10 things you may not know you can do at the library for free

CharlotteFive photo

This piece was updated on April 5, 2018.

I am a library lover. Growing up, we had one library in our town and that was it. Charlotte has 20 branches to visit throughout the city.  I do that – I visit them.

Each is special in its own way: Sugar Creek is proud of its movie selection, Plaza-Midwood has Ms. Elizabeth, Morrison hands out free food to patrons and Independence has a great kids’ area.

When I asked the librarians, “What is the best thing to do at the library that many people do not know about?” here’s what they said:

(1) Download five free songs a week (that you can keep forever) through freegal.

– Seth at Main and Jeff at University City


(2) Place a hold on almost any material and have it delivered to a library branch of your choice.

-Kim at Main

the i can van

(3) Visit the Idea Box

It’s located on the first floor of the Main Library. It encourages inventiveness by supplying 3D printers, sewing machines, laser & vinyl cutters, knitting machines and more.

– Laura at Myers Park and Janesa at Main


(4) Attend free classes

Topics include job skills and how to download items from the library’s collection to an e-reader or smart device. Last year the library offered more than 22,000 programs with a total attendance of 354,850.

– Candy at Beatties Ford Road

free classes at the library

(5) Access the lynda.com library of instructional videos

The videos teach business, technical and creative skills. More than 3,000 courses with 129,942 video tutorials.

– Sarah at Main

(6) Learn a new language using Mango Languages 

Mango Languages is a language-learning software with over 70 world language courses and over 17 ESL/ELL courses, featuring an engaging user interface, voice comparison, fresh design, foreign language films, and cultural anecdotes.

– Kim at University City

(7) View old pictures of Charlotte neighborhoods

They can be found in The Carolina Room at the Main Library or at The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story, the library’s local history and genealogy website.

– Sarah at Main

(8) Borrow 99 items — the limit per card.

– Kristen at Matthews

99 items at a time

(9) Request Outreach Services for those who qualify

Outreach Services brings the library experience to a person who is home-bound, in senior housing, within correctional facilities, living with disabilities, living in transition or new to this country.

– Dot in Library Outreach Services

(10) Read digital versions of current magazines

This service is available online from home or from library internet computers. There are hundreds of magazines to view on your computer, tablet or smart phone.

– Lenny at Main


All programs listed above are free if you have an active library card, which is also free if you are a Mecklenburg County resident. Visit your local library or online for, you know, a free application.

Feature photo by CharlotteFive, images courtesy of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library staff.



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