500 W. Third St.
Fort Worth, TX 76102
Mon – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.;
Tue – 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.;
Wed – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.;
Thu – 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.;
Fri – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.;
Sat – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.;
Sun – 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
When science fiction writer Ray Bradbury couldn’t afford college, he went to a library three days a week for 10 years; he later said the “library educated me, not the college.” You’ll be truly surprised by how much you can learn for free at the Fort Worth Public Library, and by the amazing range of services offered. The librarians are eager to help, and parking is free at all branches.
Books and More
A library card is your key to the library. Free Cards are available for people, businesses, and groups residing or owning property within Fort Worth city limits. Driver’s licenses, report cards, recent utility bills, and other forms of identification can serve as proof of residency. Applications are available at the Circulation Desk in both Spanish and English. Library cards allow you to borrow items, and there are plenty; for example, the Central Library location had 398,413 items in its collection as of 2008.
With the staggering number of books in sight, you might not know where to start. You can ask a librarian for suggestions based on your interests or try the NoveList Plus guide on one of the computers to find fiction or nonfiction books you might like.
The Media Room offers information and recommendations on movies, television, music, and audiobooks, any of which you can borrow for free. Digital editions are available also.
One of the most comprehensive resources available is the reference database, many of which can be accessed from home using your library card number. Databases include everything from Academic Search Premier (scholarly articles on topics such as religion or engineering or physics) to Newsbank (articles, letters, and editorials from many local and nationwide newspapers dating back for decades) to Health Source – Consumer Edition (full articles on medical concerns such as nutrition and childcare).
Programs and Events
Many library branches host regular book discussion groups. At the Central Library, for instance, a book discussion group meets on the second Sunday of the month; as an example, on February 12, 2012, that group is discussing Robert Heinlein’s novel Stranger in a Strange Land. On the second Saturday of each month, the Central Library branch shows a family-friendly movie, and on the first Sunday of each month, a film-club movie such as a thought-provoking documentary. May through October, again at the Central Library location, the third Thursday of the month brings a free jazz concert — once a group played the entire Miles Davis Kind of Blue album from start to finish! Many of the library branches put on regular story times for preschoolers and older children both, sometimes in both English and Spanish; check the library calendars for more information. There are even specially trained therapy dogs available for free at the Central Library on the first Saturday of each month at 1 p.m. to help young children who are nervous about reading, which is a more common problem than you might think.
All library branches have desktop computers for free public use, and sometimes even laptops! With them you can access the Internet or use software such as Microsoft Word. Computers are equipped with USB and DVD/CD-RW drives and jacks for headsets; you can borrow a headset or bring your own. You can have up to two one-hour computer sessions per day, and you can reserve a spot to use a computer any time on the day you wish to use one. Many of the branches offer free WiFi. Printing from the computers costs .15 cents for a black-and-white page, .50 cents for a color page. At the Central Library location, there are special computers designed for folks with accessibility challenges. You can call to sign up for computer classes in English (817-392-7701) or in Spanish (817-871-7701). The Library also recommends websites for accuracy, reliability, and ease of use.
Classes and Literacy
Many educational classes are available at various library locations. Workforce Solutions offers free classes for employment — everything from interview tips to resume advice to job search assistance. The Southwest Regional Library provides digital download classes that explain how to use Nooks, Kindles, and other eReaders. The Riverside Branch Library offers English conversation classes, and the Central Library offers beginner and intermediate conversation classes for Spanish. Free income tax preparation assistance is available at several library locations in English or Spanish, but you need to schedule it by asking the librarians.
You can register to vote for free at any Fort Worth Public Library location. The Library also rents out meeting rooms, offers homework help (at the Central Library’s Teen Zone), and allows you to make copies in black and white for .15 cents. You can study genealogy — some records date back to the 16th century! Volunteer and donation opportunties are available. If the service or educational item you seek isn’t readily available at the library, the librarians almost certainly will know how to help you find it.
You could spend your entire life happily listening to music from around the world, reading books and database articles, and watching old movies, all for free, at the Library, and still not go through everything available. Libraries are constantly struggling with government budget cuts, so be sure to take advantage of what the City makes available to you and to help the Library when you can!