Local public libraries are treasure troves of information and I often visit them while traveling. Have you visited or considered visiting a library while on a trip? As it is the McCool Travel mission, I will show you how to save money and have more fun by visiting libraries.
Here are 8 great reasons to visit public libraries when you travel:
- free Internet. You can use PCs with internet access at libraries to check e-mail, let everyone know you are safe and having fun, plan routes, make travel plans, and so much more. If you brought your own laptop or iPad, you can link into free wi-fi service. Some libraries extend the wi-fi to their parking lot (24×7).
- safe haven. Face it, sometimes you need a break from all your travels. Or, maybe it is just a gloomy or bitter cold day. Public libraries can be a cozy retreat and recharge station.
- local information. I like to tell my seminar attendees that librarians are real people with real advice. Ask librarian to suggest things to do, places to visit, and authentic places to eat. Look for (or ask) for local newspapers, especially annual “Best of” editions with reader’s choices. Local newspapers often have advertised specials or discount coupons–for dining, attractions, and lodging.
- meet people. Most libraries host community meetings and post information about local events. I have stumbled upon meetings for genealogy, local history, classic cars, and author talks.
- book sales. Most libraries sell used books, magazines, CDs, and DVDs donated by patrons. You can buy new music or reading material for your road trip, gifts, additions for your home library, or useful travel aids (maps, guides). I have found all of these and more, and the price is right–usually $1 or less.
- temporary check out privileges. If you are staying somewhere for an extended time, ask about getting a permanent or temporary library card. You can borrow DVDs, CDs, and books (for FREE). If you are visiting for a short period, you may be able to check out items for a day or two by showing your home library card, driver license, or other ID. This is especially useful for borrowing local map books.
- extended hours. Often when I am traveling, I cannot make it to a visitor center before they close at 5pm. I am on a great scenic drive or hike that I do not want to cut short, just to get visitor information before 5pm. However, many public libraries are open until 8pm or 9pm. That is much more convenient.
- lodging information. Some public libraries have a list of local hotels, motels, and B&Bs. If not, you can use the above resources (computer, wi-fi, local papers) or ask the staff. They may, for instance, know of someone that rents rooms or if the local university dorm is available.
An example that demonstrates many of these elements. Many years ago, I visited the archives library in Trier, Germany to do some family history research. Even though I was not successful in finding information in their books, one of the staff researchers recognized the family name as being from local villages (which I knew from internet research from home). The researcher looked up the name of someone with that last name and gave me the address. I visited the house the next day. That person did not speak English but took me to the village doctor who did. In fact, he was a USA WW2 army veteran that moved there after the war. He and his wife hosted me for the better part of a day helping me learn the town history.
Charles McCool can be contacted directly by email (CharlesMcCool -at- gmail -dot- com).
© 2011, Charles McCool