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We all know that libraries are full of books, but here are five resources that the San Mateo County Library offers that you may not even know about yet.
With language lessons available in 22 different languages and ESL classes for 14 different native languages, Mango is a user-friendly language learning database that's freely available to you with your SMCL library card. Whether you're brushing up on a language for an upcoming vacation or looking for lessons to start you from scratch, Mango is an amazingly powerful resource. Check it out and see for yourself!
Free lawyers? In the library? It's true! Several branches of the San Mateo County Library, in partnership with the San Mateo County Bar Association, offer free monthly legal clinics with private, 20 minute consultations with volunteer lawyers. These are real lawyers and the program is absolutely free. Sign up for Lawyers in the Library at the Belmont, Foster City, East Palo Alto, Half Moon Bay, and Millbrae branches to take advantage of this amazing program.
3. Pocket Sized Audiobooks
If you haven't tried these nifty little devices called Playaways, swing by your local branch and check them out. Basically, these are little mp3 players with audiobooks downloaded onto them. You check it out, stick in a battery and some headphones and push play! They really are that easy. They are perfect for walking, running and driving (if you have an audio input for your car). My favorite thing about Playaways is that they require no technical know-how or download time to work. Perfect for the technophobes! An upgraded version with higher quality audio and bright orange cases is also now available. Find them in the audiobook section of your local branch.
4. Audiobooks for your iPod
Did you know that we have iPod-friendly, downloadable audiobooks in our collection? The Northern California Digital Library has loads of downloadable audiobooks, many of which are ipod compatible (and even more that are compatible with other mp3 devices). If you are running your itunes on a Mac, you might also want to check out Myilibrary, which offers more Mac compatible downloads. I'm not going to lie-there is some setup involved (follow the instructions on the database you choose and call your local branch if you get stuck). Once you have the system setup and installed, it's a great way to get free audiobook content to your ipod.
Okay, you probably already knew that your public library was full of librarians, do you know why we're there? Sure, we can help you find a book on the shelf or help you use the catalog, but we can helps with a lot of other research questions. As a librarian, I consider a major part of my job to be helpful.
I can recommend books for you. I can recommend books for your twelve-year-old son. I can teach your grandmother how to use email. I can help you find unbiased consumer reports articles and reviews for a product you might be looking to buy.
I can help you find articles for your kid's homework assignment. I can help you find and print out your tax forms off the right government websites. The list goes on and on.
At the reference desk in the library, I find myself helping a lot of people with a wide variety of things like these. I'm sure that for every person I do help, there are probably five or ten people who don't even realize that we can help our customers with all of these tasks (and many more).
It really is the reason we're there. So the next time you need some help finding some information, don't be shy-ask your librarian!
Laura Calverley is a teen services librarian at the Belmont Library. When not reading books about vampires and werewolves, she enjoys hiking, photography, and crafting. She is totally on Team Edward.