Op-Ed

Library’s digital services can save you money

Sandra Gillette uses an e-reader at the Everson Library.
Sandra Gillette uses an e-reader at the Everson Library. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Most of us know that buying every print book we’re interested in gets expensive. That’s one of the reasons we use the library.

But all of the eBooks, music streaming, music downloads and magazines that we enjoy add up, too. We just don’t have a habit of using the library for these. Yet, that is.

While libraries have long been associated with print materials, as the world has become more digital, so have libraries. We adapt with the times to ensure we serve our community the best way possible.

The Whatcom County Library System now offers more than 40,000 downloadable eBooks and audiobooks, more than 9 million streaming songs, five free music downloads a week, 150 top digital magazines, online language tutorials for more than 70 languages, and more. We’ve even kicked-off online library card sign-ups, which allow people to sign-up for cards in about two minutes (yes, we timed it).

Access anytime

Since these library services are online, people can access them from anywhere. Patrons can now download eBooks from home, stream songs at the gym, download audiobooks on a road trip and more. Today’s library is no longer confined to physical buildings — it stretches beyond its borders to meet people where they are.

Beyond the convenience of the library’s digital services is the savings: when you add up the eBooks, audiobooks, music streaming, magazines, music downloads and language tutorials, using the Whatcom County Library System’s digital services can save patrons nearly $1,700 a year.

This allows people from all walks of life to have equal access to the reference materials and digital media they need and enjoy.

Here are some of the digital services we offer, along with how much money they can save cardholders every year:

Access 40,000+ eBooks and audiobooks from Overdrive

Whatcom County Library System cardholders have access to the Washington Anytime Library, powered by Overdrive. This service allows cardholders to search, reserve and download more than 40,000 eBooks and audiobooks from anywhere with an Internet connection. Enjoy John Grisham’s latest thriller, Mindy Kaling’s hilarious memoir, Jojo Moyes’ new tearjerker and more.

Added bonus: these titles automatically disappear when they’re due, so you never have to worry about returning a book late.

Savings: $662.21 (1 eBook a week, plus an annual audiobook subscription)

Download five free songs a week and stream 9 million+ songs from Freegal

Services like iTunes, Spotify and Pandora have trained us to pay for music or suffer through commercial-laden streaming. No more! Freegal, a free service through Whatcom County Library System, allows patrons to download and keep five free songs a week. Cardholders can also stream up to three hours of commercial-free music a day. Freegal offers more than 9 million songs from top artists like Meghan Trainor, Justin Timberlake, Carrie Underwood and others. Freegal even offered Adele’s new album before Spotify!

Savings: $445 (5 song downloads a week, plus premium music streaming)

Learn 70+ new languages from Mango Languages

Mango Languages is one of the most user-friendly and engaging language tutorials available. The online program walks users through real-world conversations and allows them to learn everything from Mandarin to French to Finnish, and beyond. Prep for an upcoming trip, encourage your child to learn a new language or start a new personal challenge — no matter your skill level, Mango Languages is an excellent resource.

Savings: $175 (annual cost of Mango Languages; Rosetta Stone also costs about $179 per language)

Access 150 digital magazines from Zinio

Zinio offers some of the top magazines available: choose from The Economist, GQ, The Atlantic, National Geographic, Brides, Glamour, Family Circle, Forbes and more. Access all of these anytime you want from your desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile device.

Savings: $400 (20 annual subscriptions at about $20 a year)

More than anything, we want people using Whatcom County Library System in the way that best fits their needs. So, even if you prefer print over digital, vinyl over streaming, or Amazon over free, we want you to know these services are here whenever you need them.

Access Whatcom County Library System’s digital services at wcls.org/digital-services. Sign up for a library card in just two minutes at wcls.org/get-a-card. Bellingham Public Library patrons can find these services at bellinghampubliclibrary.org, and can access Freegal from the Whatcom County Library System’s website.

Lizz Roberts is community relations coordinator for Whatcom County Library System.

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