Inspiration Lab

More from the library. This one’s for local readers.

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So my mom kept my first audiobook set from the 1980s!

It’s a preschool boxed set called Early World of Learning. The stories are about a rabbit named Amy, a monkey named Zak, and their 26 Alphabet Pals. The set included 10 audio cassette tapes and 19 books (unfortunately we lost the Amy and Zak puppets).

I definitely remember listening to and “reading” along when I was about 3 or 4 years old. I loved this series. I couldn’t wait to share this piece of nostalgia with my own daughter. The only problem was finding a cassette player.

Cue the Inspiration Lab at the Vancouver Public Library. If you want to digitize old cassette tapes, VHS tapes, or photographs; if you want to record or create your own audiobooks/podcasts or eBooks, this is the place to do it.

I used the audio cassette tape station to convert my set into MP3 files, which I can now take with me anywhere. It did take me 6 hours as the recording took place in real time. But the results are worth it!

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And my daughter now loves Amy and Zak too!

Tumble Books

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Maybe you need a little screen time for your younger child, but want an alternative to regular television. Check if your school or town library has a subscription to the Tumble Book Library (I am definitely lucky that Vancouver Public Library has so many digital resources). Tumble Books are interactive, talking picture books complete with animation, text, narration, and music! You read along on your computer or tablet. I haven’t fully explored all the features yet, but there are puzzles and games, books in other languages, National Geographic videos, graphic novels, and more.

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Slightly older children may enjoy Tumble Book Cloud Junior, same idea but meant for children in grades 3-8. My kids aren’t in school (yet – almost), so I haven’t gone through the content in great detail.

And of course, there is Tumble Book Cloud for teenagers and adults. Yes, something for everyone! Did I mention this is all free through our library!?

The Library

I love the library. I’ve always felt safe and at home there. This is my dream library…

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So of course, I went straight to my local Vancouver Public Library branch when I was looking for free and easily accessible road trip entertainment.

I first checked out the Books Plus CD section of the kids’ area, and eventually ventured over the Audiobook CD section. The Books Plus CDs are mostly shorter picture books, great to start out with, but only about 5 to 10 minutes long. I also needed to help my daughter turn the pages, as not all the CDs have cues, and she doesn’t know how to read yet. I now much prefer to borrow Audiobook CDs by themselves. M doesn’t seem to mind not having a book to follow along with. The stories are more complex and they are usually 60+ minutes long so I can actually get things done while she’s occupied.

Next, I discovered my library’s Digital Library online! Even better. I can browse titles from home, and no scratched and skipping CDs! I download titles onto an MP3 player and we take it everywhere. At the end of the loan period, the books are returned automatically so nothing is ever overdue!

The most common digital libraries (at least in Lower Mainland of Vancouver) are:

Check and see what your local library offers. To listen, you can usually either download the audiobook file, or download the app on your phone and stream your story! Just note that digital audiobooks and eBooks are typically only accessible to residents of that city, whereas I am able to borrow physical books and CDs from any of the nearby suburban libraries if there’s an elusive title I’m looking for. And this is just the start of all the library has to offer…