One of the problems that I faced in my first year of living in Nicaragua was that I acutely felt the loss of not living near a world-class library system. We had brought our own physical library of books but as you know with kids, they consume books like paper towels when they love to read and we found that ordering books from organizations like Better World Books didn’t work for Nicaragua, they were simply stolen from out of the mail.
We began to rely more heavily on our Kindle Paperwhite digital reader for purchasing new titles. Aiden was at that time just starting to read chapter books but he could get through them so quickly! Books were becoming a frequent purchase and there was always a need for more titles- not only for Aiden but for me, too.
LITERARY LIFE HACK # 1: Connect your digital reader to your local library back home.
A year into our move, I remembered a pamphlet I had picked up at the library as we were leaving Charlotte, North Carolina (USA) that mentioned connecting digital readers like Kindle to our Charlotte Public Library account.
So I sat down and read through the directions and minutes later I was selecting books online at the Charlotte Library website and Amazon was delivering the books to my Kindle for free! In fact, I connected each member of our household who held a library card and for each person we could check out 10 e-books or audio books. Good deal!
A year later, when our Charlotte library cards expired, I called a Charlotte library branch from Nicaragua to get the memberships extended. The library requested when I called that we come into one of the branches in person, but they were able to handle the extension over the phone when I explained that we weren’t able to come in (by the way, this is another reason why I love having a Magicjack Go device that gives me a USA phone number just for these kind of calls that do come up when you live abroad).
So know before you go, if you have not joined your local library yet, please do it before you start your world travels! But if you didn’t, there is still hope…
LITERARY LIFE HACK # 2:
Connect your digital reader to the Fairfax County Library in Virginia for $27.
Then a year later, the unthinkable happened. We had run out of youth book selections for the online Charlotte library that Aiden really wanted to read and there were popular book series that Aiden wanted to explore that Charlotte didn’t stock online.
Would I have to go back to purchasing each new book again?
I did a little digging and found out that there are a few libraries in the United States that let you join the library by paying a non-resident fee. The very best of these libraries for the book selection and for the low fee is the Fairfax County Public Library of Virginia. Buying a membership to the Fairfax County library reconnected us to a fresh selection of books that complemented the books we couldn’t find in Charlotte’s online library.
Connecting to the Fairfax County Public Libary is easy, fast and cheap and you will not believe the value that it adds to your literary life. You can borrow 10 titles at a time and you can explore the titles here that you will enjoy with your $27 annual membership!
To join the Fairfax Country Public Libary as a non-resident for $27 visit this page and fill out the form. You will need to type in an address and phone number in the United States to successfully fill out the required fields in the form. However, I suspect that you could put in any US address and it would accept it as yours.
The library will email you a library card number and pin code right away that will become active when you pay the library’s annual fee. This email will also contain the invoice link to pay the $27 with a Visa or Mastercard. You do not need to go into a Fairfax County Public Library branch to finish becoming a member (as many other non-resident library memberships require). This whole process is done online and we did it from Nicaragua, but it is most efficiently accomplished Monday thru Friday.
Now that you are a member you can go hunt for all those great books your kids have been burning to read at the Fairfax County Library Overdrive website. At the Overdrive site you will sign in using the library card number and pin code that the Fairfax Country Library emailed you.
When you click borrow or hold on a book selection, the title goes into your cart (the cart looks like a stack of three books on the upper right hand corner).
When you go to your cart you will find the title again and you can choose to download the book to your Kindle or read it straight in your browser.
If you choose to download your library book to your Kindle you will be directed over to the Amazon website where you will need to log in and then you will be prompted to download your book to your Kindle (you can also choose here to which Kindle you want the book delivered.
You will need WiFi to to download a book, but if you don’t have it at the moment, it will download automatically when you do connect.
The nice thing about borrowing ebooks from the library is that there are no overdue fines and titles are returned automatically when the checkout period expires or may be returned early!
When you want to return a book early to the library to borrow more titles go to Amazon’s page called Manage Your Content and Devices. There you will see a list of all your loans and can direct them to be instantly returned to the library.
For more details on how to use the Overdrive site for downloading onto your Kindle through Amazon, you can read this tutorial from Overdrive.
Many countries outside the United States have libraries with an online borrowing system for digital readers although they do not yet work with Kindles specifically. So if you are reading this from Australia, Canada, or Italy keep your local library in mind. But if your library isn’t enough there is always another one out there…
I sincerely hope that this library book connection keeps your family supplied with great reading material throughout all your travels around the world!