Around the country, public libraries big and small provide free access to hundreds of resources. As society has moved into the digital age, so has your local library. You may already be familiar with your local library’s many, tangible, in-person resources—printed books, after school programs, art shows, workshops, etc.– but have you explored their online offerings recently? In addition to the online catalog and book request features you may be expecting, many libraries have a whole litany of online subscriptions available throughout the calendar year! While libraries across the country are closed or offering limited hours due to the pandemic, many libraries have expanded their already extensive online offerings. From e-books to audio books to free access to research or learning databases, your library card can unlock a world of possibilities right from the comfort of your computer screen!

What can I find at my local (online) library?

Library of Requirement by Eun Seo Chui, Painting. Grade 7, Chadwick International School, Korea. Yea Hyung Shin, Educator.

Well that, my friend, is up to you to find out. But we’ll tell you as much as we can!

Although every local library will have access to different online resources, we’ll explore a few of the cool options we’ve found at public libraries in the RAL community. Most virtual resources require a library card to access, so be sure to look up the website for your local library to learn more about what they have available. Read on for some surprise treats you might expect to find at your local library (we make no guarantees, but encourage you to explore for yourself)! 

Libraries across the state of West Virginia are keeping their WiFi open, even when the library is closed, so that local residents may continue to access free WiFi courtesy of the public library system. The free WiFi is an extra win if you’re itching to get your hands on some new free e-books and audio books through the West Virginia Digital Entertainment Library Initiative (WVDELI).  

Out of the Rabbit-Hole by Jacqueline Marks, Sculpture. GRade 7, Archer School for Girls, CA. Carolyn Janssen, Educator.

Calling all students of Manitowoc, Wisconsin! Did you know that your local Manitowoc Public Library, in addition to being an RAL Adjudication Partner, also provides local teens with access to free online tutors

And back at Albany County Public Library in Laramie, Wyoming, the libraries have compiled a list of their favorite online resources for reading and learning at home. Alabama’s Mobile Public Library Administration (encompassing all of the libraries in Mobile) has free access to Universal Class’s video-based courses in over thirty subject areas, in addition to their full list of free resources to watch, read, or learn from home. 

Have some spare time on your hands? Why not learn a new language, like through Manhasset Public Library in Long Island, New York? Or perhaps you’re more interested in researching your genealogy, like through the San Diego, CA Public Library’s subscription to

Perhaps you would rather peruse your city’s local arts scene via the library, like through the Metropolitan Library Service Agency’s (a regional branch of the Minnesota State Library, another proud RAL Adjudication Partner) free smART pass subscription. 

As you can see, we’re excited about all our local libraries have to offer. In all this digging, our biggest takeaway was that no matter where you’re from or how big your town (or library) is, librarians are working hard to keep reading, learning, and culture within our reach. Search for your local library’s website to learn more and start exploring!

Have something thoughtful to share?

Email us at to share your inspiration. We want to hear from you! #thoughtfulthursday

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