Libraries are totally undervalued as a resource by people on holiday. They hold a wealth of information that can be super useful and also provide an insight into the culture that you are exploring. Enjoy!
So you have just arrived in a brand new city and want to find some cool places to go. While your first port of call would usually be a tourist office or brochures in a hostel/hotel lobby why not head to the local library? Most will have guidebooks that you can browse - there is no need to buy the detailed and expensive single-country versions of these anymore!
Maybe that guidebook you're looking at has a section on some common greetings and phrases. But what if you have a not so common interest? Luckily libraries also tend to stock language dictionaries, so you can look up the word for "post box" in Pinyin while in China (it's "yóutǒng" in case you were wondering), and marvel at the green boxes to your hearts content.
While we are on the topic of languages, it is pretty common for librarians to know multiple languages. So if you are ever lost and in need of some directions there is bound to be a member of staff around who could give you a hand.
There are very few places where it is publicly acceptable to nap. Trains are fine, as are airports, and a nice sunny patch of grass is ideal if the weather permits. However, if it is blowing a gale outside and you can't check in to your accommodation for a few hours why not find the closest academic library? Sure you might get a few strange looks and a nudge or two if you're prone to snoring, but it is nothing they haven't seen before!
Libraries all over the world can also provide you with access to one of the traveler's most highly sought after resources: the internet. If you have a device that can connect to the wireless chances are you can access it for free. Otherwise you could probably talk a staff member into letting you sign up as a member even though you *technically* don't reside nearby. Perhaps you could carry around a few pairs of these awesome socks as a thank you present?
Number six on the list should come as no surprise - if you're all tuckered out from sight seeing you can find a comfy spot in the library and good book (I would highly recommend a short story collection as you can finish up in the middle and not be horribly disappointed). Lots of libraries will also have a local history section, newspapers and magazines so you can do a bit of background reading if you would like to understand a bit more about the place you are visiting.
Picture this: You have a slight obsession with American beat poets so you jump onto the catalogue to find your favourite Jack Kerouac title. Unfortunately it's on reserve and due to be picked up sometime today. You locate the reserves shelf and to your delight it is still there! You decide that you'll take the chance and pick it up - just for a quick peruse of course. Next thing you know the most stunningly attractive person taps you on the shoulder and tell you that they are the one the book was reserved for. You immediately bond over shared passions, fall in love and live happily ever after.
O.K. so maybe number seven isn't quite as realistically useful as the others but you never know where you will meet someone new. I hope this post has given you a few new ideas about what libraries can be used for while travelling, feel free to leave a comment with any other ideas!