I am a library geek. I know my nine-digit New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) card number by heart, and I treat the NOPL website (www.nutrias.org) like a free version of Amazon.com (the library's new online card catalogue is great). Books and DVDs get delivered to the branch within walking distance of my house. I've used the many useful databases linked on the NOPL website for historical research, as well as the library's "Freegal" music download program, which allows cardholders five free MP3s per week from the Sony music catalogue.
But there are a lot of less-well-publicized freebies for NOPL members. John Marc Sharpe, NOPL's director of marketing and communications, broke down some of them for us.
Mango is free interactive online language software (think Rosetta Stone) with more than 40 languages from which to choose. The software even analyzes your spoken phrases and compares them to those of native speakers, and offers both basic and more advanced courses. It offers languages from the expected (Spanish, French, Mandarin) to the extraterrestrial (Klingon).
TumbleBooks is a collection of read-along e-books for young children.
NoveList is a "matchmaking" service that aims to pair readers with books they might like based on their favorite genres, authors and titles. Sharpe says the service is particularly useful for young readers who discover they enjoy The Hunger Games, the Harry Potter series and other popular titles.
Zinio is a free service that downloads current magazines to your computer or tablet. Available titles include Consumer Reports, ESPN The Magazine, Esquire, O, The Oprah Magazine, Out and dozens of others. Bonus for trash-tabloid fans: "If you want to read OK! Magazine, you don't have to get busted looking at it in the checkout at Rouses," Sharpe says.
Ancestry.com, the popular genealogy website, can be accessed for free by library card holders at any NOPL branch (no home access is available).
In addition, Sharpe says, the NOPL continues to add new community programs at its branches, including author nights, homework clubs, summer reading programs and a "book and bike club" at the library's Norman Mayer branch. For National Library Week, NOPL held a food truck roundup in the parking lot at the library's main branch. "We got 500 people — in the rain," Sharpe says, adding that NOPL plans more food truck rallies at various branches once the weather cools down.
To get all this, you need your own library card, which can be obtained at any NOPL branch (bring proof of residence). For online access to most of these freebies, go to the library's website (www.nutrias.org), type in your library card number and access the menus at the top of the screen.