar with all the great, free services available.

• Free music downloads – for keeps! The library gives you access to the entire Sony music catalog – everything from Elvis and Mozart to Pharrell Williams and Justin Timberlake – and it’s all free and legal.

You can download three songs per week to your iPod, MP3 player, PC or Mac and keep them forever. Downloading the same music on iTunes would cost you $154.96 a year.

• Book your own personal librarian. This is the coolest thing. You can book an hour of a librarian’s time to help you with anything you need.

Whether you’re looking for information to help with your small business, trying to trace your family tree, researching an illness; or just want help finding a good book to read for yourself or your child, you can schedule time with a librarian to walk you through it.

• Book a technology trainer. You can also book one-hour blocks of time for one-on-one tech training.

Staff members can teach you everything from the basics of computing (how to use a mouse, how to search the Internet, how to send email attachments) to more advanced computer stuff (how to use software programs such as Microsoft Excel, Word and PowerPoint) and even how to set up a Facebook or Skype account.

You also can get personalized training on how to use your Kindle or iPad, and how to download library books to your e-reader or tablet. The only thing they don’t do is troubleshoot computer problems or repair computer hardware.

For information, call the Central library, 858-8900, or go online,


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