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Librarian in Residence: The most powerful card in your wallet

By Jessica Green on July 10, 2013

Jessica Green is a book addict and library card holder since the age of 5. She’s a librarian at the Ottawa Public Library and currently the Apartment613 Librarian-in-Residence, sharing a compendium of literary thoughts and tips. 

It’s not your credit card, your driver’s license, or your health card, but your library card. You can remove that skeptical look from your face as I’ll tell you why this piece of plastic is mighty.

First off, your Ottawa Public Library card is free if you live in Ottawa. It gives you access to over 2.3 million holdings, which includes books, magazines, graphic novels, DVDs, and even iPads and Chromebooks in some locations. These good things are spread all over the city in 33 branches and two bookmobiles, and if the particular thing you want isn’t in your branch, you can request for it to be sent your way.  We collect items in English and French, and in ten other languages as well.

Still not finding what you want? You can also do an interlibrary loan, which gives you access to libraries all over Southern Ontario, Canada and the rest of the world. This can take time, but if you need that particular book about rare breeds of chicken, or the history of bicycling, we can do the searching for you.

If there’s a recent item you can’t find at the library, and you think other people would find useful or enjoy reading, please suggest it to us. If it came out between January 2010 and now, you can make a suggestion to purchase. I have been told we buy quite a lot of the suggested items, and this also helps us keep the holdings relevant to you.

Live your life online and have little time for these “print artefacts”? We have a growing collection of e-books you can download to the device of choice. We recently got access to Zinio where you can get free digital versions of magazines. You can also read scanned newspapers on Library Press Display which has an impressive list of titles from around the world. We have much more available in our databases section, everything from auto repair to language learning.

Have a small business? Researching your origins? Need job search help? You can book a one-on-one session with librarians who specialise in these areas. You’ll always find branch information staff on hand to answer many of your questions as well, so just ask us.

This just scrapes the surface of what is available at the library! Did I mention this is all FREE to you, the cardholder? Andrew Carnegie, the man responsible for building many libraries found in North America, put it best, “There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the Earth as the Free Public Library — this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.”

Three quick book picks that I recently read:


Shakespeare’s Tremor and Orwell’s Cough: the Medical Lives of Great Writers by John J. Ross – a lively look at some assumed and some known afflictions of writers like Milton, Joyce, Orwell and Shakespeare. You’ll learn a lot about treating syphilis with mercury.

Powers: The Definitive Hardcover Collection, Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis – You follow the story of detectives trying to find out what is really happening to superheroes being killed off. I really like the art, but the story is definitely not for kids.

Pure by Juliana Baggot – A very excellent version of the teen post-apocalyptic meme where 16 year Pressia searches for her mother, but this barely describes the uniqueness of this world. I am reading the sequel, Fuse, right now