Accessing Your Public Library Online

Canadian public libraries have so many resources available online, we’re going to skip a lengthy introduction and dive right in. 

Story times on YouTube

Miss going to library story time with your little one? It’s all on YouTube now. For example, take a look at the Toronto Public Library’s collection, or Vancouver Public Library’s virtual story time, or the Calgary Public Library’s babies at home videos.  

Homework Help

Many public libraries have rolled out online homework help programs, including Calgary, Regina, Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto, and Halifax. Visit your city’s library homepage and see if they’re offering online homework help. Chances are, they have multiple programs. 

Movies & Music

Did you know that many library cards allow you access to online movie, music, and streaming services? It’s true. We’re talking about streaming services like Kanopy, which specializes in indie movies like Boyhood and Hearts Out Loud. Or there’s Hoopla, which also collects movies and TV. And there’s, a collection of plays, opera, ballets, and just about every type out highbrow entertainment you can think of. And of course, many libraries have movies, TV, and music as part of their collections and are in the process of digitizing them. Depending on the size of your library, you may have access to quite a lot of options.

Newspapers & Magazines

Many library cards allow you access to the digital versions of newspapers and magazines. You may not actually be blocked by a paywall—your library card may grant you access to major sites like NYT or the Guardian. In fact, many libraries have access to programs like PressReader, RBDigital, or Flipster, which collect large numbers of publications. 


Whether you like indie titles by D&Q or superhero adventures from DC and Marvel, many libraries let you borrow digital copies of comic books through services like Hoopla or OverDrive. You’re likely limited to something like four graphic novels per month, but some libraries have increased their borrowing limits for the time being. 

Digital Learning

Do you want to take a course? Your library can likely give you access to dozens if not hundreds of online courses through programs like Lynda, Brainfuse Adult Learning, the Great Courses, and Mango Languages. You can get so much for free, you and your family will be spoiled for choice. 

Online & Audio Books

And let’s not forget books!  Your library has those too. In fact, you’d be amazed at the incredible range of titles available to you. Need some new cookbooks? Or some French language books? Or really specific tech books? Or the latest indie thriller? Or some exclusive Canadian content? Your library likely has more than enough to keep you busy. 

And More!

Every library has some extra stuff. Maybe yours does dial-a-story. Or they’re still hosting guest speakers. Or they have an indigenous storyteller in residence. The point we’re making is libraries offer so much in terms of content and programming. Most people don’t know that much of this content and programming exists or is available, and that’s a shame. Check out your local libraries main page and check out all the digital stuff they have. You’ll likely be pleasantly surprised.