Why Public Libraries are an RVers Best Friend
Libraries Serve As a Hub for History, Entertainment, and Community
Public libraries are throughout the country. Even the smallest of small towns may have a public library. These often-unassuming buildings don’t just house dusty books. For an RV-er, they can be a central hub for information, entertainment, and community. Celebrate and honor National Library Week this year, April 3-9, 2022, and visit a local library on your next RV adventure.
Here are eight reasons you should visit and use libraries during your RV travels.
1. Rent Digital Audiobooks
Podcasts are great for long drives, but have you tried audiobooks? You don’t have to hit “next” to get to the next chapter, and you can even find some read by the authors themselves! Many public libraries use free apps like Overdrive and Libby to loan audiobooks. You don’t have to set foot in your library to gain access, as long as you have a card and internet service! Some audiobook apps even allow for offline use, so you can download a book ahead of time and have a great story to listen to if you lose cell service range.
Many parents borrow audiobooks for children and bring hard copies of the books on the trip too. Kids can read along as they listen, learning new words and sounds in transit. Storytelling is a huge part of road trips for many, so why not get a jump on your listening journey by starting in the car when you pull out of your driveway? Consider checking out books about locales you’re driving through or people who lived there to immerse yourself in your travels.
2. Use the free internet
Need to check on your camping reservation or download directions to use offline? Head to the library, where you can use free wireless internet! A strong wireless internet connection can sometimes be hard to come by when traveling in an RV. Libraries are typically outfitted with a strong wireless service that can handle large amounts of data at fast upload and download speed. You can sign in to your preferred streaming service and download movies and shows to watch later at the campground.
Many libraries offer free wifi to anyone who has proof of ID. Some prefer internet users to be registered library cardholders, so ask whether you can use this resource at the front desk. Some libraries have desktop computers, which is handy if you’re tired of staring at things on your phone screen and don’t want to bring a laptop along on trips!
3. Learn local history
Are you interested in local history? Libraries have tons of resources about the area, from microfiche of old newspapers to maps of interesting historical spots. Query a librarian about their favorite way to learn local history. You might even find they have a historian on staff or someone who has lived in the region for a long time. These experts can offer insight into local industry, famous people who have lived there, and even ghost stories and urban legends.
Homeschooling your kiddos? The library is a great place to get them excited about writing a report on the area during your travels! Hearing first-hand stories can kickstart a love of history or at least get them more excited than reading textbooks.
4. Virtual and in-person library programming
Libraries are community hubs for fun activities. Join in on a virtual adult book club hosted at your home library from the comfort of your RV while you’re on the road! Attend an author talk from a visiting writer passing through when you are in town. Road tripping with kids? See if a library in an area you pass by offers children’s programming. From summer camps to daytime programs, there’s often something fun to do!
5. Borrow media and other (sometimes surprising!) items
Most people think of borrowing books from the library, but that’s not all they offer. Many have paperback, hardcover, and large print varieties, as well as children’s board games and even graphic novels. You may be able to borrow DVDs to take on your trek or audio CDs for pitstop dance parties. If you’re camping close to home for a weekend trip, stock up on entertainment at your local library before hitting the road.
Some libraries also loan unique items like activity kits for kids! They range from the parts to build a lego structure to a set of nerf guns that encourage physical activity. Libraries may also have interesting loanable items for adults like cake pans in fun shapes. Ask the librarians at your home library and those you travel through about what they loan out. You may be surprised what you can borrow!
6. Learn about nearby events
Libraries often have centrally located bulletin boards full of community-posted gatherings and information. Check for posters on 5K runs and group hikes your family can join! The local kayak club may be hosting a paddle the weekend you happen to be traveling through town. There may even be an ad for an awesome campsite or campground that you’ve never heard of.
7. Check out the displays
Library buildings in many communities host art made by local creators. The walls become galleries for drawings, nature photography, and framed poetry. A local quilting club that meets at the library may showcase their fiber arts.
The librarians might contribute to the art by decking out the building in seasonal holiday displays. They often celebrate the changing seasons by showcasing relevant books–like seed starting advice in springtime and soup recipe books for the winter.
Stop in to bask in the crafty holiday spirit by enjoying the milk jug igloo in the children’s area, or the clothing hanger snowflakes on the windows. You might even be able to join in on the crafts and add your touch to the holiday decor if the library provides DIY crafts on-site!
8. Chat with the librarians
Librarians live in the areas where they work. They can be excellent resources for which local eateries have the best pizza and family-friendly atmosphere and which grocery stores have the best produce. Some may be into outdoor recreation and have tips for quiet campsites, sandy beaches, and hikes with beautiful views. If the librarians can’t answer your questions, they’ll know who to call or what other resources to turn to! Just saying that you’re on a road trip and passing through may kick off an awesome conversation full of tips and insight you wouldn’t have thought to ask.