COLUMN: Add a trip to the library to your list of new year’s resolutions

Frances Thomson suggests a trip to your local library to help get the new year started on the right foot.

Happy New Year! Have you made any resolutions for 2017?

A resolution is a promise to improve something about one’s self and people have been making (and breaking) New Year’s resolutions throughout history. The most common ones are to lose weight and/or to get fit.

Instead, how about resolving to use your public library more? Some people might be surprised to know what the local library has to offer. Libraries have changed over the years – they are no longer just warehouses of musty old books! Since it is supported by your property taxes, you might as well use what you are paying for.

So, you don’t read “real” books anymore because you prefer to read on a smartphone or tablet? Fraser Valley Regional Library has a large collection of eBooks available for residents of the library’s member communities. As long as you have a valid FVRL card, you may search for and borrow eBooks without coming into the library.

If paying fines for not returning books on time is one of the reasons for not borrowing from the library, eBooks do not incur any late fees. They just vanish from your device when the loan period is up.

Downloadable audio books are also available for borrowing. These are popular for people who spend a lot of time commuting in their cars or on transit. Some people like to listen to a book while walking, jogging or doing housework.

Many people tell me they are too busy to read full-length books. Did you know that FVRL subscribes to over 400 magazines in digital editions? They are available through a service called Zinio for Libraries, and unlike eBooks, they may be downloaded permanently and do not disappear from your device until you choose to delete them.

I love to read magazines, especially when I travel, but they are expensive to buy, so I load up my iPad with an assortment before I go. Zinio offers a great selection of titles to suit a variety of reading interests. The interactive edition of National Geographic is outstanding as it includes videos, animated maps and other multimedia features. Back issues of the digital magazines offered through Zinio are also available.

Research shows that learning a new language can prevent the brain from aging. That is another possible resolution for 2017 that the library can help with.

Mango Languages is a language-learning resource that is optimized for home use. It offers 72 different languages, from Spanish to Swahili, English to Icelandic, and also includes “pirate” (“arrrr, Matey!”) and Shakespearean English.

Mango allows users to learn at their own pace, whenever they want, building language proficiency and cultural understanding with practical communication skills. It can be used online from any computer, at any time, requiring no CDs, DVDs, downloads or installations. Apps for iOS and Android devices make it convenient and portable.

As you ponder your resolutions for the new year ahead, add a visit to the public library to your list so you can exercise your brain!

Frances Thomson is the community librarian at the George Mackie Library. For more information about books and events at the library, visit fvrl.bc.ca.