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12 Awesome Things at the Library I Wish I Knew About Earlier

12 Awesome Things at the Library I Wish I Knew About Earlier

If you’re like me it’s probably been a long time since you’ve been in a library. That’s fine. Most of us have an antiquated view of what libraries do and are for. As it turns out, libraries can actually be pretty awesome and can save you money. Here are some ways you can save money from the library.

1. You can stream stuff for free

Many of us have Netflix accounts but there are other ways to stream. Using your library card, you can check out a service called Hoopla. Using Hoopla, you can stream movies and TV shows without spending a dime. It’s not as stable as Netflix or Hulu but if you can stand the bugs you can watch some pretty good stuff for free. There are also Android and iOS apps available!

2. You can get free audio books

save money from library

    Libraries have a lot of books but they also have a lot of ebooks. They may handle it differently depending on your library but the premise is pretty much the same. You get a download link, download the file, listen to it, and then in a couple of weeks the file will self destruct. Listening to ebooks is relaxing and provides great background noise when you’re doing other stuff like cleaning the house, cooking, or driving.

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    3. Borrow the latest movies on DVD or BluRay

    Everyone knows that libraries have movies right along with books that you can borrow for free. However, did you know that most public libraries will get the latest titles in the day they come out? Unfortunately, savvy library users will reserve their copy to rent weeks (sometimes months) in advance. You can always wait in line with the reservation holders if you prefer or you can check in with your library and find out how to hold your own copy so you can get in before everyone else. They also have countless older movies which can still make for a fun, quiet evening at home that doesn’t cost you a penny.

    4. Get free trips to the museum

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      Many public libraries are becoming part of the Museum Pass Program which means they have free museum passes to give out every month. Not every library does this and the ones that do participate do not have a lot of passes. That means they’re first come, first serve. If you want to try this out all you need to do is inquire with your library and then get a pass!

      5. Access family tree archives for free

      There are a lot of genealogy websites out there and they can cost a pretty penny to join. Some libraries are already members of these websites and will let you browse on their dime for free. A lot of people don’t need a service like this except for school projects but a penny saved is a penny earned, is it not? Plus it can be fun to see where your family came from and what they used to do.

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      6. Read magazines for free

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        We know a lot of people don’t really subscribe to magazines anymore but those that do pay for magazines don’t really need to. Libraries keep a stock of the latest magazines from the biggest publications on hand and you can go in and check them out anytime you want. Most magazine subscriptions are negligible but buying individual issues can cost upwards of $10 and even some subscriptions are pretty expensive.

        7. Free conference rooms

        Most libraries have conference rooms that you can book for an hour or two totally free of charge. They come with large tables and chairs and you can sometimes borrow things like projectors for presentations. You can use this for practically anything such as book clubs, Dungeons and Dragons campaigns (I’ve personally done this), work related stuff, or practically anything else. They’re there for your use.

        8. Yes, sometimes even tools!

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        save money from library

          This is something that is apparently catching on although I haven’t personally seen it in my area yet. Apparently more and more libraries have a section of power tools that members can borrow for a week or two. This is amazing if you don’t own a lot of tools and want to do some DIY home improvements or even something as simple as hanging a shelf. This isn’t everywhere though so call and check first!

          9. Music instruments

          A lot of libraries have a selection of musical instruments in stock for those who may want to learn. This is actually something they do for school students who can’t afford their own instruments and may have to borrow them. If you’re interested in learning an instrument or want to practice one you’ve been using, the library lets you do it for free. Musical instruments are insanely expensive so this is the only way some people get to hone their skills.

          10. They have computer labs with free internet

          save money from library

            Not everyone needs internet 24/7 and there are plenty of people who don’t have internet at all. If you need to hop online to check your email, apply for jobs, or check out social media then you’re in luck! Public libraries generally have computer labs with internet access that you can use for free. At my local library, they have a 30-60 minute time frame so if it’s a busy day you may not get all the time you need. On less busy days you can sit there almost all day if you have to. They’ll also let you print off things for a small fee. If you don’t print off enough to warrant buying a printer then this can also save you money.

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            11. It’s a free place to go to be alone

            The popular and hip thing to do is to go hang out in coffee shops. The only problem is that you generally have to buy something to stick around in a coffee shop. In a library you can walk in, buy nothing, and hang out in there all day if you need to. It’s pretty quiet, you can listen to your own music, and in some public libraries the couches and chairs are very comfortable. People looking for a quiet, chill place to work on things can find few better options than the library. Your “coolness” may take a hit, but coolness is overrated anyway.

            12. You can rent free books

            save money from library

              Lest we forget why the library is there in the first place. For books! Books are still pretty expensive these days and reading is still a thing that people do (and should do more of). As always, you can get a heaping pile of books from the library and keep them for a while. Books can usually be checked out longer than other items unless there’s a waiting list.

              Libraries are pretty awesome. Most public libraries have worked really hard to remain current when it comes to the needs of people. 20 years ago all they needed to have were books and they could have fallen into obscurity but they didn’t. If you haven’t done so in a while, just go visit your library to see what kind of stuff they can do now!

              Featured photo credit: FanPop via images.fanpop.com

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              Joseph Hindy

              A writer, editor, and YouTuber who likes to share about technology and lifestyle tips.

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              Last Updated on July 4, 2019

              25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education

              25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education

              Whether you’re five or ninety five, the internet has a lot to offer. Particularly when the topic is education, the resources on the internet are endless.

              Best of all, many high quality sites are completely free. From history to coding, excellent free online education awaits on the following 25 sites.

              1. Coursera

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                Coursera is a website that partners with universities and organizations around the world. This brings a wide variety of topics and perspectives to one searchable database.

                Coursera is a powerful tool for free online education, and includes courses from many top universities, museums and trusts. This gives the site an extremely wide range of in-depth courses.

                Coursera is extremely useful if you’re looking to study many different topics, or want courses from different schools and groups.

                2. Khan Academy

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                  Partnering with many post secondary schools, Khan Academy offers a useable, well organized interface. Also curating many courses from around the web, Khan Academy offers impressive depth on many different subjects.

                  Among the more well known educational sites, Khan Academy is also incredibly useable, which may make it easier to keep learning goals.

                  3. Open Culture Online Courses

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                    If you are struggling to find exactly the material you are looking for, try Open Culture’s listing of free online education courses. The page highlights 1000 lectures, videos and podcasts from universities around the world. The site features a lot of material found only on universities private sites, all in easy to browse categories. This means you can find hundreds of university courses, without having to visit and search each university’s own site.

                    Open Culture’s list features courses from England, Australia, Wales and many state universities around the United States. A very helpful resource for finding many courses in one area of study.

                    4. Udemy 

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                      Udemy’s free courses are similar in concept to Coursera’s but additionally allows users to build custom courses from lessons.

                      Working with many top professors and schools, the site mixes the customizable platform of other sites with a heavy emphasis on top quality content. This is another site however, that mixes free and paid content.

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                      5. Academic Earth

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                        Another site with courses from many different schools is Academic Earth. Much like the three sites above, Academic Earth brings together top notch courses from many different sources, and focuses on offering a wide variety of subjects.

                        Academic Earth lists courses by subject and school, so it might be easier to find what you’re looking for.

                        6. edX

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                          Another great option for free online education is edX. Also bringing together courses from many different schools, the site has impressive, quality information for everyone. edX covers a great range of topics.

                          7. Alison

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                            Unlike the previous sites on this lists, Alison is a free education site offering certification in some areas. Alison offers courses mainly in business, technology, and health, but also includes language learning courses.

                            It’s a great option if users need certification for their learning as Alison also offers school curriculum courses.

                            8. iTunesU Free Courses

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                              A very convenient place for free online education is iTunesU, because it integrates seamlessly with your iPod, or any app-ready Apple mobile device. On iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, users download the iTunesU app.

                              Desktop users can access  iTunesU on the upper right hand corner of the iTunes Store. iTunesU is also convenient because the store is categorized much like iTunes.

                              Users can search learning materials in many different ways, including genre and topic. However, courses are often a mix of free podcasts or videos, and paid content.

                              ITunesU does include courses on a pretty wide scope of topics, but does not integrate with Android, Google or Windows mobile devices.

                              9. Stanford Online

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                                Your hub for all the online offerings from Stanford University, Stanford Online offers self-paced and session based courses. While Coursera features some courses from Stanford, many classes are only available via other hosts. Some courses require iTunes, but most are completed in your web browser.

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                                Stanford Online is a great site for high quality courses, though the topics are somewhat limited compared to sites partnered with more than one school.

                                10. Harvard Extension

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                                  Like Stanford Online, Harvard Extension features free online education courses from Harvard only. This is another excellent source for top notch course material, though the course variety is less rich than multi-school sites.

                                  Additionally, Harvard Extension allows you to search for courses by professional certificate. This makes it much easier if your online education goal includes certification.

                                  11. Open Yale Courses

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                                    Open Yale Courses echoes Harvard Extension and Stanford Online, in that it offers only courses from Yale. While the site is similarly limited to topics taught at the school, Open Yale Courses offers a lot of videos of actual campus lectures. The availability of videos makes the site a great option if you’re looking for quality courses, but learn better by watching than by reading.

                                    12. UC Berkeley Class Central

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                                      Much like the other schools on this list, UC Berkeley has a variety of free online education options. The school has slightly fewer courses than the schools above, but includes some supplementary lectures, webcasts and RSS Feeds, making it easy to keep up with the topics you choose.

                                      13. MIT OpenCourseWare

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                                        Similarly, MIT offers a variety of free courses. The school has a comparable number of courses to the schools above, plus includes very in-depth course materials on the subjects available. MIT also offers free RSS feeds, a convenient way to continue learning.

                                        14. Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

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                                          Carnegie Mellon’s free online education site is comparable with the other school’s on this list, however, Open Learning Initiative also covers a smaller range of topics. But for the topics that are covered impressive, in-depth material is available.

                                          15. Codecademy

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                                            Codecademy is a website dedicated specifically to teaching coding. Where other coding sites follow an example/practice session workflow, Codecademy includes a live practice window. This means you can practice coding while still viewing the lesson material.

                                            The courses at Codecademy are well written and easy to follow and the website is organized very nicely. Codecademy features a centralized dashboard where you can monitor your progress, plus organizes lessons into complete modules. This lets you learn an entire language without needing to pick the next course manually.

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                                            16. Code

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                                              Code is another website focused on coding and app writing. A site with high quality courses, Code also features learning options for kids.

                                              In addition to kid friendly courses, Code offers free online education classes on a wide variety of technology topics. These classes include app writing, robotics and Javascript.

                                              Most of the courses are also geared in a such a way that they can be useful in a classroom setting. This makes Code a great resource for harder to find coding topics, as well as various learning settings.

                                              17. University of London Podcasts

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                                                The podcast page on the University of London website is another great source for free education. While the courses are limited to podcasts, the site features podcasts from it’s own campus, as well as eleven universities in and around London. This gives learners a wide base of topics and lectures, but still ensures in-depth material.

                                                18. University of Oxford Podcasts

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                                                  Similar to the University of London, the University of Oxford features many different podcasts. Most are public lecture series or lectures from visiting professors, with several different recordings available.

                                                  The advantage to this particular site is that podcasts are organized into series, making it easy to subscribe to multiple lectures on one topic. Another good site for thoroughly in-depth lectures.

                                                  19. BBC Podcasts

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                                                    For the more casual learner, the BBC offers a wide variety of podcasts on many different topics. Most podcasts are updated weekly, and focus on everything from finance, to sports, to current events.

                                                    Through the World Service line of podcasts, there are also many in different languages. The focus of these podcasts are less in-depth and theory based, which may be more accessible to the average person.

                                                    20. TED-Ed

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                                                      Another great destination for more general learning is TED-Ed. From the same people that brought you the all encompassing, motivational web series, comes a site chocked full of educational videos. Most include impressive animation, and all are ten minutes long or less.

                                                      Not only is TED-Ed an excellent site for the curious, it also includes supplemental materials and quizzes on the videos. This makes the site extremely useful in formal education settings, as well as in entertaining ways to brush up on new discoveries and topics.

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                                                      21. LessonPaths

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                                                        LessonPaths is another great tool for those looking for a more usable and convenient way to access learning material. On this site, users create link playlists of their favorite learning materials from other sites. Users then rank these collections, making it easy to find many different high quality, accessible sources on a given topic.

                                                        22. Memrise

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                                                          Another impressive free online education site offering ease of use and convenience is Memrise. Available both on desktop and as an app, Memrise is a particularly powerful tool if you are studying a language. The site encompasses many other topics as well, though some of the course material is user generated content.

                                                          Part of what makes Memrise special is their integration of games into the learning materials, mixing learning with entertainment.

                                                          23. National Geographic Kids

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                                                            The kids site for National Geographic is another site that makes free online education applicable for younger users. For those looking for kid friendly education, a large variety of games, puzzles, videos and photos keeps kids interested on this site.

                                                            National Geographic Kids doesn’t organize learning into courses, making materials available by topic and medium instead. This makes National Geographic Kids a good option for those looking for a more casual learning environment.

                                                            24. Fun Brain

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                                                              Fun Brain is another good option for kids who want to learn online, but focuses on games and fun puzzles. Particularly focused on math and reading, Fun Brain’s game based approach can be valuable if the child in question struggles to pay attention.

                                                              Fun Brain offers rewards and challenges as well, and is another site aimed at a casual learning experience for kids K-8.

                                                              25. Whyville

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                                                                Similar to the sites for kids free online education is Whyville a destination for preteen online learning. The site includes a variety of social features, with a focus on learning materials geared for young teens.

                                                                Whyville also mixes in educational games, to make the site a well rounded option for kids too old for simple games, but too young for heavy reading based material.

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                                                                Featured photo credit: Dai KE via unsplash.com

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