The local library is a place of discovery, a perfect environment for nurturing your acquisitive impulses (think of all the talents you have been wanting to cultivate, the hobbies you’ve been hoping to take up, …). And with the upcoming How-To Festival, the opportunity to get help getting over that “where do I even start” slump is unmissable.

Whether your goal is to improve your posture or learn to talk like a pirate, there is something for you at the Santa Monica Public Library’s first ever How-To Festival. On Saturday, May 30, between the hours of 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Main Library and noon – 3 p.m. at the branches, the Santa Monica Public Library locations will offer more than 50 free mini-workshops, which promise interactive learning experiences for all ages. In addition to bringing the community together, the festival serves as a fun reminder of the library’s commitment to supporting exploration of individual interests and pursuit of personal goals.

This is your chance to finally make time to learn about something important to you. Learn how to put together a cost-effective wardrobe reflecting your personal style, improve your fantasy football strategy, garden in drought-prone So-Cal, or build your vocabulary (SAT’s anyone?). The possibilities are endless – you could even learn to be a Ninja in a child-friendly self-defense course.

Workshop topics range from the very practical to the spiritual. You could learn to change a flat tire, or nourish your soul by participating in a meditation workshop. Discover the elements of psycho-spiritual self-care, or engage in a good old-fashioned session of laughter just for the health of it. Then tend to your more basic needs by learning how to save money with extreme couponing or by making homemade hygiene and beauty products. Learn practical ways to declutter for life-changing results. Maybe digest some tips on simple-but-delicious food preparation at a cooking demonstration.

For those looking to sharpen professional skills, there will be plenty of opportunities as well. Actors, come practice techniques for breaking down scenes to improve your auditioning skills; writers, come engage with a new genre or add fresh proficiencies to your repertoire; job-seekers, gain confidence by attending a workshop on public speaking or sure-to-impress interview strategies, or boost your resume by learning to code in HTML. Check out the workshop on how to self-publish and, more importantly, learn how to do it for free.

Creative, crafty workshops also abound. There are workshops on music-making, on various styles of dance, and on the art of photo-editing. Practice captivating audiences in any setting with your storytelling skills, or learn to transform paper into a book, or a book back into a tree. Or grow stylized flowers out of common crafting materials, design earrings out of paper, make a pi√±ata – you’re bound to find a reason to exert your imagination.

Or use the opportunity to rev up for a different form of exertion: try a martial art, get running tips from an expert ultramarathoner, or practice exercises that prevent pain or promote flexibility and coordination. Get skilled guidance for perfecting that tennis backhand, or advice from Farmer’s Market staff about sustaining high energy levels with colorful food choices.

Have you been wondering how technology can enrich your daily life? Find out how to use technology to meet people who share your interests, to keep up with news/trends and exchange ideas, or to promote your children’s early learning. Explore a variety of uses for free, open-source software, or learn to navigate free resources to teach yourself a new language. You may just find the motivation you need to finally conquer your technophobia.

Whatever it is you have been hoping to try, come and get started. Develop your taste for coffee, tea, or Vietnamese food and maybe pick up some impressive conversation starters while you’re at it (have an opinion about the ‘third wave of coffee’?). Enhance your deductive reasoning skills while taking on the role of a detective, or learn neat science experiments to take home to your backyard for further pondering.

It’s an occasion worth taking advantage of, not to mention a great excuse to connect with your neighbors. Most people love learning, but don’t have the time. The How-To Festival makes learning enjoyable and convenient. And the learning need not stop with the workshops — if you discover a budding interest, you’ll find that the library is well-equipped to point you to your next step. You can always check out the books, videos, audiobooks and other resources.

The library is proclaiming its dedication to lifelong learning through embracing an interactive form. This is just one way that the library is taking its services to a new level. Do you have other ideas about how the library can have further impact on important areas of our lives? We’d love to hear about them!

As part of its Strategic Planning initiative, the Library will devote the month of May to a community survey drive. The survey’s objectives are to learn what community members value about current library services and to discover what new directions they may have in mind for the Library. It is primarily an online survey and is available in English at Library Survey and en espa√±ol at Encuesta Communitaria. In addition to making the survey available at all library locations, Library staff will go out into the community to canvass members of the public for their views. If you come across one of the survey volunteers, please take a few moments to express your opinions.

Happy learning!

Kelly Wortham is a library assistant in the Main Library’s Circulation Department and is part of the How-To Festival Planning Committee.

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