Public libraries have closed their doors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but patrons can still access more than 30,000 books, flip through magazines and newspapers from across the country, watch TV shows from the United Kingdom, and learn languages from around the world — all free.
“I’m not sure people realize all the things that they can use through our online and eServices,” said Marble Falls Public Library Assistant Director Iona Minshew. “For somebody new to it, you know, it can be a bit overwhelming with everything on it.”
To access the service, patrons use their library card number, an email address, and an electronic device — preferably a smartphone or tablet, though a computer will work.
The Burnet County Library System, which includes the Marble Falls library, the Herman Brown Free Library in Burnet, and the Joann Cole Mitte Memorial Library in Bertram, offers ebooks, audiobooks, language lessons, and entertainment options through RB Digital.
“The first step is to get the (RB Digital) app and download it,” Minshew said. “I think this is the most confusing thing for a lot of people. Though you can use the services through a computer, the best way, I think, is through the app.”
RB Digital is available through the Apple Store, Google Play, and Kindle Fire.
Those new to the app must create an RB Digital account. Again, it’s free. Minshew said they’ll need their library card number and an email address.
E-services may vary depending on the library, but here’s a handful of things to check out:
- RB Digital audiobooks and eBooks — Listen to or read thousands of books from all genres.
- RB Digital magazines — Flip through magazines on home and garden, news, music, food, and more.
- AcornTV — Watch British TV shows and specials through this video streaming service.
- Quello — Watch HD concerts on demand from a variety of musical artists.
- The Great Courses — Educational lectures on a multitude of topics.
- Transparent Language — Lessons on over 100 languages.
The services don’t end there.
“I know it’s overwhelming at first because there’s so much you can access,” Minshew said. “With this one app, it allows you to get access to everything. The flip side is: It’s everything.”
The Marble Falls library also subscribes to the RB Digital help services, so if a patron has problems, they can contact the company’s digital helpline for assistance. If you have trouble registering with RB Digital or can’t find your library card, you can contact your library.
While it might seem strange for a library to offer so many services and products that don’t require patrons to even step inside the building, Minshew said it allows them to reach more people.
“As an institution, we’re much more than our building. We’re more than just the hours we’re open,” she said. “As our world goes more digital, we have to adjust and keep up. It’s about best serving the public.”
And while the physical library is closed to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic, the digital library is always open.
The libraries in Burnet County are still offering curbside service. Click here to learn how you can reserve materials and pick them up.