By Georgine Wallace and The Friends of the SW Library

When the March 16 closure of the DC Public Library was announced, book lovers swarmed to their branches to both return and check out items. The idea of a bookless spring seemed too much to bear, but thankfullyDCPL has online resources that may help ease the loss.

As the local “boots on the ground” for the library system, The Friends of the SW Library was given the mission of making sure the good people of Southwest and Navy Yard knew of the digital collection. Some of us, however, came to the somewhat scandalous realization that they had not looked at that section of the DCPL site for a few years. In fact, a couple members had never looked at it. In an effort to avoid a scandal so far reaching that we may be asked to hand over our library cards, we decided to explore GoDigital.  

Located at, the collection is divided into four sections: Watch (movies and documentaries), Read (books and magazines), Listen (music and audiobooks), and Learn (job search tutorials, online courses to learn business skills, foreign languages, historical research, and more). 

The reaction most members had was “wow, there is a lot here!” If you have not looked at the Library’s online options in a couple years, they have dramatically increased them. There is something for everyone, and it is all free. A couple components may ask for payment after a trial period but most just ask for your library card number, zip code, and email address. Note that the reason they ask for zip codes is that the Library reports usage based on Wards. Your email address and library card are used for login purposes. 

Watch – Movies and Documentaries 

This section contains thousands of free videos for adults, teens, and kids. Access Video provides shorter videos and documentaries for all ages – everything from HBO to Sesame Street. Longer movies and Courses are available under Kanopy. Kanopy allows you to check out six movies per month on a three day rental. Some movies are available as no credit and can be downloaded even if you have exceeded your monthly allowance. You can also bookmark selections to view later on. You will need to create an account but the process is simple.  

Read – Magazines, Newspapers and Books

According to Renee Gaillard, a new member, “I knew their Overdrive/e-book borrowing has always been there but with self-distancing, it inspired me to get an e-reader, and I’ve been borrowing books consistently. A good problem is that there are plenty of books I’d like to read, but are in such high demand that some of the wait times are 7-8 weeks! But I’ll take the long wait if it means others are reading it and that I get to read other things in the meantime. The Overdrive system makes it really easy to borrow or put holds on books. I like that there is an automatic return too, and you can choose to borrow for 7, 14, or 21 days, which encourages me to read more because I want to finish the book before it automatically gets returned back.” 

You will need to use Chrome as the browser but Tumblebooks, an ebook collection for children, may help occupy young ones bored with their book collection at home. Note that magazines, including Southwest favorites like the New Yorker, and newspapers are also available for checkout. Historical newspapers, both national and from abroad, from the 19th century are also available. 

Listen – Music and audiobooks

Download music and your favorite audiobooks (via Overdrive) in this section. Fregal is the music gateway and offers albums from artists and also special collections from libraries across the country. You may find it helpful to view the tutorial prior to using these tools.

Learn – Databases and online tutorials

This section is full of online tutorials that can teach you anything from how to write a resume to learning a language, and provides research assistance for students. Also found here is access to the Library’s special collection under DigDC. DigDC should come with a warning label as it is very addictive to history lovers. Historical maps, photographic collections, oral histories, newspaper archives, and cartoon collections abound. For Southwesters, The Buzzard Point Oral History Project has special meaning in that it contains submissions by many members of our community. You can spend months just in DigDC alone.

Though it is not the same as walking into the Library and perusing a long row of books, GoDigital is a great way to learn new skills, entertain your family, and laugh.

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