Library Hacks

Have you ever had one of those moments where you say, “I didn’t know the library offered that.”

Well, get ready to have those moments a lot more.

Library Hacks offer the library’s best-kept (but most useful) secrets.

We’ll release new hacks every month designed to simplify your life, save you money, and help you get more out of WCLS. So, stay tuned for more hacks!

Psst . . . you’ll need your WCLS card to access all of these awesome hacks, so if you don’t already have one, sign up for a library card today (it only takes two minutes!).

Download and keep 5 free songs a week

Your WCLS card gives you a free subscription to Freegal Music, a service that allows you to stream up to three hours of commercial-free music a day and download and keep five free songs a week!

Plus, there’s never a wait on any songs, playlists, or albums—you can instantly listen to the music you want.

How to leave a review

  1. Log into your WCLS account with your library card number and PIN (this is typically the last four digits of your phone number).
  2. Search and select the item you want to review/rate, then select how many stars you’d give that title.
  3. Scroll down and select “Add a comment,” enter your review, then select “Post comment.” You can also add age suitability, quotes, summaries, and videos.

Top 4 homework hacks


  1. Britannica Library OnlineEncyclopedia Britannica is one of the world’s most trusted resources for researching history, philosophy, technology, politics, health, and more. Search a person, topic, place, or idea, and access articles, videos, photos and images, magazine entries, and primary sources.
  2. Librarian Live Chat: Chat with librarians across Washington State 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These are professional librarians ready to answer your questions; you can ask them for homework help, book recommendations, hard-to-find items, and more!
  3. Culturegrams: Culturegrams simplifies history and geography research. Access everything you want to know about a certain place: graphs and tables, recipes, famous people, language, flags, demographics, and more.
  4. History Study Center: This massive online database includes thousands of primary and secondary historical sources, from ancient times to today. Explore medieval knights, the Han Dynasty, ancient Egypt, and more!

Save $1,700/yr. with free digital entertainment

Your WCLS card can save you a considerable amount of money on the digital resources and entertainment you use every day.

Here’s how the numbers break down:

With your WCLS card, you get to access the latest and greatest digital entertainment from anywhere, while also saving a significant amount of money (it’s a win-win).

How to create your online library profile

Your WCLS card comes with a free online library profile that allows you to leave reviews, create lists, and follow others.

To get started, log into your library account , select “My Profile”  under “My WCLS,” then start adding content and following others!

With your online profile, you can:

  • Create lists of books, movies, music, and more
  • Tell us about yourself with a personalized profile
  • Keep track of your “for later” and “finished” books
  • Follow and connect with others

Get personalized book recommendations

Find your next favorite read: with your WCLS card, you get a free subscription to NoveList, a powerful book recommendation tool that offers personalized book ideas. Find books/eBooks/eAudiobooks based on:

  • Read-a-likes: get recommendations based on past reads within the same series, by the same author, or within the same genre/plot line.
  • Specific style: choose the storyline, character, writing style, and tone you prefer, then get clickable links to the books that suit your style.
  • Key criteria: search by topic, keyword, plot, genre, time period, and reading level. For example, enter “New York 1920 Family Fiction” into the search bar, and get a list of books that meet this criteria.
  • Emotional appeal: search books that are unconventional and thought-provoking, intricately plotted and compelling, exaggerated and more.

When you find a book you like, select “Search the Whatcom County Library System,” and you’ll be taken straight to that item’s reservation page.

Return library items at convenient community drop-offs

WCLS isn’t the only place you can return library materials . . . in fact, we offer 23 locations around the county where you can drop off all library materials.

Choose from drop-offs in Birch Bay, Acme, Bellingham, Maple Falls, and more! See all drop-off locations, including our 11 library locations, with this interactive map

Stream 11 million+ commercial-free songs

While most commercial-free music services cost money, you can stream 11 million+ commercial-free songs and albums for free with your WCLS card!

Your WCLS card gives you a free subscription to Freegal Music, a service that allows you to stream up to three hours of music a day, and download and keep five free songs a week!

Plus, there’s never a wait on any songs, playlists, or albums—you can instantly listen to the music you want. Start streaming free music now!

Get eBooks and eAudiobooks on-the-go with the OverDrive App

The free OverDrive app allows you to download, access, and search free eBooks and eAudiobooks from your mobile device. Download content, search for your next read, access your account, and more.

Download the app for iOS or Android today!

3 free and easy ways to entertain the kids

Trying to find a free, yet fun, way to entertain the kids? Look no further than your local library. Our top three picks for entertaining the kids are:

  1. Summer Reading Bingo: Kids set their own goals and get to pick out a brand new book to keep when they’re done. And it’s free! Get your Summer Reading bingo card online or visit one of our 11 locations today and READ!
  2. Children’s programs: Choose from storytimes, LEGO Club, scavenger hunts, and even “Llamas at the Library” (yes, this event features real llamas). We offer programs for young kids (birth to 5), kids (6-12), and teens (13-18). Check out our easy-to-use calendarfor all upcoming events and programs!
  3. Free video games: WCLS offers nearly 200 of the latest video gamesfor Xbox one, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Playstation 4, Playstation 3, and more. Search video games now.

Get free job training

Access online tests, eBooks, and courses that train you for careers in nursing, accounting, teaching, air traffic control, and more. With your WCLS card, you can access the Testing & Education Reference Center and Microsoft Imagine Academy for free!

Login to the Testing & Education Reference Center to access more than 300 career tests and courses, along with dozes of study eBooks, scholarship information, and more.

To boost your tech and IT skills, check out the Microsoft Imagine Academy. Learn about IT infrastructure, app development, computer science, and more.

Request hard-to-find items with Interlibrary Loans

If something isn’t available from WCLS, you can request it from another library with our Interlibrary Loan service. In fact, this service provides access to libraries all over the globe! Request items like musical scores, government documents, journal articles, and more. Use this form to request an item today!

Download 25,000+ eBooks

With your handy WCLS card, you can download 25,000+ eBooks from anywhere!

Choose from new bestsellers, classic romances, thrilling fantasies, and more—all from the comfort of your couch, office, or gym.

To get started, go to the Washington Anytime Library website, login with your library card number and PIN, and start reserving materials today!

Learn 70+ languages for free

With your WCLS card, you get a Mango Languages account for free. Mango Languages offers comprehensive, yet straightforward online tutorials that teach you to speak more than 70 languages, including English, Spanish, French, Japanese, and more. This program breaks down each language into small, easily-digestible steps, and offers real-world examples that equip you for everyday conversations.

While other programs, like Rosetta Stone, cost nearly $200 per language—you can learn more than 70 languages for free with your library card. Login with your card to get started!

New Grab-and-Go Location: Northwest Drive Express

Calling all Laurel residents, soccer players, and Northwest Drive commuters: WCLS has just opened a new location right across the street from Northwest Soccer Park!

Northwest Drive Express offers an easy way to pick up library materials: just scan your WCLS card for entry and your holds will be waiting for you! Northwest Drive Express is open Monday-Thursday from 10am-9pm, Friday from 10am-6pm, Saturday from 10am-5pm, and Sunday from 1pm-5pm.

Enable single-click holds and automatic downloads

Make it even easier to place holds and download content by updating your library preferences.

When you enable automatic downloads, your eBook and eAudiobook holds will automatically download to your eReader as soon as they’re ready. See the 3-step instructions here.

You can also save yourself a step by choosing your default library pick-up location; all holds will automatically be delivered to your library of choice. See how to do this here.

Check out 25,000+ DVDs

Access more than 25,000 movies and TV shows for free with your WCLS card! Save money and entertain the whole family with top titles, like Finding Dory, Rogue One, The Big Bang Theory, and more.

If you miss the good ol’ days when you could browse through video stores, then come to the library! We have plenty of titles for you to peruse and check out.


Track your checkout history

See everything you’ve read and checked out in one place by turning on your borrowing history.

To respect your privacy, WCLS doesn’t automatically keep a record of your checkouts unless you give them permission to do so. But, if you’d like to keep a record of your checkouts, you can turn your borrowing history on in four easy steps. Go here to see the instructions. 

Explore 150 digital magazines for free

Digital magazines are the perfect choice for a vacation, gym read, or bus ride. And with your WCLS card, you get subscriptions to 150 digital magazines for free! Choose from some of today’s most popular magazines, like The EconomistUs WeeklyThe New YorkerNational GeographicCosmopolitanCook’s Illustrated, and much more.

Plus, there are no holds or wait lists—you can access your favorite magazines anytime and anywhere.

Add to your phone’s homescreen

Quickly access wherever you go by adding our website to your mobile device’s homescreen. Add WCLS in just three easy steps: see the instructions here.

Access Consumer Reports for free

Want to make smarter shopping choices? Use Consumer Reports! Consumer Reports offers thousands of objective reviews and comparisons on everything from cars to baby products to insurance and beyond. And with your WCLS card, you can access Consumer Reports online for free! Just login with your library card number to get started.  (Or reserve print copies from the library.)

Download 9,000+ eAudiobooks for free!

eAudiobooks have been growing and growing (and growing) in popularity over the last few years. And it makes sense—they’re perfect for road trips, long commutes, your morning workout, or for just giving your eyes a break and listening to your favorite stories.

Download eAudiobooks straight to your cell phone, tablet, or laptop and take them anywhere! If you really need something right now, you can sort eAudiobooks by what’s available now for download.

Get Chilton’s Manuals for free

The Chilton Library is one of the most (if not the most) trusted vehicle maintenance resource in the industry. With your WCLS card, you can access hundreds of detailed directions, diagrams, and tools to fix your car with Chilton’s online library and print manuals. Get step-by-step directions for repairs, troubleshooting illustrations, close-up photos, and more.

Check out a print copy or login to their digital library.

Access 15 million+ verified business contacts with ReferenceUSA

If you’re a business professional, you know how hard it can be to track down contact information. Particularly, for potential customers. Plus, purchasing contact lists can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. ReferenceUSA offers up-to-date contact information for more than 15 million U.S. companies and 1.9 million Canadian companies, along with data on industry trends and market research. Search by industry, company name, location, financial standing, and more.

Whether you’re a student conducting research, someone looking for a new job, or a business professional wanting to track down new contacts, ReferenceUSA is a priceless resource.

Explore your family history with Ancestry Library Edition

With Ancestry Library Edition, you can trace your family’s history, map your family tree, and explore your origins from across the globe. You’ll find reams of data on people from North America, the U.K., Europe, Australia, and more. Ancestry’s multimedia collections also include millions of files, like family and gravestone photos, postcards, newsreels, and more.

You can only access Ancestry from the library, so find your nearest library location and come in today!

Check out hundreds of video games

WCLS offers nearly 200 of the latest video games for Xbox one, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Playstation 4, Playstation 3, and more. Using the library’s video games can save you a considerable amount of money. The average video game costs $60 and renting them also costs about $14 a week.

Entertain the kids or grandkids (or yourself!) without breaking the bank: check out the latest video games from WCLS!

Get automated reminders with Library Elf

Wouldn’t it be great if you got a simple text message or email reminding you when your library materials are due? Or, if there was a central location where you could track your entire family’s checkouts and holds? With your free Library Elf subscription, you can.

The Library Elf app sends you friendly text or email reminders when items are due, when they’re overdue, and if you have a hold ready for pick-up. If you have multiple people in your home, this is the easiest way to track everyone’s checkouts, holds, and due dates from one central location.

Use Library Elf to avoid late fees and keep better track of your family’s checkouts!