Use your Library to Live Light and Save

By Debra L. Karplus

Libraries have changed greatly over the past few decades. No longer are they sterile places that only have books to borrow and where one must be silent. When was the last time you heard a librarian say ‘shhhhh’ to a patron? Many of today’s libraries have become gathering places for families and friends to enjoy a cup of cappuccino with a freshly baked fruit filled muffin, attend an interesting lecture, or check out a wide variety of media. Typically your home real estate taxes support your local library; so why not spend more time at the library and get your money’s worth. You will be surprised at the dollars that you can save.

Borrow instead of buy; it always stretches your dollar.

How many books do you purchase that you only read once, or maybe you do not read then at all? The library is a great way to explore a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction topics. Many libraries will even special order a book that you request, or obtain it through the library system that they are part of with neighboring libraries. And, if you find a book to be especially useful, you can ultimately buy it online at a discount.

Going to a movie at your local theater can be expensive, especially if you bring the entire family or go in the evening. Even video rentals are not free. But many public libraries have free videos and DVDs, in excellent condition, that you can borrow of popular movies, educational films ‘how-to’ ideas like home improvements or cooking, and more. Next time you are at the library peruse the media section. You may be pleasantly surprised to see how extensive the collection is. The same holds true of the CDs, with anything from popular music, Broadway musicals, classical music and other genres.

How much do you spend each year on magazine subscriptions? Generally, you read a magazine once, especially if it’s a timely news magazine; and eventually you need to take it to the recycling center. It’s likely that your library subscribes to the magazines that you are receiving at home. Cancel those home subscriptions, and spend a relaxing Sunday afternoon in a comfortable library chair reading your favorite magazines in the periodicals section. Magazines for teens and younger children are also at your library.

Utilize the free computer and databases at the library.

Most libraries have a section or room filled with computers for the public to use. Many libraries are even wired for free wifi. Bring your portable computer and you are ready to work or study. What a great place for your children to do their homework! Additionally, libraries often subscribe to databases that you don’t have at home. For example, if genealogy is your passion, the library may have online newspapers from other towns, birth notices, specific immigration websites and other electronic sources to find helpful information.

Entertain your children in the library’s kid section.

The weather outside is terrible and the kids are becoming restless staying at home. Why not head to the library. Children’s departments have become lively places for children to play and interact. Besides books for all aged children including even the very little ones, you are likely to find toys, puzzles and games, also. And check the library’s calendar of events. Many libraries have daytime or bedtime story hours and a variety of other age-appropriate activities.

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Attend free adult and family-oriented library programs.

On a given evening or weekend afternoon, interesting, informative and fun programs are scheduled at the library. A banker or financial planner may be giving a free lecture about retirement savings. A published author could be speaking about her upcoming novel. A well-travelled local teacher might speak about a recent trip to China. Or possibly a chamber group is entertaining library patrons with some selections from Beethoven pieces. Why spend money at symphony hall when you can be enjoying these and many other free library events!

Spend a little money at the library for big savings.

Many libraries frequently discard older books, magazines, CDs, videos and DVDs. They do this by having sales, with bargain-basement prices. Some even sell bag loads of books or other materials. Inquire if your library will be having a sale; or volunteer your time to help organize one.

You are probably already paying indirectly for goods and services of you local library. Plan a library visit with the family when you have a block of time. Give yourselves a tour of all that is to be offered. The library can easily become a regular favorite family spot with savings galore. Check it out.

This article by Debra Karplus first appeared on Debra Karplus, freelance writer and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.


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