50+ Free Things You Can Do Through The Seattle Public Library

The interior of the Central LibraryWant to learn a language, improve your job skills, find free one-on-one tutoring, download new songs, learn web design, or find a read-aloud for your child?

You can do all of these things and much more through The Seattle Public Library. A dozen or so of the activities in this list do not even require a Library card.

Happy exploring, escaping and learning! And yes, this is just a sampling. Find many more programs, services, and, of course, our collections, at spl.org and at our 27 locations. (Note: We will regularly update this list, so check back. Add your favorite thing that we missed in the comments!)

Free things to do through the Library without a card

The Douglass-Truth Library
The Library’s historic Douglass-Truth Branch in the Central District is one of 27 locations to visit
  1. Visit a new Library location: Explore the collections, unique art and attributes of our 27 distinctive locations around the city. Each offers free Wi-Fi, a unique collection, services such as printing and copying, areas to sit and work, children’s areas and more.
  2. Borrow an “uncatalogued” book: Every Library location, including the children’s section, has a selection of what we call “uncatalogued” books – books that you don’t have to check out. Take it home, bring it back when you’re done.
  3. Your Next JobParticipate in Seattle Reads, the Library’s citywide reading program.
  4. Get personalized book recommendations with Your Next 5 Books.
  5. Learn a new language, hobby or skill with a lesson plan from Your Next Skill.
  6. Find Your Next Job with one-on-one help in resume building, job skills and more, from a librarian, in nine languages.
  7. Attend a virtual story time with your child or a virtual event that’s just for you. Story time image
  8. Listen to an author reading, thrilling tale or presentation with Library podcasts. The Library is also starting to have in-person author events once again; check for upcoming events at www.spl.org/calendar.
  9. Contribute your pandemic stories to the COVID-19 Community Collection.
  10. Request a one-on-one virtual appointment to get free help with your small business.
  11. Fantastical art by Jorge Villavicencio'
    Year of Wonder art by Jorge Villavicencio

    Become an Excel spreadsheet guru with Microsoft Imagine Academy.

  12. Learn about Seattle’s culture through the Library’s Seattle Culture & Local History online collections, including photography, art and more.
  13. Discover local artists: The Library regularly partners with local artists on programs like Summer of Learning. Our Year of Wonder campaign currently features Jorge Villavicencio’s piece celebrating the fantastical discoveries that await you at the Library. Download a postcard to print and color yourself.
  14. Ask us anything: If you need help with any of these resources or services, or have other questions, our staff can help you in multiple languages. Just call 206-386-4636 or contact Ask Us, the Library’s email and chat service. You can also ask for help at your local Seattle Public Library branch.

Free things to do with your Seattle Public Library card

Note: For the best results in clicking through, log in at spl.org first.Library card images

  1. Get free, personalized one-on-one virtual tutoring through Tutor.com in English, Vietnamese and Spanish.
  2. Read The New York Times online, for free and access their full historical archives.
  3. Get book suggestions with NovelList.
  4. Explore the Library catalog through the Lists feature: Find Staff Picks, Bestsellers and more.
  5. Learn tech skills – from Word to Excel to PowerPoint with Northstar’s Digital Literacy lessons.
  6. Borrow a Kill-A-Watt device, which will tell you what’s eating up all the power in your home.
  7. Let your kids read along to virtual books through TumbleBooks.
  8. BookflixAccess animated stories and interactive games through BookFlix, in both Spanish and English.
  9. Ditch Netflix and Disney Plus and stream movies and shows through Kanopy, Hoopla and Access Video.
  10. Reserve a free museum pass to participating institutions with the Library’s reactivated Museum Pass program from the Museum of Flight and the Seattle Aquarium to the Museum of History and Industry and the Seattle Art Museum.
  11. Visit a Washington State Park for free by borrowing a Discover Pass, through our Outdoor Recreation resources.
  12. Learn how to publish your e-book.
  13. Get help with classes as a K-12 student or an adult.
  14. Stream digital comic books and graphic novels through Hoopla.
  15. Get cover letter and resume help on Tutor.com. It’s not just for students, it’s for job seekers too!
  16. Borrow, download or stream movies and TV shows.
  17. Download and stream music for free through services like PlayBack and Freegal.
  18. Learn a new language through Mango. We’ve got over 70 to choose from!
  19. Take citizenship classes, ESOL classes or become part of an English Circle.
  20. Learn programming, business skills or web design with over 5,000 books from O’Reilly Complete Public Library.
  21. Peak PicksCheck out a Peak Picks book on your next visit to a branch — bestselling titles with no holds and no wait.
  22. Get healthy with easy-to-browse health and medical journals.
  23. Save money with Consumers’ Checkbook, a guide to Puget Sound services and stores.
  24. Research your purchases with Consumer Reports.
  25. Research your family history through our genealogy resources or a virtual appointment with a genealogy librarian.
  26. Check out a Wi-Fi hot spot for when you’re at home or on the go.
  27. Get inspired with digital creativity classes. Learn how to use a camera or sell your work on Etsy!
  28. Dive into online research that’s only available to Library cardholders.
  29. Browse our Exploration Guides on subjects of high interest to learners in grades 3-12.
  30. Host book discussion groups using “Always Available” e-books and e-audiobooks in OverDrive.
  31. Read local, national and international magazines and newspapers.
  32. Access more than 7,000 international publications through PressReader.
  33. Keep up on local news (and history) through access to the complete archives of the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
  34. Oxford English DictionaryGet another Library card! Through reciprocal use agreements, SPL cardholders can get a card neighboring library systems, which allows you to check out books from their catalog as well as use their online services.
  35. Look up the roots of words with the Oxford English Dictionary.
  36. Research stocks and funds with Morningstar and Value Line before investing!
  37. Learn new business, creative and career skills with online courses at LinkedIn Learning.
  38. Check out books, e-books, audiobooks, e-audiobooks and DVDs from our vast collections.

How to get a card with The Seattle Public Library

If you don’t have a Library card, it’s easy to get one online or in person. Apply for a card in minutes through an application at spl.org/Card. We offer applications in Spanish, Vietnamese, Amharic, Somali and Chinese, as well as in English; and there is a children’s application as well.

A Library card from The Seattle Public Library is free for anyone who lives, works, owns property or goes to school in the Library’s service area, which includes Seattle, Bothell and most parts of King County, through our reciprocal use agreement with the King County Library System. Cardholders from several library systems in Washington may also qualify.

Call 206-386-4636 or contact Ask Us, the Library’s email and chat service, for help with getting a Library card or anything else.

Elisa M., Communications

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