Part of the Gig Economy? Grab a Library Card!

If you’re like the 57.3 million Americans who work as independent contractors and freelancers, you undoubtedly have a work-life that differs greatly from a standard nine-to-fiver.  And while your workflow may be atypical, access to quality resources doesn’t have to be. Improve your gig game at the local library. Here’s how:

 

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Learn new skills 

Let’s face it: training and continuing education is expensive. And as a gig worker, professional development is entirely in your hands. Thankfully, libraries have digital and in-person classes in everything like computer programming, language learning, business strategy, and even academic and career exams. Who needs a corporate training program when you’ve got the library? 

Build your brand

Interested in creating a video series, starting a podcast, or taking professional photos? Your library may have video cameras, microphones, tripods, selfie sticks, and green screen kits available to borrow. Let your creative talents shine while saving on hundreds of dollars in equipment. 

Digital Labs and Makerspaces

Whether you’re building an Etsy business or creating a digital portfolio, many libraries have a variety of digital and maker supplies. 3D printing, laser-cutters, sewing machines, button makers, and Cricuts are just some examples that you may find. Hone your craft with your library card.

Coworking spaces

Wish there was a place you could go where you’re not obligated to buy a cup of coffee just to access to mediocre WIFI? Thankfully there is: public libraries are some of the last places in the United States where you can get quality WIFI and a space to work for free. Take advantage of the computer lab or plug your laptop into one of the many available outlets- no purchase required! 

Networking

Need a lunch break or want to join a social hour? Libraries offer free movie screenings, book clubs, cooking classes, community conversations, and more. Check out library programs as a great way to meet fellow gig workers, build your contact list, and make new friends.

Expert Reference Staff

Hands down, the most valuable resource at any library is the staff. Librarians hold a Master in Library & Information Science. That means that their specialty is research and instruction. Simply put, library staff want to see you succeed- where else can you find that? 

What resources can gig workers access with a library card? 

While every library varies on the databases and materials that they carry, most have some version of the following digital and physical resources. Not sure what your local library has? Just ask! 

Databases

With a library card, you can access databases from anywhere with Internet! Some of the best online resources for continuing education are Mango Languages, Lynda.com for tutorials on technology and business concepts, Gale Courses for instructor-led, six-week courses, and Learning Express Library for academic and career placement exams.

Music, Movies, Magazines, and More

Whistle while you work! Listen to the latest music, download audiobooks, or take a break and read an ebook or digital magazine all from your smartphone or computer. Naxos Music Library, Overdrive, Hoopla, and Flipster are just some examples for all of your multimedia needs.

Business groups

More and more libraries are partnering with local business owners and business associations to offer coworking clubs, training workshops, and networking events. Inquire with your library to see what business services or groups exist at the library or in the community. 

How do you get started?

Head to your local library’s website for information about getting a library card- many allow you to get the registration process started online! If you’re not seeing a registration link, just send an email or give them a call- library staff will be happy to get you started.

As a member of the gig economy, your work life is as unique as you are. And while you may love the freedom to create your own schedule and dabble in a variety of side hustles, you may hate the lack of continuing education opportunities or access to pricey technology and databases.

Thankfully the library fills those gig gaps. 


Part of the Gig Economy? Grab a Library Card!
by Barbara Alvarez for EveryLibrary