One thing has become abundantly clear in isolation. Technology, while often criticised for privacy and anti-social reason, has massive power to connect us all. I’d argue that tech, in general, has helped many reconnect with friends and family more than ever. Tech can also help you reconnect with an old friend you may have forgotten about. I’m not on about that kid from primary school. Instead, I’m on about the library.
Online Library Services
If you think libraries are “just” full of books, think again. In my opinion, the libraries of Ireland have done more to pivot and survive in a digital world than most businesses. At the start of this year, I teamed up with Rob from the Dublin Smartphone Film Festival and recorded a podcast in the Ballyfermot Library. They’ve built two recording studios on-site, free to library members with just a booking.
Naturally, that’s not much use to you right now as you’re in isolation, living with restrictions like the rest of us but Irish libraries have plenty of services online for members to make use of at home.
Read Newspapers Online With Your Local Library
I’ve seen plenty of people on Twitter saying it’s now more than ever we need reliable journalism. From the FAI scandal to Covid-19 facts, quality journalism is what keeps power honest. It’s why Donald Trump tries to undermine the journalism that doesn’t suit his narrative.
Because of Covid-19 restrictions, people are more likely to go online and get their news from social media or other websites where they don’t have to pay. This can be risky as there are plenty of news sites out there being bankrolled by someone to tell the story in a certain way. Paid journalists are a lot less likely to do this.
When you have a library membership, you also gain digital access to some of Ireland’s most popular newspapers. Today, I was able to read the Irish Independent on my iPad and start into a crossword. This experience was great. All I needed to do was screenshot the crossword and then fill it in using my Apple Pencil.
There are other papers on offer here too including the Irish Examiner, Daily Irish Mirror, Washington Post and even foreign-language newspapers. I previously looked for the German Nordwest Zeitung in Dublin but can now check this out using my library membership. Beyond papers, there’s a massive selection of magazines to enjoy too. This would normally cost you a few euro down the shops, but now you can read them all on your phone, laptop or tablet. All you need is a library membership.
To access all of this content, you need to visit the Press Reader website and download their app. All you need to do then is log in with your library membership by typing in your membership barcode number.
The library also offers another dedicated service for just magazines. It’s worth checking that out too as there are some more things in there to read not available through Press Reader.
Download Ebooks With Your Library Membership
Perhaps not too surprisingly, you can also download ebooks with your library membership. You might think this would be a total free for all, but there are limitations. For example, each online library only has access to a certain number of books. This is why you may come across certain ebooks which are unavailable to download. You’ll need to wait until someone returns their digital copy.
Regardless of this small drawback, ebooks are another brilliant feature made available by the Irish Library Service. Like newspapers, ebooks are made available through a third-party app which you can log into using your library membership number.
Download the BorrowBox app to start downloading ebooks. You can also download audiobooks through the BorrowBox app too.
Take An Online Course
If you’ve found yourself laid-off from work with nothing but time on your hands, isolation might be especially tough. You might decide that the best thing to do is upskill and learn something new for when restrictions start to lift again. With a library membership, you have access to learn a new skill and even a new language. Although I’m not convinced the latter is that easy to setup.
The online courses made available by the library are really easy once you have your library membership. You can learn things like classic calligraphy or modern Photoshop skills. Right there, you have two ways into a new design-based job. Of course, I’m oversimplifying everything massively, but having free access to these courses means you can dip your toe in the water and see if something feels right for you.
Getting A Library Membership
This is all well and good if you have a library membership, but what if you’re not a member already? The good news is that you can join your local Irish library online. Typically, there is a step which requires you to visit your local library in person but this is not required while libraries are closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Once you complete your online membership application, you’ll have everything you need to access these brilliant online services from the Irish Library Service.