10 (Free) Ways to Use the L.A. Public Library While Actual Libraries Are Closed

Free newspaper subscriptions, movie streaming services, language lessons, and more are just a click away

On March 14, the city made the difficult decision to shutter the L.A. Public Library’s 73 locations through at least March 31.

Even though Angelenos can’t physically enter their local branches, the library has an array of e-media available to library card holders, from free movie streaming services to online subscriptions to major newspapers. Don’t have a card? No problem. You can register for an e-Card on on their website.

From audiobooks to digital photography exhibits, here are ten free ways to stay entertained and informed while you self-isolate.

E-books and Audiobooks

The library gives card-holders access to seven e-book and audiobook sites and apps, where users can listen to or read novels, magazines, and more. Overdrive and Hoopla are favorites (although you may have to put an audiobook on hold if someone else is already listening), and you can plot your post-confinement vacation using their collection of travel e-books. The content available is supported by different e-readers and tablets, and audiobooks play in-app on your smartphone. Library or e-card required.

Movies, TV, and More

If you haven’t taken advantage of free access to Kanopy through the library, you’re missing out. The streaming service has a slew of recent movies, as well as a stockpile of classics from the Criterion Collection. Choose your movies wisely—you only get ten free streams a month. But that’s only one of six streaming services library card holders have access to, including Digitalia (foreign-language films) and L.A. in Focus, which offers a collection of video lectures about photos in the library’s collection. Library card or e-card required.

TESSA Photo Archive

Can’t get enough L.A. history? You’re in luck. The TESSA Photo Archive has decades of old newspaper archives to digitally dig through, as well as curated digital exhibits to explore. No library card needed.



We need to keep up with what’s going on in the world now more than ever, and the library offers access to thousands of periodicals through apps like PressReader, as well as free digital subscriptions to The New York Times and The Washington Post. Library or e-card required.

Los Angeles Public Library on YouTube 

On the library’s YouTube channel, librarians delve into the stacks and shed light on L.A. history. Map librarian (and Los Angeles contributor) Glen Creason leads viewers on journeys through the “Map Cave” and California history expert Kelly Wallace sheds light on the history of Silver Lake. The channel also has interviews with authors, lectures, and more. No library card needed.



Check the library system’s blog for news, interviews with authors, and historical guides to the city and its people. No library card needed.


Have youngsters to keep busy? KidsPath is populated with kid-centric e-book and website recommendations, as well as a free online tutoring service for kids who need homework help.


Music and Podcasts

For audiophiles, the library offers access to five different digital media platforms that allow users to stream everything from music to podcasts targeted to teens about a variety of careers. Library or e-card required.

Language Learning Tools

Want to beef up your Spanish or Russian while you’re self-isolating? The library has eight language-instruction resources, including Mango, a mobile app that offers learn-at-your-own-pace lessons in 70 languages, including English instruction speakers of 19 different languages.

Online Learning


Angelenos eager to learn something new can avail themselves of eight online learning resources, including one that walks job-seekers through the process of changing careers and another that offers science lessons for kids at risk of isolation-induced brain drain.

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