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  • Bailey McFadden

A Guide to Free D.C. Library Resources for Students


The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, DCPL’s central location / Credits: Bailey McFadden


There are many free resources available for D.C. citizens through D.C. Public Libraries that would otherwise be incredibly expensive. However, many students are not aware of them.


Library cards are free for D.C. residents and can be used to access all of the following resources. All of these resources can be found on the “Research & Learn” tab on the DCPL website.


Research & Educational Databases


JSTOR: Contains the full text of more than 2,300 journals from 1,000 publishers and is otherwise $19.50 a month ($234 a year). Ancestry Library Edition: Contains access to the largest database of genealogy archives online, and normally costs $24.99 a month ($299.88 a year).


Gale Databases: Encompasses hundreds of thousands of research materials in different categories, such as science, global issues and opposing viewpoints. Access to Gale databases is only sold to library or school systems, and is thousands of dollars a year.


Harvard Business Review: Provides access to articles published from 1922 to the present, which otherwise costs $10 a month ($120 a year).


Newspaper and Magazine Archives: JET, LIFE, EBONY, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and others, which altogether encompass thousands of published articles from the 1900s to now. LinkedIn Learning: Includes thousands of instructional videos for career learning, normally costs $19.99 a month ($239.88 a year).


Entertainment & Creative Databases


Creativebug: Watch or upload instructional videos for a variety of creative endeavors. Normally $7.95 a month ($95.40 a year).


Comics Plus: Provides access to thousands of comics, graphic novels and Manga. It is only accessible through libraries and schools.


OverDrive/Libby: Provides access to thousands of books, graphic novels and audiobooks, including recent releases. You can download up to 10 ebooks or audiobooks at a time and must “return” them after a period of 7, 14, or 21 days. This essentially functions as a library system with practically unlimited access.


Kanopy: Gives access to 30,000+ films and TV shows. You can watch 10 videos per month, using a ‘credit’ system. It features mainly indie and educational films.


Other Resources


In addition to DCPL’s online resources, much is available at in-person libraries, particularly the central Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. This includes “lab rooms,” which offer services like a podcasting station, a 3D printer and a sewing lab. Students can also reserve study rooms and meeting rooms for free. Finally, “The People’s Archive” is accessible to the public by appointment, and houses D.C. historical records. There are so many resources available to you — go use them!

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