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You’ve been to the library. You’ve studied here. You’ve checked out a book or two. You know where the closest branch is to you and you love the library. But did you know you could do the following 20 things at the San Antonio Public Library? We hope this list inspires you to take a trip to your local library, to discover something new and fun for yourself and your family.
1. Check out books and DVDs
Okay, so maybe you already knew that. But did you know you can check out up to 50 items at once? You can have up to 50 hardback and paperback books or magazines checked out on one library card at one time. This includes five DVDs per card, 10 music CDs, 10 audiobooks and 15 eAudiobooks and eBooks.
2. Check out a book at 3 a.m.
Can’t make it into one of the library branches during regular business hours? You can access SAPL’s entire collection 24/7 at mysapl.org. Place a book on hold to pick up later, or download an eBook straight to your computer or mobile device. You can also access databases, log-on for free online homework help and check out the schedule of upcoming events.
3. Experience other cultures
SAPL celebrates the diversity of the San Antonio community and offers many programs and resources in both English and Spanish, including book clubs, children’s story times, technology, homework, job help and more. The library also celebrates diversity with cultural programming during Native American Heritage Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Hispanic Heritage month and other national yearly celebrations.
4. Improve your computer skills and learn how to use mobile devices
Like the Apple Store Geniuses or Bust Buy’s Geek Squad, SAPL staff is available to assist you with learning how to use your own mobile devices including smartphones, iPads or eReaders, and how to use the library’s own digital services and equipment. You can also find help learning software and programs related to job searching or career advancement.
5. Play Video Games
Teens 13 – 18 can visit the library to play the latest video games with their friends. You can event take part in a tournament, or create games and activities surrounding your favorite games. Children can play fun and educational computer games on specially-designed computer terminals. Adults, don’t feel left out. Take advantage of the Library’s public computers and free WiFi to play your favorite online games.
6. Learn how to knit/embroider and do other fun crafts
At SAPL you can learn to knit a scarf, make a blanket, crochet, embroider, you name it. Join an existing club or start your own. Library branches offer numerous opportunities to use your hands in creative and artistic ways. Whether you’re learning woodworking, scrapbooking or painting, visit the library for help.
7. Read to a dog
Who let the dogs in? SAPL did. Trained therapy dogs lend their ears to eager readers at Brook Hollow, Guerra, Igo, Pan American and Parman branch libraries weekly. The program allows readers to practice the skill of reading in a fun and relaxing environment. Help build your child’s reading skills and self-esteem with Read to a Dog. Bring your favorite animal story to read, or choose from one of ours.
8. Find a long-lost ancestor
Located at the Central Library, the Texana/Genealogy Department acquires, preserves and offers access to research materials relating to San Antonio, Bexar County and Texas history, and North American and Hispanic genealogy. Home to historical books, periodicals, maps, newspaper clippings, city directories, census records and military records, these collections are some of the Library’s most valuable resources. Texana also offers free classes each month covering genealogical research and a variety of other topics. Writing a paper for school? Researching your family tree? Let the staff at Texana/Genealogy guide you. You can also access Ancestory.com for free on any of the library’s public computers.
9. Get copies of your important records
A program partnership between the SAPL, the Office of the City Clerk and San Antonio Metropolitan Health District means that birth certificates and immunization records (for those born in 2005 or later) are available at four branches of the San Antonio Public Library- Great Northwest, Las Palmas, Mission and Thousand Oaks.
10. Register to vote
All 26 Library locations are designated for voter registration. Every person of voting age, who applies in person for an original or renewal of a library card, will be given an opportunity to complete a voter registration application form. Already have a library card? You can still register to vote at any location. Many SAPL locations are also official voting sites.
11. Download and KEEP 5 songs a week
Thanks to SAPL’s Freegal Service, library card holders can download and keep up to 5 songs per week. These include songs from Sony Music Entertainment artists in MP3 format. You can search the catalog by artist, song title or genre. In addition, cardholders can stream three free hours of music a day.
12. Make money and find career fulfillment
Whether you’re interested in switching careers, starting your own business or just sprucing up your resume, SAPL can help. Visit the Jobs and Small Business Center at Central Library for help searching for a job or to perform business research. Use our online career center for help with resume writing and interviews, or visit Learn at SAPL at Westfall, Bazan, Carver or Cortez branch libraries for help with GED preparation, basic computer skills training and more.
13. Explore works of art
Many of our library buildings themselves are works of art, and are home to extraordinary pieces like the “”Windmill Signifier” by James Hetherington at Igo Library and the “Fiesta Tower” by Dale Chihuly at Central Library. Branch Libraries also host exhibits and lectures by local artists as well as programs like family-friendly art instruction classes with ArtPace. Central Library is even home to the Marie Swartz Art Resource Center, the Southwest School of Art’s library of record, where patrons and visitors can access art books, journals, databases and programming.
14. Get live homework help from an online tutor, or take GED and other practice tests
Is your child’s algebra going right over your head? Take advantage of SAPL’s Live Homework Help, an online program that links students to qualified, background-checked tutors for live real-time coaching sessions. The service offers access to tutors in math, science, social studies, and English, for grade levels from fourth grade to introductory college courses, and in both English and Spanish. Mobile formats even allow users to access Live Homework Help from a smartphone or iPad. SAPL also offers Learning Express Library, a database that offers study and test prep guides to help students prepare for important tests like the ACT and SAT, get extra help with assignments, and boost their skills in important subjects.
15. Build a robot, fly a drone and learn how to code
Teens 13-18 are invited to experiment with technology at the library. SAPL offers the tools, devices, instruments, and equipment for teens to create and collaborate. You can learn how to use a 3D printer or 3D pen, code using an Arduino, build a robot using Lego Mindstorms, fly a drone, make your own movie using a green screen and iPads with iMovie and other cool tech stuff.
Imagine: it’s bed time, your child is ready for their bedtime story, and alas, you’ve read everything on the shelf and haven’t had a chance to pick up some new books from the library. Never fear, Dial-a-story is here. Call 207-4466 for a pre-recorded story in English and Spanish, read by our children’s librarians.
17. Get fit
Build your mind and muscles with health and fitness resources from the San Antonio Public Library. A number of library locations are home to outdoor fitness centers, walking trails and playgrounds. SAPL also offers classes in partnership with the San Antonio Department of Parks & Recreation including yoga and cycling. And don’t forget about the other fitness resources at the library, including workout videos, books on healthy cooking and more
18. Attend concerts, movie screenings and author lectures
Take advantage of all of the free and fun programming at the Library. Dozens of exciting events take place at local library branches daily, including movie screenings, author talks, book clubs, story hours, arts & crafts, exhibits, plays, performances and so much more. Family members of all ages can take part in fun events. Check our online calendar of events often at mysapl.org.
19. Impress your friends
Be in-the-know on the latest titles and be the first to discover the next great read with help from the Central Library Fiction Team and Reader’s Advisors at library branches. They can recommend titles based on your interests, and always know what’s new in the literary world. You can also find their suggestions online.
20. Keep us in your pocket
That’s right, keep SAPL with you at all times with the new mySAPL app. The app lets library card holders browse recent arrivals, check out the New York Times bestseller list, search the catalog, check the status of your holds and so much more. Don’t remember when your current checked out book is due, or want to renew a title? Use the app to check the status of your items or to renew your books. Need to pay a fine? Use the app to connect to our online payment system. Found a book at the store and want to know if it’s available at the library? Use the app and your phone’s camera to scan the book’s ISBN and search the catalog. The mySAPL app is just another innovative way that SAPL delivers services to the San Antonio Community.
*Featured/top image: Teens hang out and play games with friends at Central Library. Courtesy photo.