By Desmond R. Henry (Here's my moment of truth) Prior to a few years ago, I had maybe stepped into our Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library a handful of times. However, after needing a quiet place to study (with free Wi-Fi access), I began to be a frequent visitor & quickly learned how amazing the place is. So if you haven't checked out this hidden gem in awhile, here are 10 reasons to do so:
1.) Video & Recording Equipment. Have you ever wanted to record your own music, make a video proposal to your girlfriend like I did (My Video Proposal), or maybe start a podcast but don't have access to a recording studio? Don't worry, our library has a Make-It-Lab that offers its members FREE access to video & recording equipment. (Check it out here- Make-It-Lab)
2.) 3D Printing. Do you want to turn your three dimensional digital model into a physical object? The Make-It-Lab also has a 3D Printer that you can use. The cost of a 3D Printer would typically run you over $2,000 but library members get access to 3 hours of printing for just $5. (Check it out here- Make-It-Lab 3D Printer)
3.) The Genealogy Center. I bet you didn't know our library has a Genealogy Center on the 2nd floor in the Topeka Room. I know what you thinking...I didn't even know there was a 2nd floor to that place! Yep, this place is full of resources to begin searching your family tree such as access to yearbooks, military records, & obituaries. Don't know how to get started? No worries, they even have a Genealogy librarian to help. (Check out more details- Genealogy Center)
4.) Free Computer Classes. Are your grandkids bugging you to catch up with the times and setup an e-mail & Facebook account? The library can help! Or perhaps you got the basics down & are looking some more advanced help like digital photo editing & Microsoft Excel...they can help with that too. (Click here to see the Computer Class Schedule)
5.) Children's Discovery Center Passports. If you haven't taken your kids to the Kansas Children's Discovery Center, you are missing out on some serious interactive fun! The library offers eight one-time use passports that you can check out for free admission up to 2 adults & 5 kiddos. (See details here- KSDC Passports)
6.) Free Access To Consumer Reports. Looking to buy a new laptop or lawn mower? Check out product ratings & recommendations from a reliable source. This subscription would normally run you $30/year. (Click here for Online Access To Consumer Reports)
7.) Free Downloads. Parents often find themselves with no down time to sit back & crack open a good book. However, you probably have at least a 15-20 minute commute to work or that hour long wait in the car for soccer practice to end. Try listening to an audiobook! The library offers access to thousands of audiobooks for free thru their membership to Hoopla & OverDrive. You can download them to your smartphone or tablet. Matter of fact, the library offers an entire digital library full of music, movies, and magazines at your fingertips without stepping into the place. (Check it out the Digital Library here)
8.) Meeting & Study Rooms. Are you looking for a place to host your next meeting or event? Look no further than the library's 7 meeting rooms & 3 unique event spaces (call for availability & fees). Maybe you just need a quiet place to study away from your kids or to work on a small group project; the library has four study rooms available for free (3 hour limit).
9.) Kids Stuff. The library is a great place to take the kiddos for some free entertainment. They offer all sorts of educational programs such as Baby Bookworms, Toddler Time, & the Topeka Zoo even comes to visit with animals. Of course, my favorite is Musical Storytime with Kyler (He's The Kids' Favorite).(Check out the Kids Tweens & Teens Calendar of Events here)
10.) Don't Worry Old School Bookworms. You might begin to think that if the library has all these new extras, does it still carry actual hard copy books? Yes, beyond all the exciting things that the library is doing to stay current...it still has rows & rows of bookshelves just like it did when it started at 10th & Washburn in 1953.
Article written by Desmond R. Henry Fan of the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library