A branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library hosted a fashion show with designs created by student patrons from start to finish.
Photo: From Gwinnett County Public Library/For the AJC
Photo: From Gwinnett County Public Library/For the AJC

Today's metro Atlanta libraries are community hubs

If it's been awhile since you've visited your local public library, you'll probably be surprised at all you can do there. Sure, you can still check out books — although now you can also download e-books — but metro Atlanta libraries offer so much more.

"We're more than books — we're a community hub," Dee Driver, marketing and communications manager for Gwinnett County Public Library, said.

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Some branches offer such varied services as 3D printing and a spot where patrons can record podcasts and video, complete with editing capabilities and a green screen background.

"We have one woman who does YouTube tutorials on makeup who comes in every week," Driver said. The high school student has been recording her videos at the library for about eight months.

Another library patron has utilized its services to start a business. Driver said he took library-offered courses, including ones about starting a company and using Microsoft in a business. He used the 3D printer to construct a prototype for his product — plastic parts for a prosthetic knee replacement instead of screws, which can break down over time. He sent the prototype to a manufacturer to start his business.

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Patrons also can earn their high school diploma online for free. The Gwinnett library offers laptops that can be checked out for the entire duration of the program, and a certificate is presented at a ceremony after the requirements are completed.

Other activities have included a teen film challenge that was a partnership between the Gwinnett County Library and Gwinnett County Public Schools. Students made films, which were evaluated by local celebrities and people in the film industry and then screened at a theater.

Students were also able to design their own clothes from scratch and host a runway show.

The following are some additional services offered by metro Atlanta libraries:

  • Free passes to certain metro Atlanta and Georgia attractions, including Zoo Atlanta, the Chattahoochee Nature Center, Center for Puppetry Arts and state parks
  • Publication of a "Teen Zine"
  • Skillshare: allows people to share their knowledge related to hobbies or crafts through library workshops
  • Book Group Take-Out: lets patrons check out 10-12 copies of a book plus a discussion guide for their book club
  • eRead kids collection: gives kids from pre-K through the fourth grade access to almost 15,000 digital books
  • Job fairs
  • Freegal: allows you to stream or download music
  • Hoopla: allows you to borrow digital movies, e-books and music
  • AARP Defensive Smart Driver Course
  • Driver's license practice tests
  • Veterans Monthly Roundtable
  • GALE courses: six-week online courses covering a wide variety of topics, including buying and selling on eBay, SAT prep and sign language
  • Adulting 101 classes
  • Sewing classes
  • Anime club
  • Knitting and crochet group
  • Debt clinics
  • Resume classes
  • Technology coaching
  • Introduction to mobile phones

To learn about the specific services and opportunities your local library offers, click on one of the following links according to where you live:

Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System

Cobb County Public Library System

DeKalb County Public Library

Gwinnett County Public Library

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