With a stack of books on my coffee table and another few on my Kindle at any given time, I considered myself a Charlotte Mecklenburg Library power user until I began digging a little deeper and found that what I do with my card only skims the surface of what’s available to members.
Free to residents of Mecklenburg County, the membership is a true gift. Don’t have one? Here’s a quick run down of what you need to know:
- There’s no membership cost for Mecklenburg County residents, but there is a $45/year per household membership for non-residents ($35/year for senior citizens over 62). Applications can be filled out in person or online.
- Cards can be replaced for free one time before each replacement card costs $1.
- CMS students are automatically given their own library accounts using the ONE Access program.
- Members can check out up to 99 items at any given time. Books, music, audiobooks and cassettes can be checked out for 3 weeks with 2 renewals. Overdue fines are $.25/day for most books, media and DVDs, and can be paid in person or online. If a member has a balance of $5 or more, it must be paid before more materials can be checked out.
- There are 20 branches, and if yours doesn’t have the item you’re looking for, it can be transferred.
- The catalog for ebooks, audiobooks, movies and more is expansive and includes multiple databases such as Overdrive and Hoopla. While they’re all free, some may require the registration of a separate account. See all the options here.
It’s more than just checking out books. The number of services and resources, from proctoring services to accessibility services and special needs programs, provided to members is almost overwhelming. Here are 5 of the most unexpected.
See a full list here.
Find a job
The Main, Beatties Ford Road, Steele Creek and Sugar Creek branches each have a Job Help Center that’s part of the CARE3 network, a group of agencies that make the process easier. Each center comes complete with staff trained in job searches and in formatting résumés, plus books, guides and programs to help job seekers.
There’s also an online job board, updated daily with responsibilities, requirements and steps to apply, available to members.
In the event of losing a job, the library also makes it easy to file for unemployment and provides county and city resources.
Host a book club
Coordinating your monthly read just got a lot easier.
Book club kits, which are free to use, includes 10 copies of the book of your choice, plus author notes, discussion questions and more. There are 147 titles currently available in the library’s KitKeeper database, including All the Light We Cannot See, The Art of Racing in the Rain, Hidden Figures, I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman and The Happiness Project. See the full list here, and reserve one here.
The fine print: Kits can be checked out for 6 weeks and are non-renewable, with $1/day overdue fines. Details.
Learn about your ancestry
The Main Library is home to the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, which contains the largest collection of genealogical materials located in a public library in the entire state. In addition to access to Ancestry.com’s Library Edition, you’ll find resources from every state in print and online, including photos, postcards and most of the Observer‘s negatives from 1956-2000 in the Image Collection, yearbooks from CMS, family documents and one of the largest collections of music in the state.
See the full list of resources and what you’ll find on the 3rd floor here.
Choose from over 3,000 courses and 130,000 videos on Lynda.com
The online educational site usually requires a paid subscription ($25/month), but the library gives its members access to the full site for free.
Most classes are centered on technical and creative skills, but also include classes on business, mobile apps, podcasting, video, audio + music and design. See the full list of classes available to cardholders here.
Perhaps the library’s best kept secret, its two types of makerspaces give cardholders a place to create projects and experiment with tools they may not be able to otherwise (think laser cutters and 3D printers). There are two to know about:
Idea Box. You’ll find it in the Main Library, and it’s home to 3D printers, CAD stations, laser cutters, tablet devices and laser engravers. In addition to Open Monday (1-5 p.m.), Tuesday (4-8 p.m.), Wednesday (1-5 p.m.) and Thursday (4-8 p.m.).
Studio i. Located in the Loft at Imaginon, Studio i is geared more toward families and teenagers, and offers the tools to create animated and live action videos, podcasts, weather reports and music, including a sound recording booth, iMac computers, blue screen technology and more. Open Monday through Thursday (4:30-7:30 p.m.), Saturday (9 a.m.-12 p.m.), Sunday (1-4:30 p.m.) and Friday (by reservation only).