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Library Services

  • resolution


    It’s a new year, and that seems like as good a time as any to suggest the following resolution to you; it’s totally achievable, and has nothing to do with weight loss or home organization (though if those are some of your resolutions, we certainly have some books and programs to help). Here's your perfect New Year's resolution: 

    Get your money’s worth out of the library!

    To help you achieve this most enjoyable of resolutions, here’s a spotlight on some of our services that you may not have discovered yet:

    Discovery Kits

    Caroline recently wrote a blog post about Discovery Kits from the children’s department, and I actually feel like I can’t pitch it better than she did, so I’m going to quote her here: 

    “Many of our patrons have already discovered Discovery Kits (one of the best kept secrets of the Children’s Department) and know just how fun they can be. For our patrons who don’t know what a Discovery Kit is, now is a great time to get acquainted. Discovery Kits are a selection of themed books, toys, and activity ideas appropriate for kids ages 3-5, and each one is filled with enough fun to fill days and days. The Discovery Kits check out as a set and you can keep them for three weeks. That means you have three weeks to play with all the toys, read all the books, and do all the things suggested in the included activity binder. When your three weeks are up, just bring the kit back to the Children’s Reference Desk and you can make a reservation for another one. The best part is that you can now make a reservation for a Discovery Kit online on the library website. “ 

    As a parent, I can just attest that these are awesome (as long as you don’t have a toddler that does things like shove small toys down a slightly broken heater vent; if that’s the case in your house, you may not want to check out a kit with a lot of small pieces). It’s a great way to have some fun, themed play without having to invest in new toys or books myself. 

    Boxes & Games

    Want your kids to be able to play with awesome building toys but not sure you want the potential entropy that might introduce in your home? I talked about our new in-library boxes as an idea for a great library date, but they’re good for more than that. We have several STEM exploration-themed boxes available for you to check out in the library. All the building fun, none of the mess in your own home! 

    We also have several board games available to check out for those times you find yourself with friends in the library with a few hours to kill. If you’re a gamer, it’s a great way to try before you buy. 

    All-ages programs

    If you’ve glanced at our calendar recently, you know that we host dozens of programs every week, most of them for the under 12 crowd. However, we’ve recently added a new tag to the calendar to help you find things that anyone can enjoy. These all-ages programs include musical performances, family tech nights, Attic exhibits, and other activities that can be enjoyable whether you’re a single college student, a family with children of diverse ages, or an empty nester. 

    Book Club Sets

    If you have a regular book club, our book club sets can be a fantastic resource for you. We update our offerings regularly, and we have a variety of genres to appeal to every kind of book club. We have plenty of titles for adults, but we also have a wide variety of middle-grade and young adult book club sets! 

    Sets check out for 6 weeks, which gives a monthly book club a good healthy chance to read the book and set up a meeting to talk about it. Plus, every book club set comes with a handy binder full of discussion topics. 

    Computer Help Lab

    Thanks to a partnership with United Way, we are happy to be able to offer one-on-one computer help for those times when your computer needs are more in-depth than our desk staff can help with.

    Every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:00-5:00 pm, a staff member from United Way is available to answer your questions. They can help you learn computer basics, set up an email address, learn to navigate social media, or even find online software or job training. If you or someone you know could benefit from this kind of personalized help, visit them in the Special Collections room on Tuesday or Thursday.

  • book club 2

    I recently shared my top five reasons for starting or joining a book club in 2018, and, as promised, I’m here today to share how to keep that club going strong. 

    As I thought about things that help a book club succeed, I realized I had tips both for getting started and for keeping things going, so today we’ll focus on the former. It’s all too easy for a book club to drift out of existence when schedules, reading preferences, and inconsistency get in the way. Making these few key decisions ahead of time can make all the difference.

    Decide ahead of time:

    1. Who to include in your book club
      This is probably the most important component of a successful book group. In my opinion, it’s best to keep things small if you want a lasting club, as larger groups tend to fall apart more easily because people don’t feel responsible to participate. My club, Team Don't Read Crappy Books, has ended up with nine members, which works well for us. As harsh as it sounds, it’s okay to bump people from the group if by the third meeting they haven’t read any books or participated in any meetings. You can always let them back in at a later time if they want to recommit (do I sound like a book club snob yet?).

      If your group is tight-knit, be sure everyone in the group is on board if you want to invite someone new to join later on. Longterm friends are your best bet, especially if they know multiple people in the club. Our group member who joined later is a cousin and roommate of one group member, an old friend of another, and had already met several of us. She's been a great addition who we were all comfortable with adding.

      More than anything, I encourage you to choose group members who are comfortable with similar levels of language and adult content as you are. It’s not at all necessary to have the same taste in book genres, but you’ll have a frustrating time trying to agree on books if some of your club members want only squeaky clean reads while others are comfortable with some dark or adult content. Think about what you’re comfortable reading (and what you aren’t okay with reading), and find group members who feel similarly. I promise it will make things easier. 

    2. How often you’ll meet
      My book club definitely struggles with this (balancing schedules is hard!), but we aim to meet every other month. It might help your group to have a set day of every month or every other month when you meet. If you’d like to use the Provo Library’s book club sets, you’ll want to meet every six weeks so that it’s easy to rotate sets. Whatever you choose, consistency is key. 

    3. How books will be chosen
      There are a few options for choosing what book you should read. Team Don’t Read Crappy Books rotates hosts, and the host chooses what we’ll read. This has worked well for us and has led to more variety in what we read. Another option is to choose as a group what you’ll read, which can work especially well if you’re checking out book club sets, as the more popular sets need to be reserved months in advance

      Like I mentioned above, it’s a good idea to know ahead of time what your group is comfortable reading. Lay the ground rules of what content you’re okay with in your very first meeting. It’s also a good idea to have a page number limit so that club members have enough time to finish the book before meeting. We’ve found a 500 page limit to be a good guideline, but we’re flexible about it. 

    4. How club members will get copies of the book
      Will one member of your club reserve, pick up, hand out, collect, and return a book club set from the library? Will that club member change each time or always be the same person? Will each member be responsible for buying or checking out their own book? Decide ahead of time how you want this to work. 

    5. How your club will communicate
      Team Don’t Read Crappy Books has a private Facebook group that is a perfect means of communicating for us. We use it to announce what we’ll be reading next, share pictures and happy news (book related or not), and decide when to meet. The polls feature is especially useful when we’re trying to figure out a meeting time that works for everyone. Facebook works for us, but group texts and emails are also good options.
  • IB More FB

    When I tell people that I work at a library many of them are surprised that libraries are more than just books. But they are! Yes, we have books—lots of them—for all different subjects and age ranges. But there is so much more to the library than just books. First of all, the Provo City Library has a variety of programs (like the Fairy Tea Party that I wrote about last month). Second, the library has a plethora of meeting rooms. Some are large and can be rented, like the Ballroom. Some are small and can be reserved at the First Floor Adult Reference Desk, such as our study rooms or smart room. Finally, some of my personal favorite things that aren’t books are the databases. Provo City Library has quite a few databases that can be especially helpful.

    AutoMate can help if you are fixing your car and you need diagrams or repair manual information.

    The Home Improvement Reference Center database can help those doing any sort of home improvement project.

    The Hobbies and Crafts Reference Center has loads of information on any craft or hobby you may want to learn or read about under the sun. has a plethora of movies made by professionals (not just random Youtube channel vloggers) to teach anything from how to use the Adobe Suit software to how to use a brand new camera you may have purchased. Seriously. If there is something you want to learn how to do—you should check out this database.

    The Adult Learning Center: Learning Express Library and the College Center:Learning Express Library both provide access to all sorts of practice tests. And another database lets you take practice DMV Permit tests.

    Freegal is a music database where you can download (and keep forever) three free songs and stream a few hours of music per week (and who doesn’t love free music?).

    OverDrive is amazing for ebooks and audiobooks, but it also has some movies you can stream or download for free.

    These are only a few of the databases that we have available on our library’s website! So, when you think of the Provo City Library, don’t just think of books—remember that we are so much more than books. We are entertainment, a community space, and a vast reference to community resources. Come visit to learn what else the library can be for you!

  • IB Everyone FB 1

    There is a saying that people who don’t like to read just haven’t found the right book yet. I believe this—that there is a book for everyone.

    In the course of my life, I have had many roommates that have said they don’t like to read. When one roommate in particular said she didn’t like reading, I asked why not. It turns out that she didn’t like any of the books she was forced to read in school and therefore thought that she must hate all books. I knew that chances were she just hadn’t met the right book yet. So, after learning more about her taste in hobbies, movies, and other activities, I started bringing home stacks of books from the library. After some time, she started to look at those books, read them, and ask for more.

    She discovered that with the right book she actually enjoyed reading! Now she is one of the more keen readers that I know.

    This happens quite a bit. Often, those who don’t think they like reading will discover that they just haven’t found the right type or format of book yet. Some people are avid readers when they have audio books. Some people devour comics or graphic novels. Some kiddos need books with the right combination of topic interest and reading levels.

    Luckily for all of us, those books are out there, and there are librarians who can help anyone find the right book for them to read next. At the Provo City Library we have something called Personalized Reading Recommendations. This is a free service where you can fill out an online form indicating what types of books you like (or don’t like). Then one of our librarians will make a personalized list of book recommendations for you to check out.

    Reading can be one of the most enriching hobbies that you can take with you anywhere and do at any time. (And at this time of year it’s quite a cozy hobby to enjoy even in the midst of a cold, stormy night.) If you have a hard time finding a book that you enjoy reading, come talk to a librarian or fill out a Personalized Reading Recommendation form. Because there is a book for everyone, and we would love to help you find it!


    Children need open-ended creative opportunities, so the children’s department has added a new weaving board in the back corner behind the Juvenile Fiction books. The weaving board has wooden dowels attached to a frame, and a basket of colorful fabric strips and ribbon entices children to use the board as a loom. Open-ended play materials like this make it possible for any child to be successful and have a positive experience creating.

    There is no right or wrong way to weave the materials. One child may find just attempting to weave enough of a challenge, where an older child can sort through the different colors and printed material to make a woven pattern that is very intricate. I love walking by the weaving board in the morning to see what possibilities have been imagined and carried out the previous day. No explicit instructions or patterns are included. Having materials available to children is all that is necessary. Their amazing, growing, imaginative minds do the rest. Come in and try it for yourself!

    If you are looking for ideas about how to provide similar opportunities at home, I have included a few books to get you started. 

    01.03.2018 The DotTHE DOT
    By Peter H. Reynolds

    Vashti doesn’t believe she is an artist. Her paper is still blank when her teacher walks by. “Just make a mark and see where it takes you,” the teacher says. Vashti makes one dot on the paper. Her teacher asks her to sign the page, and the story unfolds to describe Vashti’s beginning artist experiences. Too often creativity is squashed out of children as they become concerned with what others think or that their drawings aren’t “right.” Reynolds perfectly shows the potential of each person to become the artist they were meant to be. 


    By Jean Van’t Hul

    Parents who don’t know how to start introducing art to their children—pick up this book! Van’t Hul sets the stage by explaining why art is so important in the lives of our families. She continues to provide ideas in the first section “Preparing for the Art” including storage ideas and ways to include art experiences into busy day-to-day life. The second section contains 61 art projects with a detailed list of materials and instructions to carry out the projects, accompanied with vivid photographs. After reading this handbook you will be compelled to encourage creative, process-oriented art experiences with children. 


    01.03.2018 Kids WeavingKIDS WEAVING
    By Sarah Swett, Illustrations by Lena Corwin, Photographs by Chris Harlove

    This guide to weaving introduces children to endless possibilities. All of the projects in the book are done with homemade items, starting with basic crafts for beginners and progressing in complexity. First, a pencil, then a cardboard loom, and finally the instructions for building your own PVC pipe loom. 

  • tech savvy

    Sometimes I feel like I bridge some interesting gaps in my marriage. My husband, a lover of all things technological, has fully moved into the 21st century and never looked back. While I try to join him in this brave new world, occasionally I fall behind and he likes to tease me for still belonging to the age of analog. Why buy sticky notes when you can just create a task list on your phone? Why are we keeping the kids’ school papers in binders when we can just save them to the cloud? Why are we turning on the lights with switches like animals when we could just get Alexa?

    While some might think that libraries also belong in the bygone era, more and more I realize that the library is evolving right along with the rest of the world, in ways that surprise my tech-embracing spouse and others I tell. Here are a few examples of sarcastic questions my husband has posed over the years, and the surprising ways the library continues to solve our problems:

    “Why are people still making CDs? Who even uses CDs anymore?”

    Yeah, this one is irking, since I purchase all of the music CDs for the library’s collection, and I know that people are definitely still using CDs thank you very much. I may have uttered this last statement with my arms folded petulantly, to which he reluctantly agreed.

    But then of course I remembered the library has also subscribed to Freegal, an online music streaming website where you can even download a few songs every week FOR KEEPSIES. Even if you don’t want to use CDs anymore, the library still has a way to bring you music for free.

    “Why didn’t you just send me a link to the article… like a normal person?”

    This one came after I brought home a photocopied article I had thought he would find interesting. He held the papers like I had handed him a discarded banana peel and asked me this question sarcastically. My husband is still alive because I knew he was joking (although he probably suffered a smack to the arm), but then I realized: I could have done just that.

    The library subscribes to dozens of databases, including several that have newspaper articles and access to magazines. And even if I did find the article in one of our print magazines, I could have used the library’s scanner to quickly scan the article and email it to him for free. He could potentially never touch a paper again!

    I heard about this cool book that Neil deGrasse Tyson wrote, do you think we have time to stop by Barnes and Noble?

    He has only been married to a librarian for THE PAST 10 YEARS where I have access to free books on a daily basis, and I still get questions like this. But even when I have brought home books for him, too often I see them resting by the bed while he is off listening to a podcast and washing dishes (he may be snarky, but the man does dishes and laundry, I’m not complaining).

    But of course, the library has an answer for even this situation with OverDrive, our database of downloadable e-books and audiobooks. You can download books anytime, day or night, and play them right from Overdrive’s new app, Libby. Now he can keep up with the latest books right alongside his podcasts and Reddit threads.

    I hope I didn’t make him sound too snarky in this post, because he is actually delightful and these things he says are always meant in jest. But hey, if I can convince him that the library can still be a relevant part of his life in this new digital world, I can convince anyone!

  • here to help

    I recently took a phone call from a library patron who was interested in learning how to use some advanced functions in Microsoft Office software (Excel, Word, etc), but taking a formal class was cost prohibitive. This patron wanted to know if we had any resources that could help them.

    Oh do we have resources…

    Can I just tell you? Asking a librarian what resources are available for [insert task/project/assignment here] is one of the best ways to make us love you. We want to tell you all about the amazing resources that you can use for FREE!

    For this patron, I recommended four different resources:

    1. The Computer Help Lab which takes place Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00 – 5:00 PM in the Special Collections Room. This particular patron wasn’t available during those hours, so next I recommended…

    2. Book a Librarian. With this service the patron can request a time that suits them to meet with a librarian one-on-one to get individual help. The patron liked this idea, but was also interested in self-directed learning. So I also recommended…

    3. Learning Express Library, which has a lot of great resources that range far beyond just basic computer and Microsoft Office skills, including standardized test resources (ACT, ASVAB, GED, GMAT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT, Praxis, SAT, TOEFL, TOEIC, etc.), resources for becoming a U.S. citizen, basic math, reading, and writing resources, and so much more that this is just the tip of the ice berg.

    4. And finally, one of my favorites, I don’t really know where to start when trying to describe the wealth of resources available on here. In addition to Microsoft Office courses, Lynda offers fantastic and professionally produced video courses on subjects relating to and including: 3D and animation, audio and music, business, CAD, design, courses for developers, education and e-learning, IT, marketing, photography, video, and the web.

    For the Provo City Library, providing our community with access to information, instruction, and learning is central to our mission. We are here to help, and want to make sure you are aware of the amazing, FREE resources available to everyone.

    The next time you come in, ask a librarian what great resources the library can offer, and watch their face light up.Just try it.

    I dare you.

  • vhs danger 01 1

    I was shocked a few months ago to learn that my VHS tapes are in danger. While I thought that they had another few decades of life in them, it turns out that 15-20 years is about the healthy age range you can expect. The reason for this is their magnetic fields, which fade over time until the magnetism is so weak that the tapes become unplayable - and it’s not possible to get it back. Most tapes were recorded in the 1980s and 90s, which means now is the time to save them!

    If your VHS tapes aren’t stored carefully, that lifespan can be even shorter.  “VHS tapes degrade easily from exposure to heat and humidity, causing poor tracking, reduced color saturation, and static.  Many tapes stored in attics or garages break during fast-forward or rewind operations.  Unless the case unscrews, which is rare, there is no easy way to repair the tape" (Saving Stuff: Digital Preservation for Family Historians, pg. 19. Computers in Libraries, April 2017).

    Before you break out in a sweat thinking of all the childhood memories stored on tapes hiding in a closet somewhere in your house, you should know that there are plenty of services out there to digitize tapes, including a VHS converter we have right here at Provo City Library. The best part is that it’s free to use!

    I have been bringing in a few tapes at a time to convert, and the process is easy enough to do yourself, although our librarians can also walk you through it. It’s pretty magical seeing memories I haven’t thought of in 20 years come back to life before me. Even if the tapes weren’t expiring soon, the thrill of re-visiting important moments from my life and sharing them with family and friends online has been worth the time.

    You can call 801-852-7681 to make a reservation to use this equipment any time the library is open. We also offer audio transfer services if you have old LPs or cassette tapes (those cassettes were created with magnetism just like your VHS, and will be fading soon, too!). More about our digital transfer services can also be found by visiting this page.