Planning a Trip with WBRL’s Free Resources

Hi lovely blog readers- Shauna here again (maybe you read my Freaky Tales from Fort McMurray post?). I’m heading to Tokyo in about a week, and I’ve been preparing for this trip intensely since… well, since I returned from my last fabulous trip to Japan in 2017, pretty much! I’ve utilized a lot of library resources while planning and preparing for my trip, so I will share them with you in the hopes that you can use them to plan your next trip, too!

Remember that all of these resources are FREE to use with your library card, and a library card is also FREE for residents of Wood Buffalo!

On my last trip to Japan, I was accompanied by none other than our cheerful library mascot, Wylie Wordsworth the bookworm!

Wylie found some feathery friends in Ikebukuro who share his love of reading!

Language Learning

It’s been a couple of years since I went to Japan, so I definitely needed to brush up on my Japanese. Thankfully, WBRL has an awesome online language learning resource called Pronunciator that has been a great help for me!

Pronunciator allows you to make an account and tailor your language learning program to your needs and interests, as well as teaching you using your first language as a base. It has tons of practice drills and quizzes for many languages, and I’ve consulted their Phasebook for Japanese quite a bit!

I recently discovered that Pronunciator has American Sign Language lessons, too, with video clips showing all of the signing in action!


I’ve been making great use of our travel guides and language-learning books here at the library, as well as books and movies about Japanese culture, cooking, and so on. Last time when I went to Japan with my husband and Wylie we travelled to a bunch of different prefectures and stayed in seven different places during our trip, but this time we are staying in the Tokyo area for the entire duration, so we have a different sort of trip to plan.

Wylie enjoyed staying in traditional Ryokan and sleeping on futon!

We learned from our last trip that a lot of excellent restaurants and attractions in Tokyo are hidden away in basements or on inconspicuous levels of high-rise buildings, so this time we decided to plan out our days more thoughtfully. WBRL has lots of excellent and current travel guides and other sorts of books to help with trip planning.


Whenever I am travelling somewhere new, I seek out books and media from that place to explore.  Our library has books from authors all across the globe, including many excellent Japanese authors such as Haruki Murakami, Banana Yamamoto, Kanae Minato, and Yoko Ogawa.

Wylie says: “Reading is a great way to learn about the world no matter where you are!”

Since I am going to Japan, I also made sure to reread some of my favourite manga (Japanese comics) titles and explore some new ones!

Did you know that Marie Kondo has a manga comic book explaining her KonMari method!?

Electronic Titles

We also have two online resources for downloading ebooks and audiobooks to your devices: Hoopla and Overdrive (Overdrive’s app is called Libby). Both of these have a different selection of titles for all ages to choose from, and Hoopla also offers a selection of music, TV shows, and movies… so much content without taking up any precious room in your suitcase! You can even download titles to your devices so you can access them later without having to worry about finding a wifi connection or using your data.

If you’re travelling with young kids, you might want to consider Tumblebooks: these engaging, animated talking books and videos help keep kids entertained through long periods of travel.

If magazines are more your thing, your library card also gives you access to RBDigital. The app has all kinds of popular magazine titles available to borrow, including travel magazines, as well as even more audiobooks.

Wylie says: “Get the apps to listen, watch, and read on your devices, even on a busy train! Don’t forget your headphones!”

Interlibrary Loans

There were a few Japanese books I wanted to read that WBRL didn’t have, but thanks to Alberta’s excellent Interlibrary Loan system, I was able to get my hands on them through WBRL at no charge in just a few weeks.

Informed Decision Making

WBRL also provides free access to ConsumerReports for library patrons; while a product review site might not be your first thought when planning a trip, consider the amount of money you’ll be spending on things like luggage, tickets, and travel insurance. ConsumerReports is an independent non-profit that offers more than just item ratings and reviews: videos, news articles, tips and tricks, and more are available for your perusal.

Choose Your Adventure

No matter where your travels take you, we want to help you be prepared- the next time you’re planning a big trip, be sure to visit the library first! Happy trails!

Shauna Darbyshire
Reference Associate

The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *