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Discover these lesser-known resources at a Salt Lake City or County library near you

Beyond books, libraries offer seeds, software, equipment and other items.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Naomi Popoca, 7, seated, is joined by her sister Nicole, 3, and mother Chelise as they spend time in the kids section at the Kearns Library on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. From access to a sound studio, 3D printers, bike repair tools and more, libraries are sources for a variety of life-enriching resources, not just books.

Libraries offer much, much more than books. Nowadays, they are are hubs of life-enriching resources, and the Salt Lake City Public Library and the Salt Lake County Library are no exception.

If you’re new to Salt Lake City, here is a breakdown of the two major library systems in the area.

— The Salt Lake City Public Library system (aka The City Library) is headquartered in the Main Library downtown and also has seven smaller branches throughout city neighborhoods. All residents of Salt Lake City or Salt Lake County can get a free library card to The City Library. For more information, visit SLCPL.org.

— The Salt Lake County Library system (aka The County Library) covers a much larger area than The City Library, with 18 branches spread throughout the Salt Lake Valley. All county residents can get a free library card to The County Library. For more information, visit SLCOlibrary.org.

Trish Hull, manager of The County Library’s Kearns branch, said libraries are “the heart of democracy,” because they provide everyone with equal access to information and education.

“We are an equalizer,” she said. To access anything on the following list, all you need is a free library card.

Grow your garden

Established in 2019 — in partnership with Wasatch Community Gardens — The City Library’s free seed library allows anyone to request seeds, then take them home and plant them. Initially only based in the Main Library, the seed library has been expanded to the Day-Riverside, Marmalade, Glendale and Sprague branches.

Just peruse the seed catalog — which features an ever-changing variety of veggies, herbs and flowers — then place your order online or in person.

Once your garden runneth over, save the plants’ seeds and share them, either by giving them to a friend or neighbor, or donating them back to the library.

The seed library encourages people to not waste seeds, which have the potential “to be a plant that can give nourishment to other people in the community,” Liesl Jacobson, assistant director of community engagement for The City Library, said.

Where: Browse the seed catalog at services.slcpl.org/theplot and pick up orders at the Main Library in downtown Salt Lake City. Or visit a participating branch in person.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Seed Library, at the Marmalade Branch of the SLC public library system, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021.

Grab some brain food

Both the city and county library systems have partnered with the Utah Food Bank to provide free food to children and teens under the age of 18 through the Kids’ Cafe program.

The City Library gives out snacks at its Marmalade and Glendale branches, as well as the Main Library. For hours and other info, visit services.slcpl.org/kids-cafe.

The County Library provides free sack lunches to kids at the following branches: Hunter, Kearns, Magna, Smith, Tyler and West Valley. For hours and other info, visit https://www.slcolibrary.org/information/FAQs.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Kid’s Cafe offers free meals for kids up to 18-years-old at the Kearns Library on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. Here are some non-book resources available at Utah libraries you may not know about, including at the new Kearns Library. From access to a sound studio, 3D printers, bike repair tools and more, libraries are sources for a variety of life-enriching resources, not just books.

Level up your skills

When a car’s brake pads are squeaking or a kitchen faucet is leaking, skip the repair bill and learn how to fix it yourself with digital how-to guides.

You can also learn how to write a resume, take arts and crafts classes, or become a Microsoft Excel wizard. Selection varies by library system and branch.

Where: At SLCPL.org, click “Explore,” then “Digital Library,” then browse by topic. At SLCOlibrary.org, click on the “Learn” tab. Then under “Popular Topics,” click “How to.”

Read the newspaper

All library patrons across the state have unlimited access to The Salt Lake Tribune at sltrib.com, including subscriber-only stories.

Through The City Library’s website, you can also read The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, as well 600 international, national and regional newspapers through ProQuest Newsstand (in The Digital Library).

Borrow from the Library of Things

Discover new technology and even new worlds with The County Library’s growing Library of Things. The collection of equipment is free to check out by adult patrons and includes internet hot spots, Chromebooks, tablets and telescopes to take stargazing.

“Preserve the Memory” equipment also available will get you started on digitizing those shoeboxes of old photos, film, slides and cassette tapes for future generations.

Where: Selection varies by branch and is subject to availability. Go to SLCOlibrary.org for more information. The City Library also has digital conversion equipment.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) One of the telescopes that can be checked out, at the Marmalade Branch of the SLC public library system, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021.

Listen to local tunes

Find something truly unique to hum along to by browsing the HUM database at hum.slcpl.org. Curated by a group of music makers, writers and producers, HUM is a treasure trove of local music that ranges in style from rock to country.

Use your library card to stream and download for free.

Get creative

The cost of high-quality equipment needed for 3D printing, embroidery, engraving, robotics, design or sound production doesn’t have to curb your creativity.

The County Library’s selection of gear and software will allow any artist to explore and grow. For a complete list of everything that’s available, visit slcolibrary.org/information/create.

The City Library also offers a large selection of equipment for photography, sewing (bring your own thread and fabric), graphic design, button-making, laminating, video production and more.

Where: The County Library’s Holladay, Kearns and Magna branches, or The City Library’s Main Library, plus the Marmalade, Glendale and Sprague branches.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Marmalade Branch of the Salt Lake City Public Library system has sewing machines available for use, as shown on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021.

Play the game

Discover your next favorite board game at the Marmalade Game Exchange, the latest addition to the Marmalade branch of The City Library.

Just bring a lightly used board game (make sure all the pieces are inside) to the library and trade it in for a new-to-you game that you can take home — and keep.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Game Exchange, at the Marmalade Branch of the SLC public library system, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021.

Remember the good times

Memory Care Kits, designed for people suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, are now available through The City Library.

The kits come in five different themes: music, travel, pets, outdoors or transportation. Each kit contains DVDs, fidget toys, books, CDs and other items that can “spark conversations, offer respite for caregivers, and provide activities that can stimulate memories,” the library said.

To browse different kits, visit SLCPL.org.

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