9 things you didn't know you could do with a Vancouver Public Library card

Oct 29 2017, 10:03 pm

Thought your Vancouver Public Library card is only good for books and DVDs? Then you’ve most likely been missing out on the wealth of free resources that the library has to offer.

From musical instruments to video games, the VPL library card is a wonderful tool for anyone with a keen interest in arts, literature, and culture.

Not to mention—it’s all free!

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Check out our list of some of the most exciting, lesser-known uses of your VPL library card.

1. Geek out on video games and graphic novels

giant Super Mario statue and Nintendo logo at E3 2014, the Expo for video games on June 12, 2014 in Los Angeles

Giant Super Mario statue and Nintendo logo/Shutterstock

If books are not your cup of tea, then no need to panic. The VPL has an extensive library of video games and comic books offering popular games such as Minecraft, Star Wars, Destiny, Super Mario Bros, as well as the NHL and FIFA series. On the graphic novel side, there’s a surprisingly large collection, which includes Marvel, DC Comics, Japanese manga, and other styles from around the world.

2. Binge on great reads from your couch

If you prefer eBooks and audiobooks, there are great options for downloading a variety titles directly to your computer and mobile devices. Check out VPL’s digital library of eBooks and audiobooks, or simply search the library catalogue for specific digital versions of your favourite reads.

You can also download eBooks on your personal eBook reader, use the OverDrive App to read on mobile devices, or even view eBooks directly on your web browsers with the browser-based reader.

3. Become a producer at the Inspiration Lab

Terry McBride Recording Studio at Central Library / Vancouver Public Library

VPL’s new Inspiration Lab makes producing video or audio content within reach. The Inspiration Lab allows people to book a recording studio, digitization station, or creation station to record/edit audio and video as well as edit images. Each studio or station offers different equipment and software for varying needs.

4. Go back to school (for free) with Lynda

Lynda is considered to be one of the best platforms for online learning in the world. It presents users with a comprehensive selection of more than 5000 online courses and video tutorials on a wide range of topics, covering everything from graphic/visual design and photography to web development and business software.

5. Return to band camp with free musical instruments

If you long to learn a musical instrument, but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg to purchase one, here’s another thrifty option. The Sun Life Financial Musical Instrument Lending Library offers a medley of musical instruments to choose from. VPL’s website also provides video links on how to care for the instrument, as well as resource guides for learning how to play your borrowed musical treasures.

6. Visit 27+ attractions, including the Vancouver Art Gallery and Science World

Goh Ballet/Vancouver Inspiration Pass

Perhaps one of the most exciting and lesser-known programs at the VPL is the Inspiration Pass. You can place a pass on hold (note: expect an understandably long wait) and attend a variety of arts, culture, and recreational programs over a two-week loan period.

The program involves 27 partner venues and includes the majority of major museums, heritage sites, cultural centres, fitness and recreational centres in Vancouver. Our top picks: the Vancouver Art Gallery, Goh Ballet, Science World, VPB Ice Rinks, the Museum of Vancouver and more.

7. Stream critically-acclaimed films without paying for Netflix

If you are a fan of internationally acclaimed, classic filmmakers such as John Cassavetes or Akira Kurosawa, check out Criterion Collection and IndieFlix on VPL’s website. Criterion Collection serves a smorgasbord of classic and contemporary cinema from all across the world, such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940) and the more recently released, Kristen Stewart starring film, Personal Shopper (2016). IndieFlix also offers a varied selection of independent films, classic TV, documentaries, and shorts.

8. Get smarter with classical music and live concerts

Girl listening to music/Shutterstock

These two resources are real treats for music buffs, particularly those who enjoy classical music, folk, jazz, Chinese music, and world music. The Naxos Music Library boasts a complete selection of recordings of Naxos, Dacapo, and Marco Polo as well as selected recordings of hundreds of other popular labels, such as Sony Classical, Warner Classics, Decca, and much more.

If you’re interested in watching classical concerts, operas, documentaries, ballets, and master classes, sign onto Medici.tv. There, you can catch some of the most esteemed events and festivals live on the channel, including performances by the London Symphony Orchestra and the Opéra National de Paris.

9. Read (almost) every major news publication worldwide

For VPL cardholders, Zinio (RB Digital Magazines) and PressReader pretty much render magazine and newspaper subscriptions unnecessary. Zinio’s catalogue includes most magazines that one can think of, including The Economist, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Men’s Journal, Cosmopolitan, and Vogue. The best part? Users can access as many magazines and for however long they want, so there is no stress about returning magazines on a specific due date. You can also access PressReader for free, which offers digital versions of thousands of newspapers and magazines.