Two students walking downstairs.

January is a time when many of us get ready to try something new: a new semester, a new habit, a New Year’s resolution. Why not do something new at the Penn Libraries as well? You probably know that our library locations are great places to find books, read articles, and study for finals, but did you know that you can also use your PennCard to borrow musical instruments from the Libraries? Or learn a new language online? Or even check out recording equipment so that you can finally start that podcast?

This semester, spend some time exploring what your library has to offer beyond books. Whether you’re on campus or beginning the semester remotely, we’re here to help you learn new skills, stay informed, and reach your goals. Here are just a few of the lesser-known things the Libraries can help you achieve in 2022: 

Produce an original song

Let the Penn Libraries help you achieve your singer-songwriter dreams. Get started by checking out a keyboard, a synthesizer, or even a theremin. Compose music with the help of software like Finale or Sibelius, both of which are available on desktop and laptop computers in the Ormandy Music and Media Center. Put it all together using the audio software that best suits your needs. You’ll start appearing on Spotify playlists in no time. 

Host a movie night with your friends

Did you know that you can rent DVDs from the Penn Libraries? Yes, we said DVDs! With new streaming services popping up every day and licensing agreements continually shifting, it’s becoming harder and harder to just rely on Netflix for all your movie-watching needs. Circumvent the whole streaming industrial complex by choosing a film from our vast selection. Don’t have a DVD player of your own? Many of our reservable study rooms have one available.

Document your family’s story

Do you have a family member, friend, or neighbor whose remarkable life deserves to be remembered? Don’t wait to tell their story! Log in to your library account with your PennCard and start your research using Ancestry, which makes Census records, government documents, and even high school yearbooks available and keyword searchable. Turn your discoveries into a film or slideshow using Final Cut Pro, and ta-da! You have a heartfelt DIY gift for a loved one. 

Experience live theater from the comfort of your couch

This one’s for you, music and theater nerds! Use your PennCard to stream Broadway musicals, Pulitzer Prize-winning plays, opera, and live musical performances using databases like Academic Video Online or Digital Theater+. It’s a lot cheaper – and in the age of COVID, perhaps safer – than traveling to New York City. Fancy clothes aren’t required, but they are encouraged.

Find out why everyone is mad on Twitter

Keeping up with the rapidly-moving news cycle is tough, but the Penn Libraries is here to help. Access online versions of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal through our online catalog, and search our databases of even more historical and contemporary newspapers. We can’t promise that it will make you less anxious about the state of the world, but you will be better informed.