The Library of Congress

When I say “library” most of you are going to picture books. Getting books from the library is the most inexpensive way to read books. But there are unexpected ways that libraries can save you money:

Preview Music

I love buying music. Unforatunately I have often bought CDs only to find out that I didn’t like the album, or only liked one song.  This means the music languishes in the library, unplayed. Even previewing snippets online doesn’t entirely get rid of this problem, since so many songs change after the first thirty seconds.

At the library I can borrow CDs and give them a full listen before deciding to buy them. This saves me from spending money on things I will listen to once.

This also allows me to try genres outside of my usual listening fare. I have listened to world music, opera, old-time blues and something that I could only classify as Scandinavian Tolkein death metal.

Read Magazines

I like magazines. They are great information sources and provide lots of light reading. My reading tastes vary and I love everything from archaeology to cooking to crafting to software development to political commentary. While I like magazines, I have neither the time to read everything, nor the interest to read every issue.

There are two general ways to get magazines: buy them at the newsstand or subscribe. Buying at the newsstand allows you to pick the issues you want to read, but costs many times more than a subscription. Subscriptions are less expensive, but if you don’t get to reading the magazines, it is wasted money. They also pile up around the house, waiting for a time when you “can get to them”. In my case, this can mean six months of back issues, depending on how busy I am.

Most libraries still carry a wide variety of magazines and even have back issues. You can read as much as you wish, when you want to,  for free. This method has the added bonus of not having to dispose of the magazines once they are read. They are shared with others who wish to read them.

Note: If your local library doesn’t carry a favorite, ask them to. They subscribe based on popularity.

Activities and Lectures

Most public libraries have large meeting rooms where they hold activities and lectures. These are usually free or low-cost, and cover a wide variety of interests. My local library had presentations on henna, fishing and quilting one week this month.

Some community groups will also meet at libraries, and provide public outreach informational programs in exchange for the meeting space. Our local astronomy club gave a demonstration of telescopes at the library one Saturday afternoon, allowing children to examine telescopes, and then see a presentation on constellations inside.

Movies

There are many ways to see movies at a price lower than the movie theater. I used to love renting movies, but I could never manage to get them back the next day. Getting movies from the library gets around this, and movies from the library are generally free. They might not have hundreds of copies of the recent release, but if you are willing to wait a week, you can get them. Plus, with multi–week check out, you don’t have to worry about getting them back the next day!

A Bonus Tip To Making The Library Work Harder For You

Almost all libraries these days have their catalog and reservation system online. This means that you can place a hold on an item anytime, from any computer and the item will be pulled and waiting for you to pick up. How great is it to browse the library catalogs at midnight? Items can be reserved even before they arrive at the library, making it possible to get new books and movies the moment they are released.

Libraries often have inter-library loan programs as well, so if your local library doesn’t have an item, they can probably arrange to have it borrowed from another library.

Even though I read mostly e-books these days I am spending more time at my library. I read magazines, investigate new music and pick out movies. Do you have anything you use your library for that saves you money? Share below.

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