In this day and age with the power to purchase at your fingertips or the joy of browsing in physical stores with a latte in hand, it’s easy to want to buy… well, everything. And it’s easy to forget that many of these things are available for free in your own back yard. I would like to highlight the resources available at your public library and how those resources can replace things that you are probably spending a lot of money on.
eBooks— First of all, if you have a smart phone, a pad, AND a Kindle or Nook, you have too many electronics that do the same thing. There are apps available for your smartphone or pad that basically replace your eReader. In any case, if you have jumped on the eBook bandwagon, you definitely want to check out if your library has an eBook app. You can check out eBooks for FREE from your local library. It works the same way as a library book. You check it out, and eventually it gets turned back in. Except you can browse books from home and it is automatically returned for you (no overdue fines!).
Regular ol’ paper books–Not only can you get bestsellers, references books, self-help books, paperbacks, hardbacks, classics, etc., to physically checkout in person just like you always did from the library, but often times libraries also have a spot where they have mass market paperback exchanges that you can come in and “exchange” time and time again without checking out. For books that you can check out the old fashioned way, these days you can renew online, or by phone. Your library may even have an app specifically for your library, making keeping track of your books a breeze. However, if you don’t want to keep track of your books, check to see if they have a paperback exchange. These books are taken on the honor system and don’t have to follow any protocol or incur fines.
Movies–Your library probably has an extensive dvd collection, both classic movies and new releases. Instead of paying money at Redbox, your local movie store, Netflix, etc., see if your library has it first.
Libraries also have CDs, magazines, books on CD, and new media you probably have not come across before. They also often services like scanning and printing, and free internet. Many also have conference rooms, small classrooms, meeting rooms, and private study rooms available for free. You should also check out programming and events for free and low cost entertainment and educational opportunities.
Libraries these days are trying to compete with your nearest big box book store and mall (remember shopping with a latte in hand) so the old days of no talking and no food and drink are gone. Many libraries have very liberal attitudes regarding these former taboos because they want to create a welcoming attitude.
And Here’s the great thing about your library: If they don’t have it, they can get it from their partner libraries. Or, they can order it for their own content. Libraries want to make their patrons happy. They can even order ebooks specifically upon your request. So if you get frustrated by the selection at your public library, it may be because patrons, like you, aren’t telling the library what they want to see.
If you have not been to your public library lately, you really need to check it out. After all, your library is probably almost entirely funded by your tax dollars. So…perhaps not entirely free, but it’s a resource you are already paying for, so take advantage of it.
I rediscovered the library last year when I decided to take my kids for a summer event they were hosting. The library is nothing like I remember it being. All summer and through out the year they have kid friendly, air conditioned events. My kids love going. Our library offers culture passes as well. These are FREE tickets (2 per family) to get into museums, the zoo, botanical gardens, and other venues. They are available on a first come first serve basis, but there are plenty to choose from so even if you don’t get your first choice you will get something just as exciting. AND… Just as exciting, many libraries offer FREE classes online. Things from practice exams and language courses are all available as long as you have a library card. They have so many undiscovered awesome services. B-)