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Laura Fentress: Books and beyond: What your library has to offer

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Do you consider yourself “not much of a reader?” If answer is “yes,” that OK. Not all of us are ravenous bookworms. And even for folks who love to read books, the distractions of modern life and technology make it difficult to make time and focus on one. The library still has something for you … even if you don’t have a library card.

Do you consider yourself “not much of a reader?”

I’ve heard that from several people over the years when I say I’m a librarian. They’re usually a bit sheepish about it.

But you know what? That’s OK. Not all of us are ravenous bookworms. And even for folks who love to read books, the distractions of modern life and technology make it difficult to make time and focus on one.

Laura Fentress

Laura Fentress

The library still has something for you, I promise. Even if you don’t have a library card.

Let’s say you need to scan a document and don’t have a scanner at home. Instead of taking a shaky photo with your phone, come to the library and use our free document scanning station. No library card required! Just insert your documents and press the big button that says SCAN. You can save them to a USB flash drive, upload them to your own cloud storage, or securely send them via email right from the library.

Are you interested in local history? Check out our Heritage Room and vertical files. We also regularly partner with organizations like the Hall County Historical Society, Prairie Pioneer Genealogical Society, and Humanities Nebraska to bring you free programs of historical interest.

Through the month of November we’re teaming up with the Hall County Historical Society to bring you programs celebrating 150 years of Grand Island. Coming up is “A Grand Community: A Grand City” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct 16. Society members Sue Clement and Michelle Setlik will share some of the most memorable stories of Grand Island’s people, places and events over the past century and a half.

Even if you don’t think you’ll check out any books, stop by the library next time you’re downtown and sign up for a library card. All you need is a photo ID and proof of current address. Cards are totally free for all Hall County residents and anyone who owns property in Hall County.

A library card not only lets you check out books and DVDs, but also gets you free access to our Makerspace and all of our ebook, audiobook, and streaming databases.

The use of Makerspace equipment is 100% free. We only charge for the cost of materials, if you purchase any from us. Give us a call and make an appointment to take a tour and see what you could make. From custom etched tumblers to vinyl window decals to t-shirts, buttons, and tote bags, the possibilities are endless. (Ask us about our new mug press!)

Want to save money on streaming services? Take a look at our huge DVD collection. It includes not just movies but also TV shows. It’s how I’m finally catching up on “The Office” (U.S.), more than 15 years after it debuted.

Or maybe you want to stay home. That’s OK, too. Once you get set up with a library card in person, you can log in to apps like Libby and Hoopla to access thousands of ebooks, audiobooks, TV episodes, movies and more from anywhere with an Internet connection. And check out our newest database, Comics Plus, which hosts popular graphic novel, comic, and manga titles.

I like to cite my mother as an example of library success story. She enjoys books, but has trouble focusing for long periods of time on printed text.

But then I told her about the Libby app, which features free audiobooks. She went down to her local library and renewed her card. Now she regularly texts me about audiobooks she’s enjoyed and asks me for recommendations, which I’m more than happy to give.

So even if you’re not much of a reader, give the library a shot. We’re more than just books.

Laura Fentress serves as the youth and family services librarian for the Grand Island Public Library. Email her at

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