In every city and every town, there is an untapped source of information about events and attractions you are probably not using: the local library. This is especially useful for visitors who are planning a longer stay.
Most libraries, whether in Madrid, New York or Hong Kong, have a bulletin board where people can post notices. This is a great place to look for anything from used bikes for sale to local meet-ups to classes. Very often, the libraries themselves organize classes, exhibitions or movie screenings. Libraries in bigger cities, and sometimes even in smaller towns, will hosts talks and conferences by famous authors, directors and other luminaries. Some have writing or photography contests. Another way to learn about what’s happening is to check the library’s website.
Besides being a great place to find something to do, buy or sell, libraries are a great place to — wait for it — learn! Learn about where you are, its history, its culture, the people. Find a book about the local architecture or art and create your own tour. Or ask a librarian. Librarians are there to help, and they often are happy to do so. And if they don’t know an answer, they will look it up for you. Besides, if you get on their good side, sometimes they know of resources that aren’t always available to the public or events that aren’t published.
You don’t need to have a card to use the library resources or talk to a librarian. But if you want to check out books or materials (and sometimes to use a computer), you will need to get one. If you want to get one (and why wouldn’t you?) you’ll need a local address and that’s about it.
So next time you’re looking for something to do, try the library.
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