The Best Online Library Resources You Can Access Without Leaving Home

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As social distancing at home is enforced with the coronavirus outbreak, local families are thinking of different ways to engage with community resources. Local library branches are closed in Lake Macquarie, Newcastle and Maitland. But even though you can’t physically visit a library, there are lots of great free online virtual library resources you can access without leaving home like ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, movies, music, courses and more.

Lake Macquarie City Library

Lake Mac Libraries have a range of ebooks that you can borrow and the free e-library is available 24/7. Can’t get into the library to join? People who can’t visit a library may join online and use this temporary membership to access the e-library.

There are three different online catalogues to choose from. Enjoy Australian fiction by best-selling authors as well as ABC publications, picture books, biographies and true crime stories in Bolinda Digital. Those who prefer sweeping romance novels, breathtaking crime thrillers, and beloved classics can peruse through RBdigital eBooks. If you want to choose from some non-fiction titles, check out Axis360 eBooks. It contains bestselling authors as well as full-colour travel guides, children’s stories, cookbooks, study material and self-help information. There are also Audiobooks available for those who prefer to listen to books.

If you want to download music, visit Freegal eMusic. It features eight million songs and music videos with something to suit all music tastes.

There are magazines available as well. RBdigital eMagazines and Comics features hundreds of free, full colour eMagazines and comic books.

For kids missing out on Storytime, log onto the Storybox Library where some of Australia’s best storytellers read their stories on screen. It’s a vibrant and interactive way for children to enjoy their favourite Australian children’s stories, and enjoy a storytime at home.

There are many information sources available from home that include information and how-to for hobbies, craft, history and science as well as general reference sources.  

Maitland Library

Maitland Library has a range of online options for accessing their materials. Many of these will need a Maitland City Library card for access. You can sign up for online registration here

To get started, check out their e-book and e-audio instruction page. Once you download the apps, it’s a breeze to download eBooks and audiobooks. It’s easy to choose and read an eBook whenever and wherever you want, from their growing collections of new and classic titles. Borrow Box and Wheelers are the two platforms that they use.

For e-magazines and e-comics, these are provided through RB Digital. Maitland Library offers a selection for teens and children as well as a large selection of Marvel comics.

There are also TV and movies which can be streamed at home at no cost.  Kanopy is the popular on-demand streaming service available for free to Maitland City Library members.  Includes Kanopy Kids to inspire and inform – ABC Kids, movies and TV series, classic tales, learning about science, math, nature, food and nutrition.  There’s also Beamafilm, where you can stream the latest documentaries and indie feature films for free. The site is home to over 400 award-winning documentaries, independent features and festival favourites.  

If you want to listen to music, your library membership gives you free and legal access to millions of songs in all genres and styles of music.  Through your membership, you can download up to five songs per week from Freegal. The collection includes new releases, full albums and music videos in every genre you can imagine.

If you want to research a topic, Maitland Library has lots of research options that can be accessed from Encyclopedia Britannica for kids to Family History to career help. It’s the page to visit for answers and help with assignments. There is also a local history section that, aside from being a point of interest for comparing then and now, has a lot of information on local places, people and events that could be helpful with school assignments.

For younger kids and anyone that appreciates a good storybook, Maitland Library members can access Storybox,a popular website in which authors, actors, celebrities and personalities read picture books in these delightful videos.

For adults, you can access podcasts which feature authors who have presented at Maitland Library’s Look Who’s Talking events. Authors include Heather Morris, Jane Caro and Hugh Mackay.

Newcastle Libraries

Download eBooks and eMagazines from Newcastle Libraries collection. Find the latest and greatest reads at your fingertips, keep up with current affairs and flick through new magazines now! Let your favourite reading material follow you wherever you go.

Download free eBooks from a range of collections to your tablet, eReader, smartphone or PC. As well as new release and best-selling fiction, you can access non-fiction eBooks on lots of different subjects. You’ll need to download the RB Digital, BorrowBox App and Axis 360 applications to download and read titles and listen to audiobooks.

There’s also an extensive collections of eMagazines which you can read on your tablet, smartphone or computer. Access popular Australian and International magazines for the whole family like National Geographic Kids, PK Mag for Creative Kids, Gourmet Traveller, Marie Claire and Vanity Fair.

If you’re after films and documentaries, Newcastle Libraries has an eFilm collection. Watch over 26,000 films on Kanopy, including favourites from Australia and New Zealand, as well as a unique collection of over 500 award-winning documentaries, independent features and festival favourites on Beamafilm.

You can now stream and download free legal music with your library card and Freegal. Access over 8 million songs, including Sony Music’s catalogue of legendary musicians, many of today’s top artists, a fantastic retrospective collection, as well as music from around the world.

Take a free course with Lynda, an online learning resource. is an online learning site that hosts a constantly growing library of over 3,000 courses that include over 130,000 videos. Courses cover a variety of topics (including business, design, web development and multimedia skills) and software (Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite and open source applications) that can help you pursue personal and professional goals.

For kids, there’s a selection of student resources available including DK Find Out!, National Geographic Kids and Encyclopaedia Britannica. Newcastle Libraries also offers Studiosity which provides free access to online tutors for students in years 3-12. It’s available 24/7 all year round, maximum 30 sessions per user, per term. All Maths, English and Science topics are included. To access, just enter your library card number or download the app.

For kids missing out on Storytime, log onto the Storybox Library where some of Australia’s best storytellers read their stories on screen. It’s a vibrant and interactive way for children to enjoy their favourite Australian children’s stories, and enjoy a storytime at home.

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