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Last Modified: August 22, 2022
Eight Ways to Bring the Library Along on Your Summer Vacation. Beyond the Stacks with Jessie Bach
Eight Ways to Bring the Library Along on Your Summer Vacation

by Jessie Bach

Summer is finally in full swing and that means that many of us will be taking off for a much-needed vacation. Whether you are planning on spending your summer vacation close to home or taking off to explore an exciting new destination, spending time with family, or heading out on a solo adventure, Alberta’s public libraries have got your reading, watching, playing, and learning needs covered.

Below are eight ways you can bring the library with you on vacation this summer! (Please note that while most Alberta libraries have similar online offerings, available eResources do vary by location. If you’d like to try out one of the resources mentioned below, visit your library’s website and navigate to their “eResources” or “eLibrary” webpage for a listing of what’s available):

1. Check out some books – and return them anywhere in Alberta.

Alberta’s libraries, despite belonging to different regional systems, are all part of one provincial resource sharing network. This means that if you have a library card, you can borrow and return books at any library in the province. So go ahead, check out a stack of beach reads at your local library, and return them in Seba Beach, Sylvan Lake, Banff, or wherever your Alberta road trip has taken you.

2. Use ME Libraries to borrow books from any library in Alberta.

Lazy days by the lake provide ample time for reading, and you may quickly find yourself in need of new reads while you’re far away from your local library. Luckily, Alberta’s provincial resource sharing network also allows you to borrow books from any public library in the province with a ME Card. To sign up for a ME Card, all you need to do is visit the ME Libraries website, confirm your library card number, PIN, and personal information, then pick which library system you will be visiting. Your library card information will then be copied over to the new library, and you’re ready to borrow books from any location!

Screenshot of ME Libraries homepage

3. Download a movie from Hoopla or Kanopy.

Depending on which Alberta library you belong to, you likely have access to one of these fabulous streaming services. Download your kids’ favourite movies to your phone, tablet or laptop to keep them entertained during a long drive or flight.

Screenshot of Kanopy Kids homescreen

4. Join a virtual summer reading challenge.

Traditionally, summer reading programs have been in-person events aimed at kids. In the past few years however, more and more libraries have been offering online summer reading programs for a range of different age groups. This means that the whole family can take part, no matter where you’re spending the summer! Check in with your local library or visit their website to see what summer programs are available.

Here’s some examples of fun, virtual, library programs running this summer:

  • Teens belonging to a Marigold member library can take part in the virtual Teen Summer Reading Challenge! By logging completed reading and activity challenges, teens earn entries into a grand prize draw for a Nintendo Switch.
  • Calgary Public Library’s 2022 Ultimate Summer Challenge is open to families or individuals of any age. Participants track their reading and complete challenges to be entered to win some awesome prizes.
  • Members of Red Deer Public Library can sign up for the Summer Reading Club to download fun bingo sheets, reading trackers, and activity trackers. Once complete, the forms can be submitted online, and participants are entered into a prize draw!

5. Use Flipster or OverDrive to download the latest magazines to read on your flight.

If you’re anything like me, a long flight calls for a stack of juicy gossip magazines. Instead of spending a bunch of money at the airport convenience store, you can download digital editions of your favourite magazines to your tablet or smartphone – for free! These resources generally offer magazines for simultaneous use (which is library-speak for “no holds lists!”) and have the latest issues available the same day they hit newsstands.

Screenshot of Flipster homescreen

6. Hit the trails with a guidebook from Read Alberta eBooks.

Whether you are heading out for a hike in Kananaskis Country, Waterton, or the David Thompson Highway, the Read Alberta eBooks site has you covered with handy trail guides that can be downloaded right to your phone – because we all know the cell service sucks in the mountains (and that’s just how we like it). Check out this post for instructions and links for accessing Read Alberta eBooks.

Book cover of Gillian Daffern's Kananaskis Book cover for Popular Day Hikes Waterton by Andrew NugaraBook cover for The David Thompson Highway Hiking Guide by Jane Ross and Daniel Kyba

7. Borrow some “stuff” from the Library of Things.

By now you’ve probably heard about the “Library of Things” trend sweeping Alberta libraries – traditional collections are expanding to include all manner of stuff! Here’s some options to help you get geared up for summer:

*Please note that Library of Things items are not available in all library locations, and depending on local library policy, loans may be restricted to local patron use.

8. Practice a new language with Pronunciator.

If your summer travels are taking you abroad, the online language learning resource, Pronunciator, has got you covered with courses in over one hundred and sixty languages! Get ready for your trip with one of the eight-week travel prep courses designed to teach you the basics and download a handy PDF phrasebook for quick reference.

Pronunciator logo

Have a great summer!

*To discover the eResources available at your library, click on your local library system below*

Calgary Public Library

Chinook Arch Regional Library System 

Edmonton Public Library

Fort Saskatchewan Public Library

Marigold Library System

Northern Lights Library System

Parkland Regional Library

Peace Library System

Red Deer Public Library

Shortgrass Library System (Visit your home library’s website for full listing)

St. Albert Public Library 

Strathcona County Libraries 

Yellowhead Regional Library System

Wood Buffalo Regional Library

Beyond the Stacks is a column about libraries in Alberta and the useful and necessary services they provide.

Photo of Jessie Bach, author of this articleJessie Bach grew up on a family farm in Southern Alberta, and is a life-long library user and book lover. She has a degree in history from the University of Saskatchewan, and a Master of Library and Information Studies from Dalhousie University. Jessie has worked in archives, academic libraries, corporate records management, and now public libraries. Her current role is Bibliographic Services Manager at Marigold Library System where she manages the team that does acquisitions, cataloguing and processing of library material for Marigold’s thirty-six member libraries. She currently lives in Calgary with her partner and, in true librarian fashion, four cats. Jessie likes to read (of course), knit, consume way too many true crime podcasts, and lift weights in the gym. 

Feature image credit: Kampus Production on Pexels