Benjamin Franklin would be astonished were he to enter the doors of Thayer Public Library. When Franklin and his buddies in the Leather Apron Club, or Junto as it was later called, first conceived of the lending library model back in 1731, its main goal was to establish a communal collection of books.
But then again, Franklin was also an incredibly forward thinker, inventing an endless stream of useful items such as the swim fins, bifocals, and the lightning rod. He also found the time to write Poor Richard’s Almanac and serve as one our country’s Founding Fathers. So Franklin no doubt, would be pleased by the wide variety of items that are now available at your local library.
In addition to the standard offering of books and other periodicals, patrons at Thayer Public Library can also borrow movies, books on tape, audio CDs, video games, and personal players, take computer classes, visit museums at a discounted rate, and participate in an endless variety of programs. And true to Franklin’s mission, all of the offerings at the library are free.
Here at Making Cents, I’ve talked about some of the great programs at Thayer Public Library before. But I feel the need to talk about some of them again because the offerings are so vast and varied. Below are just a few:
Portable Players for Kids
The newest addition to the Children’s Department is the Playaway View. The hand-held device is perfect for small hands and comes pre-loaded with up to 8 hours of video programming. But the players don’t just play videos for the children to passively watch. Instead, many of the titles are actually books that have been recorded, along with the illustrated pages, so little ones can follow along while the story is read. Each Viewer offers programming from providers such as PBS Kids, Tumblebooks, Sesame Street, National Geographic, and Nickelodeon and is suitable for children up to grade 5. Each player is available for a weekly rental (with an additional one week renewal) and up to two rentals per family.
Video Games on the Cheap
I don’t know about you but I am sick of watching my sons give their money away to video game vendors. With some costing as much as $60, it’s pretty hard to stomach. A much better alternative would be to visit the video game collection at the library. You’ll find the latest games for xBox, PS3, and Wii. Titles do tend to fly off the shelves so you’ll want to be a frequent visitor to catch the latest offerings. The Video Game collection is located on the lower level in the Young Adult section.
Get Your Music for Freegal
The Freegal music service at Thayer can be a great alternative to iTunes, which charges about $1.29 per song. Using the service you can download songs from the Sony Catalog free of charge. You are allowed three free downloads per week and the music library, though not as extensive as Apple’s, does feature some good artists. You’ll find offerings from current-day artists like Adele and Kelly Clarkson, as well as a wealth of classics including Aerosmith, Reo Speedwagon, and The Psychedelic Furs, among others. You need a Thayer Library Card and personal pin to access the site.
Living in such close proximity to Boston, we are fortunate to have so many museums that we can visit. However, the cost of such an outing certainly adds up. The admission price to the Museum of Science, for instance would cost about $80 for a family of four. The Museum Pass program at Thayer is the perfect cost-saving solution. Each Pass offers greatly reduced admission prices or sometimes offers free admission, depending on the museum. The program includes passes for the John F. Kennedy Library, the Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Science, Children’s Museum, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, among others. The museums are snapped up quickly, particularly for school vacation weeks, so you’ll want to plan accordingly.
Forget Netflix, Visit the Library Instead
My favorite part about perusing the library’s video collection is that it reminds me of the old days when you would visit your local video store to rent the latest movies. There was something exciting about looking through all of the titles and hoping the movie you wanted to see was in stock. Thayer has a vast video collection all its own but you can also borrow a video from any library in the Old Colony Library network. That means, if the movie you want to see isn’t on the shelves, or Braintree doesn’t own it, you can request it from any other library and place a Hold on the item. You’ll get a phone call, or an email if you sign up for it, when the title is received in Braintree. Simply search the Catalog for the movie you want to borrow and click the Hold button. You'll need to provide your library card account number and pin to place the hold.
Computer Training Classes
The librarians at Thayer, when they are not busy recommending titles or checking out items, are also teaching some pretty popular computer classes. You’ll find introductory courses on programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel, using websites like LinkedIn and Google (including mail,) a training session on how to borrow eBooks for your Kindle and Nook players, and how to effectively search the Library Catalog. Classes tend to fill up fast as space is limited to five attendees. New course schedules are posted in advance so if you can’t get into the current set of classes you can try for the next session. You can register online or visit the Reference Desk to sign up.