With social distancing and self-quarantine the new normal, some of us are finding we have a lot more time on our hands.
Time we all used to wish we had to read that book that’s been on the list for years, take that class just for the fun of it, or watch that documentary everyone has been talking about.
And with all this time we have to spend indoors, I’ve caught people, myself included, complaining about being bored. So, I’ve compiled a list of all the online resources you can access right now to learn, get inspired and be entertained. And best of all, they’re all free to access!
Note: as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. While all of the services below are free to access, keep in mind that some are ad-supported and many are probably harvesting your data. Also, there are a few services mentioned below that offered through the library but make sure to visit your local library’s website for a comprehensive list of all their free offerings.
Nothing kills time like a good movie, TV show or documentary. And while Netflix, Amazon Prime, Crave, Disney+ and Apple TV have some great content, subscription costs add up. Lucky for you, the below streaming platforms are all free and open to Canadians.
Books & Magazines
While I love reading a physical book, I have to admit that this predilection can get expensive. With libraries closed, there are ways you can read your favourite books and magazines without spending a dime.
Libby and RB Digital are two great services available from your local library. Just add your library card info and you can access all the audio and e-books your library has to offer, from Libby, and over 200 magazines, from RB Digital.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for, or miraculously get through the entire library catalogue, there are multiple alternative resources where you can read, download or listen to your favourite stories:
- Internet Archive
- Audible – has made hundreds of titles available for free, you can also get one month for free
- Project Gutenberg
If you’re dreaming about visiting the Uffizi Gallery in Florence or The Met in New York City, you don’t have to wait for your next vacation. You can experience the best of art and culture right from your home with virtual museum tours, galleries and performances.
- Take a tour of the best museums and art galleries from around the world, over 500 of them, with Google Arts & Culture. They have also worked with over 1200 institutions to catalogue some of the most important works of art.
- You can also virtually visit the Vatican museums, Louvre and NASA’s Glenn Research Center and Langley Research Center.
- The New York Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera and Teatro Massimo are sharing a free opera a day from their archives. The Berlin Philharmonic is offering free concerts from its archives. The Canadian Opera Company is sharing clips from their past shows at 11 a.m. everyday on their social media platforms.
- This article from Openculture.com lists a plethora of exhibits, galleries, art images and books available for online viewing and free download.
If you were ever interested in taking a class or a course for professional development or your own personal curiosity, now is the perfect time to do it! Some of the below are entirely free while others offer some free classes or free access for a limited time.
- Class Central
- Stanford Online
- Open learn
- SkillShare – you can get 2 months free access
Music & Audio
Nothing beats a slump like a great playlist or podcast. And while every single public event has been cancelled for the foreseeable future, music streaming services will have to fill that Post Malone-shaped hole in your heart.