Unwrap library’s online resources

Holiday shopping? The library can help you with that.

When it comes to shopping for Christmas presents, I’m a procrastinator. Being able to browse and shop completely online, and get one- or two-day shipping for less than the cost of a latte, enables my procrastination to a ridiculous level.

Plus, the fact that I can read almost endless reviews about any product out there makes shopping for gifts a more informed experience as well as a more difficult one. Is saving $5 on that coffeemaker worth the fact that it’s rated a half-star lower than the slightly more expensive one with seemingly the same features?

It’s a small dilemma, I know, but it’s one of those decisions that when multiplied over all of your holiday gift-giving decisions, adds up. You want to get high-quality gifts, but you also want to save money when possible.

Here’s where the Bartholomew County Public Library can help. Yes, you heard that right — the library.

If you visit our website, mybcpl.org, you will see a link along the top, “Resources.” If you click on that, you’ll see an icon on the lower right side of the page for Consumer Reports. Consumer Reports gives you scores on a variety of products such as appliances, electronics, home and garden items, and much more.

Its scoring system is based upon its testing of the items. Since they do not sell any of the items listed, you have the reassurance that the scores that appear there are more unbiased than those you would see on a retailer’s site. In addition to giving the item a numerical score, the items are organized and clearly color-coded by best to worst score, with a description of each item, the “highs” (thumbs up) and “lows” (thumbs down) for each item, and the price range.

You can easily add any items to a comparison chart, so that the features of each item are laid out side by side in an easy-to-compare format.

For those of you who don’t have a specific gift in mind, and are in search of ideas, Consumer Reports can help you with that, too. The publication offer a 2016 Holiday Gift Guide, which gives a different gift idea for each day until Christmas. This makes Consumer Reports great, not only for the savvy shopper who already has a gift in mind, but also for the people who detest shopping and desperately need gift ideas.

Consumer Reports is completely free for anyone with a local library card, and can be accessed anywhere you have a device with an internet connection. You don’t even have to make the trek to the library in order to browse this resource; you can snuggle up in your fuzzy pajamas and favorite slippers while sipping hot cocoa, and procrastinate in gift-giving to your heart’s content, knowing that when you do get those gifts, your decisions will be well-informed.

Angela Eck is the assistant director at the Bartholomew County Public Library and can be reached at aeck@barth.lib.in.us.