Your very own home library branch

Hello, friends of the Free Library. It’s been a while.

I needed to take a break from the blog for reasons I won’t get into here. I had grand plans for a spring relaunch, but, well, y’know.* We’ll be back on our branch visitation game as soon as it’s safe. Pinky swear.

In the meantime, did you know that you can register for a library card online? It’s a great way to gain access to the library’s digital collections without leaving your home. I expect most of our readers will have a library card already, but tell your friends!

If you’re usually more of a physical book person, you might not be familiar with the Free Library’s digital offerings. There are a few different options for borrowing ebooks and digital audiobooks. I use Overdrive most often because of the high borrowing limit – you can have 6 books out at once! I also enjoy Hoopla‘s extensive catalog, but users are limited to 4 borrows per month. (Looking to maximize those borrows? Book Riot has a list of the best books on Hoopla right now.)

Of course, there’s more to the digital collections than books. If you’d like to spend some of your time at home learning something new, there are a number of online learning opportunities. You can pick up a new language with Mango, expand your professional skills with Lynda, and even get free live tutoring for K – 12 students.

Plus, there are some lesser-known gems in the digital collections. The Free Library has digitized over 50,000 historical images, which you can even browse by neighborhood. And did you know that you can get unlimited 72-hour passes to read The New York Times online?

Get access to all of this and more by visiting the full catalog of the Library’s digital offerings.

I’m looking forward to picking these branch visits up where we left off, as soon as it’s both possible and reasonably safe. In the meantime, I hope these tips help to get you through these challenging times.

Stay safe, be well, wash your hands, and I’ll see you again soon.

*If you’re reading this from the future, Philadelphia is approaching the end of its second week under a stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus pandemic. Library branches have been closed since March 15.

Who can get a library card?

First things first. We’re going on an adventure together! When you step foot in a library, you’re probably going to want the full experience. The books — or at the very least a book — will want to come home with you. Let’s get things squared away in advance, shall we?

Free Library of Philadelphia locations are open to the public, but you’ll need a library card to access a lot of what the library offers. Lots of people can get cards for free, and people from outside the area can pay for a card.

Free membership

There are two main groups for free membership.

  • People who live, work, go to school, or pay taxes in Philadelphia
  • Pennsylvania residents

$50/year membership

Don’t meet one of the above? People who live in other states can get a Philadelphia Free Library card for $50/year. This can be a bargain for anyone who uses everything the library has to offer.

Get your own library card

You can apply online, apply in person, or carry a paper application into a branch. Get all the details here.

Then get borrowing!