5 Free Things You Didn’t Know Your OKC Library Offers

books and a Kindle - two ways to read at the library
Books and e-books – just the beginning of the free things available at the OKC Metropolitan Library!

We all know that we can get books at the library. But what you may not know is that the OKC Metropolitan Library offers far more – from free concerts to TV show streaming! Who doesn’t like free stuff?

1. Free Performances and Classes

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed everything from Irish music concerts to a Downton Abbey party complete with high tea, all free at my local library!

The Metropolitan Library is celebrating Black History Month (February) this year with a wide variety of events, including performances by Adam and Kizzie and Rhythmically Speaking.

Oklahoma musical duo Adam and Kizzie will be performing Roots of African American Music, “an informative musical journey through the socioeconomic, spiritual and artistic struggle and triumph of Black Americans,” according to the Metropolitan Library’s press release.

The couple’s unique experiences include being mentored by Usher after winning 3rd out of over 7,000 entries in Usher’s 2017 MEGASTAR Talent Competition, as well as appearing on TV shows such as the “Face the Music” episode on Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible.

Adam and Kizzie, who are performing at the Metropolitan Library this February, won Short Film Selection at the 2015 deadCenter Film Festival with this music video Train.

The music video for their song Train won the Short Film Selection at the 2015 deadCenter Film Festival and OKC Black History Month Festival.

Adam and Kizzie don’t fit into any one genre, though their music is influenced by hip-hop, soul, jazz, and R&B.

Adam and Kizzie’s “Roots of African American Music” Performances:

Southern Oaks Library 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2

Northwest Library 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9

Bethany Library 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23

Theatre company Rhythmically Speaking perform regularly in the community and will be sharing the story of Dorothy Ellis at the Metropolitan Library in February.

Rhythmically Speaking describe themselves as a theatre company who “combines storytelling, drama, songs, rhythms, rhymes, and plenty of audience participation.”

They will be telling the story of Dorothy Ellis, a blues singer in the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame, in their performance Miss Blues: Oklahoma’s First Lady of the Blues.

Rhythmically Speaking’s “Miss Blues: Oklahoma’s First Lady of the Blues” Show Times:

Warr Acres Library 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12

Downtown Library 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16

Ralph Ellison Library 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17

Midwest City Library 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18

Choctaw Library 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19

And there’s more – film showings, a live stage production, among other educational offerings – all free! Find the full calendar of events for Black History Month here!

Next month (March 2019) will be Teen Tech Month, with a focus on robotics, coding, circuitry and art themed learning!

toddler plays in a sensory playtime at the library
Sensory Playtime at the OKC Metropolitan Library. Photo provided by the Oklahoma Metropolitan Library System.

In addition to special events, the library offers regular classes for all ages.

It would be difficult to list every class here that is offered; there are so many! Just a sampling of this upcoming week’s classes includes sensory playtime, storytime, and preschool music for toddlers, lego club and art classes for kids, chess club and a film workshop for teens, and quilting, yoga and tai chi for adults. You can also find activities for the whole family!

Look at their calendar and filter by the age group you are interested in and your local branch.

2. Free E-books and Audio Books

a hand holding a Kindle
Download e-books from the library collection to read for free!

Don’t feel like leaving home to go to the library? I love old-fashioned paper books, but there is something wonderful about picking out any book I want to read late at night and downloading it straight to my Kindle! E-books and audio books are also fantastic for traveling.

If you own an iPad or Kindle, you can download free books from the library right to your device! They have an extensive collection, but if you don’t see what you want, you can recommend that they buy it. The library has often bought books on my behalf!

Books can be downloaded directly to your Kindle without an app. On an iPad, you’ll need a reader app. The library’s system is compatible with the Kindle or Overdrive app. They also have their own app called Libby that you can download.

E-books can be borrowed for up to 14 days. (You may need to change the setting on your device to borrow for more than 7.) The books will automatically return at that point, but if no one is waiting for your book, you can always borrow it again.

(Bonus: no late fines!)

Not sure what to read? When browsing books in the library’s digital collection, you can see recommendations, based on the books you look up or check out. But if you want a more personal touch, fill out the Tailored Titles survey online and a librarian will recommend books based on your interests. (I found this to be far more effective than the electronic recommendations!)

Side note: If you still like physical books as I do, you’ll be interested to know that the borrowing limit has been increased from 30 books to 100 recently! Also, the checkout time has been extended to 3 weeks.

3. Free Online Subscription to Sites like Ancestry.com

Whether you’re interested in subscribing to Ancestry.com or the New York Times, you actually can get free access to these sites through your library membership!

There are a large number of databases and subscription-only websites that you can access through the Metropolitan Library. Here are just a few highlights:

  • A to Z World Travel: This site might not be as well known, but looks really cool and helpful! It includes travel guides to more than 200 world cities!
  • Ancestry.com: The popular genealogy site at your fingertips!
  • Newspaper subscriptions include the Chicago Tribune, LA Times, New York Times, Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal! You can see current issues or look up back issues.
  • Consumer Reports: Check out how Consumer Reports has rated almost anything, if you’re shopping for something new.
  • EBSCOHost: Academic database with journals and more that many university libraries offer, but a great resource if you need it after graduation!
  • Home Improvement Reference Center: Find how-to videos and articles for all different kinds of home improvement projects.
  • National Geographic: Access to the popular magazine! And there are kids’ versions, too.

Check out the full list in alphabetical order on the library’s website.

4. Free Movies, TV Shows, and Music Streaming

A screenshot of Kanopy's homepage showing popular movies you can watch
Stream movies and TV shows on Kanopy, an online resource through the Metropolitan Library.

Stream movies, TV shows, music, and more through the library’s subscriptions to Kanopy and Hoopla!

  • Kanopy offers “thoughtful entertainment,” which can include anything from classic movies and international films to documentaries and educational series.  One of their categories is The Great Courses series, a video company which brings in some of the most highly rated teachers to teach different topics. Toggle the kids button on the top of the browser for a whole different selection appropriate for children. Movies and TV shows can be checked out for 72 hours and you can borrow 6 per month. It’s easy to get started – just click the “sign up” button on the homepage and follow the directions. Use the http://metrolibrary.kanopy.com link, instead of going directly to the Kanopy website.
  • On Hoopla, you can borrow movies and TV shows, in addition to comic books, ebooks, audio books, and music. Though they may not always have the latest movies, I was able to find movies I can’t find elsewhere, like one of my favorites, the Italian film Life is Beautiful. Movies and TV shows can be checked out for 72 hours, while you can get music albums for 7 days and ebooks, audio books, and comics for up to 21 days! You are limited to 6 rentals across all the media types per month, though. When you sign up, your PIN will be your last name.

You can also borrow DVDs and CDs from the library, just like the old-fashioned movie store. It depends on your location how many feature films your library offers. Some branches mostly host educational or classic movies, but others have plenty of newer releases.

5. Free Online Courses and Foreign Language Apps

two girls learn on a computer at the library
Kids (and adults!) can learn foreign languages and more through educational apps and programs at the library. Photo provided by the Oklahoma Metropolitan Library System.

Two of the library’s great educational resources include subscriptions to Lynda and Mango.

  • Lynda: Lynda offers video courses in software development, design, web development, business, and photography! You can go through the course at your own pace and choose from hundreds of options. It is designed to help with career development. For example, you can learn how to use Photoshop, work with 3D character animation, or start a small business. An incredible resource! Your PIN to log in is your last name.
  • Foreign Language apps: Library members have free access to Mango, an app from which you can learn foreign languages. 71 languages are currently available to learn! There is a kid-friendly foreign language app called Little Pim.

How to Get Your Free Stuff – Get a Library Card!

Now that you know some of the many resources available through your library, if you’re not yet a member, all you need to do is take two forms of ID (one showing proof of residence in Oklahoma County) to your local branch to get a card! You can fill out an application there or fill out this application online!

If you live in Norman, you’re part of the Pioneer System (not the Metropolitan System), but you can have special access to both!

What’s your favorite aspect of the OKC Metropolitan Library? Share in the comments!

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