10 Fab Things You Can Get at DPPL (That I Didn’t Know Until I Worked Here)

I like to joke that I'm not a librarian, but I play one on TV.

(But seriously, being a librarian is no joke. Librarians have master’s degrees and are some of the smartest, kindest, hardest-working professionals I know. And they are not in it for the money either, folks). 

But over my past nine years as the "non-librarian" head of marketing and communication at DPPL, I HAVE picked up all sorts of library tricks and tips I thought I’d share with you today. 

#1.   Put things on hold.

OK, for many of you this may be a “duh” tip. But before I worked at DPPL,  I had no idea the benefits of putting things on hold.

These days I simply go to on my laptop or tablet (learn about the DPPL app) virtually anywhere, anytime, look something up in the catalog and place a hold.  Things I put on hold all the time: books seen while browsing Amazon and Pinterest or listening to NPR; movies previewed while watching other DVDs I’ve checked out from the library; CD’s from new artists or new music heard on the radio.  Before you know it, you receive an email your holds have arrived and are waiting for you in the DPPL lobby. For FREE!

Just a few of the things I currently have on hold.

#2   Put things on hold before the library even has them on shelf, to be first(ish) in line when they arrive. 

This is the secret to getting the new stuff first. Be at the top of the Holds queue for the item by placing your hold early.  Libraries often place orders for hot movies while they are still in the theaters so check the catalog. The record may be tagged “Being Acquired by the Library” but we're still taking holds. I do this with brand new movies, and also new music CDs, bestselling authors and the latest editions of my favorite magazines.  View a quick tutorial about placing holds here

#3   And one more holds related tip: suspend some of your holds.

Once you get into the habit of placing holds, you may find yourself with, oh, say, 40 items on Hold at one time. You are not going to want ALL of those holds showing up at the same time. Use the suspend holds function to stagger when your holds may become available. Learn how to suspend a hold

Another option: the images the DPPL catalog are "pinnable" so that you can "Pin" and bookmark the item to a Pinterest board (like I do on  my  'Books to Do" Pinterest board), and then click through to place a hold at a later date.

#4    Five music downloads per week x 52 weeks = 260 free music downloads per year!

Definitely take advantage of Freegal’s five free weekly music downloads. At first I was like “just five”?  Meh. But done weekly, they add up! And you get to keep them. Forever.  Freegal covers the entire Sony worldwide catalog, I guaranteed you will find music there you will want.

Use the “Wish List” function to keep track of everything you want to download so that you don’t have to start searching afresh each week. And sign up for a  email reminder to use your weekly Freegal allotment before they expire. Learn how to use Freegal

#5    Free movie and music streaming/downloads = more money in your road trip pocket.

Once upon a time, before a long road trip, I allotted each of my kids $20 to “rent” and download movies from Amazon, the Apple Store or Google Play. (And of course they read too, but, you know. One word. Carsick.) Those days are OVER. Now we go to download directly to their tablets from Hoopla and Overdrive Media Mall. Learn more about Hoopla  and Overdrive My Mediamall

And while you’re at it, kid’s Nooks, VTech InnoTab and VTech InnoTab 3s, and LeapFrog LeapPad2 device can be checked out from DPPL too!

#6    Borrow fine art.

Who knew?  DPPL offers a wide selection of fine art from area artists for check out.  View it in person in the northeast corner of the 3rd floor or browse online.

#7    Check out Rokus, Apple TV, Chromecast, Go Pros, Wolverine F2D Film to Digital Slide Converters, Wireless Internet Hotspots and more.

Again. Who knew? Find them all  here.

#8    Get personalized book suggestions via DPPL’s BookVine.  

Fill out the online form with as much or as little information as you like. Just remember, the more information you give us, like your favorite authors or subjects, the better our suggestions will be. Our Readers’ Services Team will get back to you (via email) in 7-10 days, with 3 – 5 books picked out just for you.

#9    Read all the best magazines for free! 

I’m a well documented magazine junky.  And I’ve saved thousands of dollars since working at the library by NOT buying magazines. People. InStyle. Time, Chicago Magazine.  Business Week, Cooking Light, Fine Cooking, Ranger Rick, Real Simple, Science News, Sports Illustrated, Time, Vanity Fair, The Week.  And on and on.  I check them out (and put them on hold each month so that I get them right away) or read full color, full current editions of them online with DPPL’s two digital magazine services Flipster and Zinio for Libraries.  Plus, a Zinio tutorial here

#10   Never stop learning. Online. For Free.

I have always thought of the library as the original DIY, but before I worked at DPPL, I really thought of that in terms of books.  The whole concept of "virtual library" and notion that you can access the library online at 24 hours a day, 7 days a week never even occurred to me.  Silly me. 

A library card opens a door to so much more than just "book learning". 

Today, I know that I can follow thousands of classes and Learning Paths online at, learn Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, Google Docs and more online with Atomic Training, practice for my DMV driving test, learn new languages from Mango Languages and take practice tests for the ACT, SAT, AP, GED, OOEFL, ASVAB with SkillSurfer. And much, much more. All for free, online, at home, with my DPPL library card. 

A few of the new courses on Atomic Training

What cool things have you discovered YOU can do at the library? I'd love to hear. 

Email me by clicking here, and I'll include YOUR tips in an upcoming 10 MORE tips post.

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